A survey last spring of physician executives by Witt/Kieffer, Ford, Hadelman & Lloyd, an executive search firm in Oak Brook, Ill., found that 18 percent had a business or management degree. A survey three years earlier, which may not be exactly comparable because of changes in survey methods, found 9 percent of doctor/managers with business or health administration degrees. In 1990, the figure was 6 percent; in 1979, zero.
And programs are popping up rapidly to meet the demand. A few began in the late 1980s, but most have started in the last three years, and more are in the planning stages. There are several different models:
* Programs, such as the one at Hopkins, providing graduate business training specifically for doctors and other health professionals. Some are short-term, such as the University of Utah, which has a ten-week course, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Business, which offers a 14-week mini-course to help doctors manage their practices. Others offer full-scale master's degree programs aimed at physicians and other clinicians, such as the ones at Duke, the University of Wisconsin and University of California at Irvine.
* Joint M.D.-MBA programs, in which students work toward a medical degree and a business master's at the same time. Usually, the program takes five years. Often, this occurs at universities with both business and medical schools, such as Georgetown University and the University of Chicago. At Tufts University, 15 of the 173 members of this year's entering medical school class chose the joint degree option. And the University of Southern California offers joint MBA programs with its dental, pharmacy, nursing and gerontology programs as well.
* "Executive MBA" programs, which attract substantial numbers of doctors. Executive MBA programs offer courses during evenings and/or weekends to attract students who have full-time jobs. Among those reporting physician enrollment in general executive MBA programs are the University of Florida and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Among schools offering executive MBA programs with a health emphasis, the University of Connecticut has a number of doctors studying in a class that also includes hospital administrators, HMO executives and insurance officials.
For master's programs, the diploma awarded may be an MBA, but it may be a master's in health administration, public health, medical management or something else, such as Hopkins' "master of science in business with a concentration in medical services management."
"It's basically an alphabet soup as to the types of degrees," says Patrick Sobczak, president of the Accrediting Commission on Education in Health Services Administration. He said his organization has identified 36 different graduate degrees that include course work in health administration.
Mix of programs
Along with the mix of degrees, there is a mix of ways of delivering the instruction. Many programs try to draw students from a wide area, and offer weekend classes with housing for those who need it. A few are starting to offer "distance learning," including Internet connections.
The Hopkins version is designed around a clientele that is heavily Hopkins-based. Classes are on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 5: 30 to 8: 30 p.m. The pretzels and vegetables are provided to sustain students. Because the courses are all at the medical complex, Hopkins doctors who are enrolled can attend to medical emergencies and return to class.
Last year at a certificate ceremony, Wafer said, one "graduate" of the program was beeped, went across the street and delivered two babies, changed back into a dress and was handed her certificate.
Students take one course at a time, for 10n three-hour classes. Each entering class stays together as a "cohort" throughout the program. Tuition is $6,000 a year; $5,200 for Hopkins employees.
Given the popularity of the program and others like it, Heaphy says, Hopkins is considering a variety of ways to expand it, including possibly a distance learning component.
Hopkins program at a glance
Courses: Each course is ten classes, meeting three hours in the evening on the medical campus.
Tuition: $1,500 per course, or $6,000 a year.
Students: More than 200 students have enrolled since the program began in September 1994, 86 percent of them physicians.
Certificate program: Four courses -- managed care, accounting, finance and leadership.
Master's program: Three more years of courses beyond the one-year certificate curriculum, including medical economics, clinical practice improvement, legal issues in health care, strategic planning for health organizations. Also requires a major project. Degree: master of science in business with a concentration in medical services management.
Pub Date: 1/12/97