June 9, 2000

Schools of Medicine, Management create joint degree program

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Schools of Medicine, Management create joint degree program

Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine and the Owen Graduate School of Management have teamed to create a joint MD/MBA degree program.

The new five-year program was developed to address the growing challenges of the changing face of medicine as it's practiced in the United States.

"The advent of managed care, with its cost conscious considerations, has placed demands on health care professionals for business management knowledge," said Dr. Alexander C. McLeod, clinical professor of Medicine and adjunct professor of Management.

"Conversely, the public's concerns about patient protection in the setting of managed care has created the need for increasing physician involvement in the business side of health care."

To not only survive, but flourish, in today's complicated health care system demands a working knowledge of the system's business aspects. Increasingly, physicians need a clear understanding of economic and accounting principles in order to better care for their patients. Establishing a program that enables medical students the opportunity to also earn a degree in management will bolster health care in general.

"Society needs a few good doctors who understand business and medicine," said Dr. Deborah C. German, senior associate dean of Medical Education. "We must have the opportunity to ensure patient care is always a priority and those involved in giving the care have an educated voice in the management of the system."

Two third-year medical students — Christopher Ambrose and Sharat Kusuma — will enter the joint program this summer.

Joint degree students will complete both degrees in five years, saving one year, as medical school ordinarily takes four years and the Owen School program two years.

Students will spend their fourth year at the Owen School, and will spend the fall semester of year five in medical school and the spring semester of year five at the Owen School.

They also will spend two summers completing medical school requirements.

"The program will provide future physicians with an opportunity to acquire critical business skills that will better prepare them to contribute and shape the business of medicine," said Dr. Nancy Lea Hyer, associate dean for Academic Programs of the Owen School.

"We are excited about having a cadre of medical students as part of our MBA program. They will bring a different perspective and varied set of issues to classroom discussions. This will benefit all of our students," she said.