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Should I do an MBA?

We are often asked about the value of an MBA when changing careers. With increasing number of doctors are applying to MBA programmes, does having an MBA affect their career?

Dr Amit Thaper – Consultant, Bain & Company

Amit left medicine in 2007, right before MMC came into effect. After working at Bain & Company for three years, he decided to study for an MBA at Harvard Business School. Below, Amit explains why he went back to study:

Knowledge Gap

Joining Bain was a revelation because I realised that the logic and skills we learn in medicine can be applied to a lot of business problems. However, once I learnt the quantitative skills and frameworks in consulting, I found there was a gap in my knowledge that only a formal business education could have given me, so I went to business school. As well as learning new business skills, studying for an MBA has other advantages:

1. Broadens your background and experience, so you aren’t confined to just healthcare
2. International exposure to different business models and career opportunities
3. Develop a network of colleagues and alumni who can play an important part in your future career
4. Add a strong brand to your CV
5. Have fun!

Timing

If you are considering applying for an MBA, you can do so straight from medicine or after working in another industry for a while. Having some business experience helps a little, both in terms of writing application essays and during the degree itself.

One thing that you shouldn’t forget is that applying for business school is time consuming. You have to study and sit the GMAT, write application essays and get references all while working demanding hours in the NHS. The average time to prepare everything is 6-8 months, so plan on building this into your schedule and giving up significant free time.

Cost

Business school is also expensive, particularly the USA schools offering two year degrees. I was fortunate to have been sponsored by Bain & Company during my time at Harvard, but on average, students can expect to pay $160,000 – $200,000 over two years towards tuition, health insurance and living costs. Add to this the lost earnings given most MBA courses are full-time, and the economic outlay is significant. There are clearly options to reduce this cost by doing a one year degree, staying in the UK or doing distance / part-time learning, but I think the two year USA courses offer unparalleled learning opportunities.

Conclusion

After five years of medical school, another two years of study wasn’t a problem. Medicine is about lifelong learning and skills development; the same applies for business. Overtime, I think the return on the time and money invested at business school will be amazing, no matter how you choose to measure it.