"Those were the rough days when I'd be up until midnight, 1 a.m.," she says. During her third year of school she only focused on medical school. In her fourth year she returns to simultaneously pursuing both degrees, though with a lighter business school load.
2. Money: Because most programs are five years, med students will have to add on an extra year of tuition, fees and other expenses to get their MBA.
"It adds substantially to their debt," says Stuart Slavin, an associate dean at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Usually only one or two of a class of 175 medical students at the school simultaneously pursue an MBA, he says.
These students will also start residency later than many of their peers, which means one more year without a salary.
3. Business experience: Rogers Belyea squeezed in a business-related internship, which involved developing a new payment model for physicians in Massachusetts, during the summer before she started medical school.
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.
[Learn how medical school debt affects different applicants.]
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.
Searching for a medical school? Get our complete rankings of Best Medical Schools.