Steps to incorporate business knowledge into the medical school curriculum


Declining reimbursements, health care law changes, and increased costs means the modern physician needs to have knowledge in business, law, and medicine. In today’s health care environment business acumen is becoming a necessity few practices can survive without. A recent CNN/Money article highlighted physicians going bankrupt. Lack of a basic understanding of running a business was a common theme for failed practices in the article. Another article, written in Forbes on “Doctors Going Broke” stated that failed business models along with the overly complex coding system were factors contributing to increased bankruptcy rates among physicians. As one physician stated, “Doctors are trained in medicine but not how to run a business.” In bankruptcy, everyone loses: the physician, the patients, and the employees.

The need for medically related business and managerial training for medical students and physicians is an area of education that has been frequently discussed among physicians in private and academic practice. However, little has been done by physicians or in formal programs of medical or graduate medical education to address the need to introduce this type of training. Sure there are many programs offering dual MD/MBA degrees: Harvard, Dartmouth, and the University of Texas to name a few. But, is getting an MBA really necessary? This requires a minimum of an extra year of study. Also, one must be selected into such programs, not to mention more debt incurred for the student. The MD/MBA programs do not offer positions to all medical students; they can’t, and the logistics simply aren’t feasible. Why not make business knowledge available to all medical students by making it part of the medical curriculum?

The Business and Medicine Organization (BAM) was founded at the Florida State University College of Medicine on Nov. 1, 2011. The purpose of BAM is to educate our students about the practical and financial aspects of working in the medical field in the 21st century. BAM provides speakers with topics of interest relating to the business aspects of medicine. This includes employment, starting a practice, legal aspects, contracts, investments, insurance companies, and basic economic principles. The ultimate goal of BAM is to incorporate a business course into the medical school curriculum. The vision is for this course to be an elective at first in cooperation with the Florida State College of Business. Eventually, this will be a required course.

Since its inception, BAM has grown from 4 members to almost 100 members. This year it started a yearly scholarship given to those students interested in “the business aspect of medicine.” We now have a working partnership with the College of Business. The next step is incorporating business into the curriculum. Last year’s BAM President, Aarian Afshari, met with the curriculum committee to push a business elective into the curriculum. We are still actively working with the curriculum committee on this issue. Since the current member count of BAM is close to 100 members, we will exert a strong influence on the curriculum committee’s decision. Basic business knowledge is a necessity for the physician in the economic reality of health care in the 21st century.

Mr. Hayson is currently a fourth-year medical student at Florida State University, Tallahassee. His goal is to become a vascular surgeon. Before entering medical school, he worked on Wall Street for 5 years as an equities and commodities trader. He has a BS in Finance from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Penn., and a BS in Molecular and Microbiology from the University of Central Florida, Orlando.


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