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Why do doctors do MBA?

Why do some doctors leave the scalpel for corporate boardrooms? PaGaLGuY.com tries to figure out by chatting up with a few.

What do Dr Kapil Raina, a product manager at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), former Armyman Dr Biju Mohandas, an MBA student at the Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad, Dr Girish Bakhru, currently studying at Faculty of Management Study (FMS), University of Delhi and Dr Ashima, alumna of Management Development Institute (MDI) Gurgoan and currently working with ICICI One source, have in common?

They are all qualified doctors who later shifted gears to study an MBA.

Until a few years ago, Medicine and MBA in India were complete strangers. In recent times, however, a business management degree has become a popular option for doctors. The trend is still in the nascent stage, but with changing times it may soon become a popular career choice for doctors.

Attraction towards the MBA

After years of either studying or practicing medicine, some doctors feel they need to obtain an advanced business degree such as a MBA.

The reasons seem to be mainly to gain self-sufficiency, job satisfaction, and a better position for themselves in the managed Healthcare sector. Better monetary rewards and new business prospects are an added draw.

According to Dr Girish Bakhru, a MBBS and now pursuing a full time MBA at FMS says, During my course I realized that I didnt want to continue with medicine. I wanted to do something more exciting and challenging, which would also give me satisfaction. Even though I have taken up management, I still intend to use my medical expertise.

Medicine is a very specialized field. Whereas a business degree provides you a larger canvas to explore and helps you broaden your horizons. I wanted an adventurous career path. But at the same time my medicine degree has helped me understand people better and interact with them efficiently, says Dr Javed Sipahi a student of Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB).

Dr Ashima has her own reasons for taking up a MBA. I was not very keen on medicine but coming from a family of doctors it was an inevitable choice. While studying I realized that I didnt want to look at clinical medicine as a long term option, and therefore went on to take up management. Earlier I wasn’t fascinated by it but after being apart of the management course my perception changed, she says.

“Since I plan to start my own business at a later stage in the future, I would like to get some corporate exposure, she supplements.

Change in perspective

While B-schools provide substantial expertise and skills, many doctors feel that B-schools have also given them a change in perspective.

Doctors are usually strong headed human beings. They have logic for everything, but at the same time they totally understand that every logical train of thought doesnt need to have a conclusion. Thus they dont get easily affected or influenced by others. I have learnt a lot from my MBA batchmates. Earlier I had a tubular vision, but the new atmosphere altered it. Management helps you remove your mental blocks and gives you wider perspective, making you receptive to change, divulges Dr Kapil Raina, a K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research alumnus and currently working with GSK as a Product Manager.

Management certainly gives you a newer and wider perspective. One not only starts thinking from a clinical aspect but also from the administrative aspect. The students are from diverse backgrounds thus we learn a lot from each other. The exposure is enormous not only in the healthcare field but also in other sectors, states Dr Biju Mohandas, MBA student at ISB.

Change in environment

Medicine is altruistic in nature whereas business tends to be more competitive and ruthless in character. With both fields being so different temperamentally, one really wonders how doctor-managers cope and adapt to the change in environment.

Like businessmen doctors too want to earn money. Most of the times doctors are interacting with patients. They have little social life. The hospital atmosphere is filled with depression and agony where they spend most of their time. On the other hand a business atmosphere is lively and dynamic. One is constantly interacting with large number of individuals and with every communication one is learning new things. says Dr Bakhru.

According to Dr Kapil Raina, Medicine has lost its altruistic nature to an extent. Everything has become commercialized, after all doctors are also human and have the urge to earn money. In fact formally pursuing a business degree has helped me use my medical knowledge and business expertise by working in the relevant field and earning a handsome amount of money rather than being vindictive.

Also another aspect in terms of change in environment is with respect to the curriculum and the traditional perception about doctors.

“Being a doctor the first impression my batch mates had about me was of being studious and a complete bookworm. Initially the curriculum was difficult to cope with, especially the math and numbers. But it is definitely easier than doing a post graduation in medicine, Dr Javed Sipahi of XIMB opines.

There is a drastic change for them but they learn a lot during this two year process. Some of them have a problem in mathematics but at the end of their course they pass with good results. We teach them a wide range of subjects like healthcare laws, dealing with organizational changes, marketing of healthcare as well as other products. says Dr Kavita Singh, Professor at FMS, Delhi.

Future opportunities

Business education may be rigorous, but the hard work and expense can actually yield more opportunities. The doctor-managers declare in chorus that they would prefer making use of their medical knowledge along with business skills.

Dr Biju Mohandas of ISB reveals, There are various options for doctor-managers but finally it depends on what the individual wants to do. Some students want to leave medicine completely thus they take up options like investment banking. On the other hand there are few who want to work in the clinical as well as administrative field thus they have an option of working in hospitals, carrying out clinical research or being a part of medical tourism.

The industry can be divided into two divisions, services and products. In case of services doctor-managers can be involved in any functional aspect including finance, marketing or human resources. But on the other hand in products doctor-managers are mainly involved in only certain fields like marketing or supply chain, says Dr Ashima.

Even though I have taken up business management I always wanted to continue in the healthcare sector. The healthcare industry provides you with varied options. An individual with a medicine background can take up any specialization and yet be apart of the Healthcare industry. The various options are IT consulting, research and development for pharmaceutical companies or individuals can handle administrative functions within hospitals. One can also take up marketing for healthcare organizations. Personally I feel marketing and supply chain are complimentary in nature, thus I took it up and it has helped me a lot in what Im currently doing, elaborates Dr Kapil Raina of GSK.

What the industry says

With business management degree gaining popularity among medicine graduates the industry too is slowly waking up to these new management entrants.

Industry is slowly recognizing the entry of doctors into the business field. The industry has started working towards finding appropriate roles for them in the management team. The industry wants to make best possible use of them thus they are working to nurture and cultivate them, in order to fit them into managerial roles accordingly, explains Mr Kapil Raina of GSK.

Corporate hospital chains like Apollo, or pharma companies like Wockhardt require individuals with not only clinical but administrative knowledge. In other sectors too doctors are recruited largely in their healthcare division. For example a student was recruited by Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) in there the healthcare division, discloses Dr Kavita Singh.

Most of the doctors in the full time MBA batch have varied career options therefore can choose any they desire. Whereas in the specialized Healthcare MBA the students are trained for jobs only in the healthcare industry, she concludes.

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