The MBA in Medical Education: Current MD/MBA Student Aspirations, Perceptions, and Motivations

J Surg Res. 2020 Oct 27;S0022-4804(20)30698-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2020.09.032. Online ahead of print.


Background: As combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Business Administration (MD/MBA) programs gain popularity, it is critical to understand the motives, perceptions, and interests of MD/MBA students. The purpose of this study was to investigate career aspirations of MD/MBA students, skills they perceive to gain from the dual degree, and reasons why students enroll in MD/MBA programs.

Materials and methods: All 73 MD/MBA programs in the United States were invited to participate in a twelve-question, online survey. Responses were collected between August 2019 and February 2020 from students enrolled during the 2019-2020 academic year. The questions were designed to examine career aspirations, program perceptions, and personal motivations. Data were aggregated into descriptive summary statistics and rank orders.

Results: A total of 18 MD/MBA programs agreed to participate in this study, of which 14 met criteria for final analysis. From these programs, 67 of 175 students responded (38%). Among respondents, 100% planned to pursue residency. The most common career interests included the following: clinical practice at an academic hospital (85%), executive leadership in a hospital network (76%), and clinical practice in a community hospital (65%). Students ranked "making a broader impact on health care" and "pursuing leadership in clinical practice" highest among reasons to pursue an MD/MBA. Students reported high rates of acquiring MBA-oriented skills.

Conclusions: MD/MBA students in this study focused on pursuing clinical careers. Students appear satisfied with their education, reporting high rates of skill acquisition. Residency programs interested in MD/MBA students can incorporate leadership and entrepreneurial opportunities to foster students' broad interests.

Keywords: Leadership; MD/MBA; Medical education; Medical student; Student interests.