During his third year of medical school, David Fajgenbaum was rushed to the hospital with multi-organ failure. He spent more than four months in the hospital and was diagnosed with a rare and deadly disorder called Castleman disease, which causes the immune system to attack vital organs.
After recovering from that first episode, David returned to medical school and set to work trying to understand what obstacles prevented medical scientists from finding a cure for his disease. Over time he realized that those obstacles weren't medical problems, but business challenges: a lack of overarching strategy, limited collaboration, and inefficient funding in medical research. Determined to save his own life, he enrolled in the MBA in Health Care Management program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School to learn how to help fix these problems.
As he began his MBA, he established the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network in 2012 to use business principles to drive research on the disease. The strategy worked, and the group was able to make substantial breakthroughs that have revolutionized the understanding of Castleman disease and its treatment. The model the network developed has become a blueprint for rare disease research and gave hope to thousands of people like David.
Stories like these hit home how phenomenally promising the healthcare field is for business-savvy leaders; the field is staring down a “disruption wave" as technology transforms core aspects of the sector. Those with an MBA in Healthcare Management will be well-positioned to help companies and healthcare providers navigate these changes and even harness them to open up new possibilities.
An MBA in Healthcare Management—sometimes referred to as an MBA in Health Administration or a Healthcare MBA—teaches students the skills they need to delve deeply into the business and financial sides of the healthcare field. Plus, it might even help them learn to make revolutionary and life-changing progress in how healthcare is managed.
This degree teaches a core business school curriculum with a healthcare focus. It can be completed in as little as a year, but usually takes two. Curricula are likely to include courses in operations, healthcare management, marketing, accounting, ethical leadership, financial management, economics, and strategy.
As Dr. Fajgenbaum’s story demonstrates, some students begin this degree with some professional work experience under their belt, as some programs require it. Other students of MBA in Healthcare Management programs enter directly from undergraduate study. Those who are best suited to these programs have a strong interest in business or finance but want to work in healthcare.
Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree and a GRE or GMAT score. Some programs are most interested in students with some work experience in management or healthcare.
MBA in Healthcare Management graduates find a wide array of work in healthcare and business, particularly in the areas where these fields intersect. Here are just a few of the career options that MBA in Healthcare Management grads can pursue.
MBA in Healthcare Management students are well-equipped to become leaders in healthcare institutions and in health-related businesses. Graduates may aim to become president, vice president, chief executive officer, chief operations officer, or chief marketing officer of a healthcare provider group or a company such as a device manufacturer or pharmaceutical firm.
Top executives earn substantial salaries, with a median annual pay hovering around $180,000. The top 10 percent of earners bring in upwards of $200,000, plus hefty bonuses and profit-sharing plans. Employment prospects for top executives are average for U.S. occupations—projected to grow 8 percent between 2016 and 2026.
MBA graduates moving into the healthcare industry have traditionally found work as brand managers at pharmaceutical companies, which today, remains a common pathway into the business of medicine. From marketing to finance to ethics, brand managers use a wide cross-section of their business skills in order to excel in this powerful and dynamic industry.
Pharma brand managers can expect to make $110,000 to $125,000 a year. The median salary for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers in general (not just in pharmaceuticals) is $132,620 per year. The job outlook for those working as marketing managers across industries are good, with 10 percent job growth expected between 2016 and 2016, faster than the U.S. average.
Hospital administrators run large, complex organizations that are responsible for life-saving care. They bring well-honed business skills and healthcare industry knowledge to the job in order to simultaneously manage the hospitals’ administrative functions, set and oversee its vision and direction, ensure compliance with legal and ethical standards, and stay up-to-date on innovations within the field.
Hospital administrators make a median annual salary of $88,500, with the top 10 percent of those in the field earning $170,000 or more. Those with the least experience might make a $50,000 base-pay and receive bonuses and profit-sharing plans to boost their income.
Those with an MBA in Healthcare Management can do well in strategic project management within healthcare institutions. Working in strategic development is like being an internal business consultant for a healthcare provider or group. As a business-minded professional, you would help an institution decide how to strategically approach business and administrative decisions.
While outside business consultants are likely to make more than project managers embedded in healthcare institutions, the latter tend to have better work-life balance, including less need to travel. And they are still well compensated, with an average annual salary at $72,675.
Business consultants dedicated to the healthcare field help health institutions and healthcare-related businesses make strategic decisions and manage processes of change. Graduates of MBA in Healthcare Management programs are an extremely good match for this field since it calls for a keen sense of business skills and solid perspective on the evolving world of healthcare.
Healthcare consultants bring in a median annual pay of $77,000, with higher earners making $122,000 plus bonuses, profit-sharing plans, and commissions. The job outlook for management consultants, in general, is positive, with employment predicted to grow 14 percent into 2026, or twice as fast the average U.S. occupation.
An MBA in Healthcare Management is a targeted path into professions where healthcare and business intersect. Graduates pursue work that can transform institutions, boost businesses, innovate, and impact many people in a positive way.
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