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We Need MD/MBEs, Not MD/MBAs


We have plenty of physician administrators. What we need now is a dual-degree program that pairs an MD with a Master's in Biomedical Entrepreneurship.

College Classroom, innovation and entrepreneurship, healthcare, physician entrepreneurship

In my view, we are training too many MD/MBAs that don't add value to the system. I believe many such programs should be terminated or restructured.

Instead, we should consider re-shuffling the deck and offer a new combined MD/ MBE (Master's in Biomedical Entrepreneurship) dual degree. Here's what it would look like:

1. A three-year program combining two years in medical school and one year in an accelerated MBE program, patterned similar to Professional Science Masters Programs.

2. The medical school curriculum would be separate and distinct from that offered to medical students interested in practicing medicine.

3. Clinical rotations should start on day one, intended to instill an entrepreneurial mindset and emphasize being a problem-seeker, not a problem-solver at this stage

4. Interdisciplinary education with experiential learning in project teams that include business, science, engineering, law, and other health professionals.

5. Experiential learning and a mandatory internship with a local, national, or international company in the biopharma, medtech, or digital health industries.

6. A new tuition and funding structure, possibly run by private equity or medical technology companies, who sponsor applicants. The present medical education business model won't work if it depends on short term revenue by putting butts in the seats.

7. Project teams would be offered proof of concept funding and iCorps team support.

8. Domain experts would work with project teams.

9. Each student would be assigned an entrepreneur mentor throughout the program.

10. Social biomedical entrepreneurship and ethics would be core streams throughout training. Those interested in creating nonprofits or going into public service might be candidates for tuition deferral or waiver.

We don't need more physician administrators. We need more physician innovators and entrepreneurs who can lead us out of our sick-care mess. While I believe the optimal career track involves a reasonable time practicing clinical medicine, students are thinking otherwise. Those students deserve a new path to creating the future, and medical and business educators need to create educational products that meet their needs.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice