Should Doctors Interested in Entrepreneurship Get an MBA?

Should Doctors Interested in Entrepreneurship Get an MBA?

Should Doctors Interested in Entrepreneurship Get an MBA?

One of the most hotly debated and and frequently asked questions by doctors interested in non-clinical entrepreneurial career opportunities is, "Should I get an MBA?"

I received my MBA 8 years after graduating from medical school in 1976. I consequently helped create a combined MD/MBA program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Business School in the mid 90's as well as other programs. There are now two MD/MBA programs, one in Denver and one at the main campus in Boulder. Here are the medical schools that offer combined MD/MBA programs in the US now. Over 500 medical students (out of about 20,000 graduates each year) now graduate with a combined MD/MBA degree. Obviously, things have changed since I graduated.

Since then, after my first career as an academic surgeon/professor, I now help colleagues get their ideas to patients as a sick-care innovation and entrepreneurship educator, consultant and CEO and cofounder of a global non-profit biomedical and clinical innovation and entrepreneurship network.

The decision whether to get an MBA is, of course, a personal one and rests, like all purchases, on your cost/benefit analysis.

Arguments for Doctors Getting an MBA


  1. Acquiring certain business knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies.
  2. Expanding your networks.
  3. Getting credentials.
  4. More job opportunities.
  5. Learning new skills.
  6. Adding credibility to your resume.
  7. Marketability for future jobs or careers.
  8. Better time management.
  9. Developing communication and problem solving skills. 
  10. It will help you run your private practice.
  11. It will make you a better entrepreneur.
  12. It will help you run your health service organization or practice.

Arguments against Doctors Getting an MBA


  1. Costs, time and effort.
  2. Lack of direct applicability to sick-care or entrepreneurship.
  3. Diversity of program structure and process that may not fit your specific objectives or needs or schedule.
  4. Most of the education, resources, networks, peer to peer support and career guidance are available online, mostly for free.
  5. The future of work is questioning credentials.
  6. Gradually, medical schools, professional societies and graduate medical education accreditation associations are beginning to understand the value of providing systems science and education and training in the business of medicine.
  7. Competing priorities.
  8. Stage of life issues.
  9. Programs teaching business or entrepreneurship as theory, not art.
  10. The changing perceptions of the value of a graduate business education.
  11. Are doctors willing and able to supplement their clinical mindset with an entrepreneurial one?
  12. Most business schools define entrepreneurship as the process of creating a company or working in one. Healthcare entrepreneurship includes not just creating a company, but  social entrepreneurship, technology entrepreneurship, and medical practice entrepreneurship as well.

If you are a doctor or medical student interested in biomedical and clinical innovation and entrepreneurship, instead of health systems management, leadership or policy, if, when, where and how you get an MBA is your call. No one questions the value of education and life-long learning. There is no right or wrong time to get your MBA even if you are a doctor, rather it’s up to each individual. Entrepreneurship is a life long learning process. 

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  • John C

    It's up to each doctor to know whether an MBA degree is relevant in their entrepreneurial career.

  • Andrew Mason

    MBA degrees are irrelevant for healthcare professionals unless they are changing their career.

  • Colin Knapton

    Doctors can develop more communication and leadership skills but it's time consuming.

  • Sandy K

    It's a debatable topic !

  • Claire Layfield

    Excellent info

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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