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The Role of MD and MBA Training in the Professional Development of a Physician: A Survey of 30 Years of Graduates From the Wharton Health Care Management Program

Patel, Mitesh S. MD, MBA; Arora, Vishal; Patel, Mamta S. BBA; Kinney, June M. MA; Pauly, Mark V. PhD; Asch, David A. MD, MBA

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000366
Research Reports

Purpose: The number of medical schools offering MD and MBA training has increased fivefold in the last two decades. The authors evaluated graduates’ perceptions of the role of such training on their career and professional development.

Method: In 2011, the authors surveyed physician graduates from the Wharton School MBA Program in Heath Care Management at the University of Pennsylvania from 1981 to 2010. Survey responses were analyzed and evaluated using grounded theory.

Results: Among 247 eligible graduates, 59.9% (148/247) completed the questionnaire and 89.9% (133/148) of them provided free-text responses. Approximately 85.1% (126/148) of respon dents were male and 79.7% (118/148) entered residency training; however, both rates declined slightly over time. Among respondents within their first decade after graduation, 46.2% (24/52) reported clinical practice as their primary work sector compared with 39.5% (15/38) among respondents 11 to 20 years after graduation and 19.2% (5/26) of respondents 21 to 30 years after graduation. Overall, graduates reported mostly positive attitudes and often noted the benefits of career acceleration, professional flexibility, and credibility in multidisciplinary domains. The few negative remarks were focused on the opportunity cost of time and how peers in one discipline may negatively perceive the role of the other discipline’s degree.

Conclusions: Graduates with an MD and MBA report mostly positive attitudes towards their training, and many are pursuing leadership and primarily nonclinical roles later in their careers. These findings reveal new insights for policies affecting physician workforce. Further study is necessary to evaluate whether similar trends exist more broadly.

Dr. Patel is Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ambulatory fellow, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Arora is an undergraduate student, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Patel is a masters of business administration student, Health Care Management Program, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Kinney is associate director, Health Care Management Program, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Pauly is professor of health care management and business economics and public policy, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Asch is a physician, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Philadelphia VA Medical Center; professor of medicine, medical ethics and health policy, and anesthesiology and critical care medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; professor of health care management and operations and information management, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; and executive director, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Funding/Support: Dr. Patel was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: This study was reviewed by the human subjects committee of the University of Pennsylvania and classified as exempt.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Patel, 423 Guardian Dr., 1303B Blockley Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104; telephone: (734) 355-0817; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges