Why Get a Healthcare MBA

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The following article is sponsored by the
F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College.
Check out their MBA programs.

Healthcare is predicted to be one of this year’s hottest industries, as a result of the Affordable Care Act and the aging baby boomer population in the US. Whether you have been working in healthcare for several years or are considering healthcare as your future career path, an MBA can give you the skills and credentials you need to work as a manager at a healthcare organization. 

Using an MBA to Transition into a Healthcare Career: Real Life Stories

Kelly Marie Murphy, a 2012 Babson MBA graduate and the first MBA to serve as an Administrative Fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, didn’t work in healthcare prior to getting her MBA.

Murphy now works with senior level management on a variety of projects at one of the best cancer hospitals in the United States, but her list of previous employers included: an investment management firm, the operations department of a management consulting firm, and a startup.  When Murphy’s aunt died of breast cancer in 2008, she decided to honor her aunt by running the Boston Marathon on behalf of Komen for the Cure. Not only did Murphy raise nearly $20,000, she made the life-changing decision to switch into non-profit management so she could work for a cancer-related organization. Since Murphy didn’t have the education she needed in order make this transition, she decided to get her MBA from Babson.

Michael Jack is a 2010 Babson graduate who also used his MBA to transition into healthcare. Prior to getting his MBA, Jack worked in the hospitality industry for nine years and managed a multi-million dollar restaurant in Miami Beach. Jack, whose father runs an infant cardiovascular clinic, got into healthcare because he was inspired by the similarities between hospitality and hospital care. He viewed the challenges that the healthcare is facing as an opportunity to get involved and make a difference. 

During his MBA program Jack attended healthcare recruiting events, and interned at CIGNA where he worked with uninsured members of the Latino community. He feels that his MBA education helped him see the big picture of healthcare, which he pairs with the people skills he gained while working in the hospitality industry.

Jack now works at as a pricing analyst for CVS Caremark, the number 2 drugstore chain in the US. While Jack does front store pricing on consumables such as candy, groceries and snacks, the profit from these retail items helps subsidize the healthcare part of CVS, including the Minute Clinic, social outreach to communities, and donations. Jack feels that Minute Clinic, the largest provider of retail medical clinics, provides people with access to healthcare at a much lower cost.

In addition, analyzing consumer habits and behaviors allows CVS Caremark to make better decisions about healthcare, including how to better manage healthcare costs and how to create incentives which promote healthier behavior.

Jack states Babson that “has the curriculum that employers are looking for” and CVS Caremark has hired several Babson MBA graduates to work on pricing and big data.

Advance Your Healthcare Management Career

If you are a healthcare employee with a background in science, medicine, engineering or IT, at some point, your job may require you to take on a managerial role. Getting an MBA can help you make the transition into a managerial role by helping you develop management skills that can be used in the healthcare industry.

Some of the common healthcare job roles for Babson MBA graduates include:

•    Healthcare consultant for niche boutique health consulting firms, IT consulting firms that do life sciences work, health insurers and health systems
•    Product management for medical device companies
•    Product marketing for research organizations, biotech firms or medical device companies
•    Data Analytics and Competitive Intelligence across the sector (biotech/pharmaceuticals, medical device companies, health IT)

MBA Skills That Can Help You Enter Healthcare Management Roles

The management skills taught at business school can help you advance your healthcare career. There are also roles within healthcare for every MBA specialty, including accounting, marketing, and finance.

Murphy finds that the soft skills she learned in her MBA program, such as management and negotiation, have helped her in her fellowship at Dana-Farber. Courses about negotiation and organizational management helped her manage herself and work in a complex organization.

Murphy says that the entrepreneurial skill set she developed in her MBA program has also helped her in her current role. Having an entrepreneurial mindset has given her the ability to analyze a situation, as well as the courage and knowledge to ask the right kinds of questions. It has also made her more comfortable with uncertainty.

Specialized life sciences and healthcare MBA courses are also important, since working in the healthcare industry is different than working at a consumer products company. According to Murphy, healthcare has “so many different stakeholders with different priorities and demands. “ These stakeholders aren’t just doctors and patients, but also staff, volunteers, scientists, the government, pharmaceuticals, supply chain companies, and insurance companies.

Murphy feels that the healthcare classes she took during her MBA program have helped her understand all the ways that healthcare is different from other industries. For example, the Healthcare Ecosystem course at Babson helped Murphy identify who all the different healthcare stakeholders are.

According to Babson’s Associate Professor Gaurab Bhardwaj, “Without this knowledge, it will be difficult to have credibility and be effective”.

Jack feels that these specialized healthcare MBA courses, including Healthcare Ecosystem and Healthcare Supply Chain helped him see the big picture of the healthcare industry. In addition to what he learned during his healthcare classes, Jack leverages his presentation and data analytic skills that he strengthened and refined during his MBA experience .

These management skills enable those without a medical background to make a difference within the healthcare industry. As Kelly Marie Murphy states, “Healthcare is becoming such an important sector... you don’t have to be a clinician to have an impactful career.”

Written by Nicole Willson

Nicole is the SEO manager of TopMBA.com, as well as a contributing author. She holds a BA in history and sociology, and a master's in library science. Aside from her work for QS, Nicole is a long-time contributing editor and administrator for WikiHow.

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