How my MBA is helping me improve the healthcare industry | TopMBA.com

How my MBA is helping me improve the healthcare industry

By Niamh O

Updated May 12, 2021 Updated May 12, 2021

According to Joseph Home, MBA candidate at Alliance Manchester Business School, the NHS is going through a 'major, but quiet overhaul.' Joseph hopes to use his MBA to improve the NHS from the ground up.

An MBA offers graduates a great number of career opportunities, but one industry that has certainly seen increased interest in recent years is the healthcare industry.

Although it may seem a niche industry to work in post-graduation, one MBA student at Alliance Manchester Business School already has industry experience.

Not only an MBA candidate, Joseph Home (pictured) is a junior doctor working in the UK National Health Service (NHS), and he wants to use the MBA to build on business knowledge to benefit the NHS in the future.

Joseph Home Alliance Manchester Business School MBA candidate

The man himself  

Joseph admits his career so far has been somewhat atypical for a clinician.

He said: “This divergence of paths began when I took a year out of my undergraduate medical training to come to Manchester to study a master’s degree in law and ethics. This was really the start of my interest in policy and the effects of centralised decision-making on patient care.”

This is when Joseph became quite involved in the British Medical Association, the professional association and trade union for UK doctors. He said: “Within this role, I represent and negotiate national contracts for all junior doctors in England.

“It’s safe to say this has been both interesting and challenging for my personal development and was certainly part of the reason I began looking at MBA programmes.”

An MBA alongside healthcare 

Coming into the MBA, Joseph says he expected the majority of learning to be focused on people management with some financial learnings too. He said: “I don’t think I fully anticipated the depth we have gone into across all our subject areas prior to starting the course.

“Prior to starting the MBA, I often felt like I was feeling my way through the dark when working on transformative projects in my work, the MBA has given me a good grounding to systematically approach problems and improvement.

“I often wonder whether the changes and projects I worked on in response to COVID-19 would have been significantly more straightforward had I undertaken an MBA prior to the onset of the pandemic.”

Big dreams for the NHS 

Joseph is halfway through the Global MBA programme at Alliance. Coming from a primarily clinical background, Joseph admits he wasn’t sure what he expected from the MBA – but is reaping course benefits and networking opportunities.

He said: “I have particularly benefitted from the exposure to peers from different industries, the NHS is such a big organisation it is often easy to surround yourself with other NHS employees. The time spent working with high-performing individuals from other sectors has certainly challenged my ways of working for the better.”

Joseph wants to work his way up the business management side of the NHS, as although patient care is at the centre of the health service, he thinks there are many more ways to improve patients’ lives. He said: “Arguably the single biggest step to improving the lives of the population in the UK was the creation of the NHS, an intervention led by policy makers, not clinicians.”

Joseph continues to enjoy working clinically and would miss it if he gave it up altogether, but says he found himself frequently frustrated while working full-time as a clinician because of structural and institutional barriers. He said: “I found I would sometimes spend more time reviewing policy and procedures than medical literature, this led me to the diverse portfolio I currently manage.”

Lessons learned during a pandemic 

Joseph says the key learning point from the COVID-19 pandemic was not to categorise individuals by the role they currently inhabit.

He said: “The pandemic saw thousands of NHS employees working in roles they had no prior experience in, whether that was me working in systems redesign or nursing staff redeployed from an outpatient setting to Intensive Care Units, all staff have shown they are willing and able to step out of their comfort zone if they are supported.”

Should any other medical professionals be considering an MBA, Joseph’s main piece of advice is to just go for it, but be aware of what you’re signing up for.

He said: “I would encourage you to engage early in conversations with your employer about how they can support you to undertake the degree. This is because the time commitment is significant and would be very challenging if you are also working a full-time shift rota pattern (this is typically 48 hours a week with nights and weekends).

“A significant amount of the course also requires you to use insight from the leadership and management structures within your own organisation, this can be difficult to get exposure to as a full-time clinician, so it is worth speaking to your respective medical director to get involved in these activities and processes.”

Future of the NHS 

Joseph believes the NHS is going through a major, but quiet overhaul – naming the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme as one such initiative placing homegrown innovation at the centre of NHS services.

He said: “Many NHS services have been slower than the private sector in their adoption of novel technology, (many hospitals still use fax machines and paper documentation) but this is quickly changing with huge emphasis being put on digitalisation of services.”

Not only will this make employees lives more straightforward, Joseph anticipates it will bring improvements in continuity and quality of care for patients. 

He added: “Another area of renewed interest is around machine learning and AI in diagnostics. It is yet to be seen how well this can be integrated into NHS services, but recent developments certainly make this an exciting space to watch.”

The healthcare industry offers a number of different avenues for MBA graduates and healthcare professionals alike to take – and with that in mind, although Joseph says it’s difficult to know what the future holds for him, the world is his oyster.  

He said: “From August I will be working at The Health Foundation on policy research but after that is still to be decided.

“I am considering pursuing a career in Public Health Medicine as this plays to my strengths and the skills learnt in the MBA, whilst allowing me to get my teeth stuck into system improvements and design.”

This article was originally published in May 2021 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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