Shaan Patel’s path to business school was a little different than most. With three years of medical school under his belt, the Las Vegas native traded the University of Southern California (USC) for Yale School of Management (SOM), where he’ll complete his MBA before returning to USC for his final year of med school.
“As a medical student, I wanted to learn more about healthcare management,” he says. Yale SOM has been great, he continues, offering plenty of healthcare electives as well as opportunities to collaborate with the Yale School of Medicine. “One of the problems with medical school is that you become so focused on the pathophysiology of disease and clinical medicine that there’s not much exposure to the business side of medicine, healthcare administration, insurance,” he says. One Yale SOM class in particular—“Healthcare, Economics, Finance and Policy”—helped him learn about things like Medicare, Medicaid and the roles played by pharmaceutical and insurance companies. “Most medical students have to learn those things on the job after they are in practice,” Patel notes.
While med students who take a leave of absence to pick up an MBA along the way are not all that common, business students looking to specialize in healthcare make up a solid slice of the student body at several leading business schools—for a host of reasons. For starters, healthcare is a recession-proof industry offering a range of potential career paths. MBA graduates can go on to work as administrators in hospitals, long-term care facilities and rehabilitation facilities; as senior managers at insurance, biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms; or in increasingly prevalent healthcare-focused roles in investment banking, consulting or venture capital. And with the digital health market expected to reach $233.3 billion by 2020, it should come as no surprise that healthcare entrepreneurship is hot, too.
Climbing healthcare costs have made identifying ways to generate profits while benefitting both providers and patients a constant challenge. Aging populations in both the United States and Europe ensure that strains upon the industry will only increase. And the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the U.S. has shifted the paradigm of how doctors and hospitals are paid and how they deliver care, creating both new complexities and opportunities for innovation.
As you can see, the question isn’t why prospective applicants are seeking out MBA programs that can teach them the business of healthcare. The question is which business schools do it best.