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Become a Business-Savvy Doctor With a Joint M.D.-MBA Program

Students should weigh the cost and time commitment these programs can require, experts say.

Doctors with an MBA may be better equipped to manage the business arm of health care, experts say.
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Many dual-degree students, though, may not have the opportunity to do more than classroom work to learn about business, experts say. "Some programs do not have an opportunity for a full internship," Chandler says.

"In our program, in the fourth and fifth years, there's a little bit of flexibility there," says James Ebert, who launched the dual-degree program at Wright State University. Wright State M.D.-MBA students have honed their business skills at the State Department of Health or abroad, examining the health care systems of other countries, he says.

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Students can maximize classroom work to get a better feel for real-world business situations that apply to health care. "Most of our students choose health care projects," says Chandler. Students can also look into clubs that may serve their interests. UC—Irvine, for example, recently started a chapter of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs.

Often students won't have the chance to really flex their business skills for years. Residency, required training for M.D. graduates to practice medicine, can take three years or more. Almost all M.D.-MBA students do residency immediately after completing school. Then, they can reap the benefits of business school.

"They will have a leg up on other physicians when it comes time for those early and mid-career moves," says Ebert.

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