Many hospitalists might get an advanced degree in management because they covet a specific job, but that might not be the only reason.
Kevan Pickrel, MD, MHM, a regional chief medical officer for Sound Physicians in Southern California, says his decision to get a master’s in healthcare management from the University of Texas at Dallas came down to credibility.
“I got the additional degree for one reason: a seat at the table,” Dr. Pickrel says. “Physicians complain a lot about all the change and the autonomy they have lost but do little about it beyond grumbling at lunch. I believe in hospital medicine as a discipline and believe in the value of the specialty. I wanted to be sure my specialty had a voice, and the only way to set myself apart from ‘just another whining doc’ was to add the letters.”
Making it happen was not a simple task, he says.
“Finding the time wasn’t easy,” he says. “I burned vacation time and leaned on my colleagues a lot. There are any number of physician- or executive-targeted programs offered that make it possible. Possible, but not easy.”
Chris Spoja, DO, a Sound hospitalist in Idaho, says he’d like to prepare himself for a chief medical officer job. He is planning to get his Master of Medical Management (MMM) from the University of Southern California (USC) next year, after he participates in a local leadership program in Idaho, which will allow him to network with people in his area.
“I would like to position myself to at least have that option,” he says, noting that the USC program will allow him to do most of his coursework online, participating in group discussions over Skype or doing work on his own. But he’ll have to visit the campus in Los Angeles for three days once a month.
“It’s not a small commitment,” he says. “But it’s doable.” TH
Tom Collins is a freelance writer in South Florida.