It can be tiring to keep switching between degrees and studying additional material. But if you have interests besides your MD, with a little dedication and hard work, earning a double degree isn’t impossible. Of course, I’m speaking from my own experience and information I found online. Different dual degree students will have varying experiences, and an MD/MBA program will definitely be different from other programs as well!
What is a Dual Degree?
Basically, a dual degree or a double degree in medicine means enrolling into a program that includes two degrees upon graduation. There are many universities that offer these types of programs, even abroad. They can vary between programs such as, MBA, JD, MPH, PhD, and other postgraduate programs. It can add years to your stay in medicine to make room for the extra courses you’ll have to take to get the other degree. Yes, this means more studying for you. So why take a dual degree program?
Having a double degree can save time for people who are planning to take another path after medical school, such as law. Another reason is that it gives you an advantage in getting the jobs you want. A dual degree can look attractive in related fields. For example, I took up an MD/MBA because I want to open up a clinic or manage a hospital department someday. People with MD/MPH degrees will have the upper hand in getting jobs working with communities and even global health organizations. There are many jobs you can get with your MD, and getting another degree can broaden your options.
How Hard is it to Double Major?
I found that it actually isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It can seem intimidating at first. After all, it’s a whole other track of study that you’ll be balancing with medicine. For me, neither was harder than the other. They’re just very different. At first, it felt like a struggle between having a medical mindset then shifting to a business mindset right after, and vice versa. Eventually I learned to shift between them with ease, and even find connections between the two.
My MBA started becoming my rest from medicine. It was a breath of fresh air to enter class to learn about the Principles of Management after coming from hours of Anatomy and Physiology. Of course, there were subjects in business that I found difficult, such as Finance. So it wasn’t always easy. There was even a time I had to balance hospital rotations with writing my final paper for the MBA. It was in those days that I wondered if I had made the right decision. But once I was congratulated for finishing my MBA program, it felt worth it.
Apart from the program itself, it can be hard getting accepted in the first place. While you have to take the MCAT for medicine, you also need to take tests for the other courses, for example, the GMAT for MBA, the LSAT for law, and sometimes the GRE for a PhD. So it may be advisable to talk to a counselor or advisor on how to go about getting into a double major program!
Business or Medicine? Or Business and Medicine?
Many people think these two fields are worlds apart, and they might be right. When you’re rotating in a hospital, you don’t really concern yourself over its finances or marketing. At the most, you usually just care about the operations and different management styles in a department because these are the aspects that directly affect you.
So why did I choose to take business and medicine? Whether we like it or not, a hospital is a business. While medicine already gives you a perspective on how to help patients, a business perspective will allow you to see the flaws in a department’s operations. For example, in a department with slow patient treatment time, it can be hard to pinpoint where the problem lies. But an MD/MBA doctor can analyze where the bottlenecks in operations might be and how to change their policies accordingly.
Moreover, like any business, hospitals and clinics are bound to close due to mismanagement and financial problems. From 2005-2019, 162 rural hospitals in the United States closed due to these reasons and their failure to expand. But where hospitals should ideally be run by doctors, many of them lack the capability to make strategic decisions and communicate effectively in a business setting. Having expertise in both fields can bridge the gap between medicine and business, improving patient care for not just one patient, but for every patient that comes through the hospital or clinic.
So, Was it Worth it?
I learned valuable lessons taking up my two degrees. While it may have taken some extra time, it brings me closer to my goal of running a hospital department or starting my own clinic. And it’s not just MBA programs! Having a new perspective in patient care, whether it’s business, public health, law, or research, can add so much value.
Of course, being an MD on its own has its merits. But for those that wish to do more in another field, I encourage you to consider taking a dual degree because patient care is a holistic process and doesn’t end after medical treatment.