Reconciling Art, Profession, Business
I spent 12 years studying to become a physician, and of all the courses I took, not one was about business. Consequently, I entered private practice, like most new physicians, poorly equipped to run a business. Yet I found in my anesthesiology practice I was called upon to be as much a business person as a clinician. That’s the reality for all doctors in private practice; or put another way, “Healing is an art, medicine is a profession, health care is a business.”*
I was reminded of this truism by an article in the New York Times this week about the growing trend at universities to offer joint MD/MBA degree programs. In some ways, it’s a sad commentary on the state of medical affairs in this country; but given the fact that it is now as much the “business of medical practice”, as it is the “practice of medicine”, it has become more of a necessity.
I, for one, am now happily applying my first-hand knowledge of the physician’s world as an employee of a healthcare information technology company. To be sure, it’s different from being in clinical practice – but it’s still a blend of art, profession and business. I feel as if I’m getting my MBA right now.
[* Dr. John E. Prescott, chief academic officer, Association of American Medical Colleges, quoted in The New York Times, Sept. 6, 2011]