Ambitious hospitalists may be eager to add an MBA or a PhD to their credentials, in the belief those magic letters will open doors to leadership positions or higher compensation. But before you fork over tuition for an advanced degree program, consider whether that degree will pay off.
Choose Your Career Path
If you’re considering pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Health Administration (MPH), or even a doctorate degree, the first thing you should consider is which career path within hospital medicine you’re interested in. What position would you ultimately like to hold? And which, if any, advanced degree can help you get there?
“Explore the idea [of earning an advanced degree], but the most important steps are to try to get some work experience and set some goals,” says Mary Jo Gorman, MD, MBA, the CEO of Advanced ICU Care, St. Louis, Mo. “Along the way, find out what you have an aptitude for.” Once you know your general or specific career goals, you can consider whether to earn an advanced degree.
“It’s a significant monetary and time commitment, so make sure it makes sense for where you want to go,” advises Dr. Gorman. “I’d also advise career counseling to help with this. Great people to talk to are recruiters. They’ll tell you what you need in order to apply for certain positions.”
It should be obvious that some positions will require certain degrees beyond an MD or a DO. Look at the next—or final—job you want. Is the job held by someone with an MBA, a PhD, or another degree? Is that person’s successor likely to need specific education?
“If you want to be the chief operating officer of a hospital, or the CEO of a large medical group, you’re not getting that without an MBA,” Dr. Gorman says. “In fact, if you’re planning to apply for a position that requires strong financial expertise, they’re not going to accept you without [an MBA] unless you’re of a certain age and have a great track record that shows you can do the job.”