Purpose: Managerial sciences are playing an increasingly prominent role in the organization and delivery of health care. Despite popular media reports that a rising number of physicians are acquiring a background in this discipline through MD/MBA (medical and master of business administration) programs, no recent study has verified this. This study measured changes in the number and nature of the affiliations between management and medicine in the form of MD/MBA programs in the United States.
Method: Surveys of admission officers of 125 U.S. allopathic medical schools and of the overseers of each joint MD/MBA degree program were administered in May-October 2001. Main outcome measures included program growth, curriculum and degree requirements, application and admission requirements, and program leadership and organization.
Results: The number of MD/MBA programs grew from six to 33 between 1993 and 2001, and 17 more medical schools were considering establishing the joint-degree program. Ten, 15, and 20 programs produced 27, 42, and 61 graduates in 1999, 2000, and 2001, respectively, and over 100 students were expected to graduate per year when all 33 programs matured. Program structures and oversight indicate a spectrum of philosophies regarding the appropriate level of integration of the two degrees. MD/MBA programs apparently attempt to complement medical education with management education rather than the converse.
Conclusions: The growth in the numbers of MD/MBA programs and participants indicates rising cooperation between medical and business schools and increasing interest in management education early in the careers of graduating physicians.