Douglas Lyssy

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Howard Forman MD


Background: The recent increase in the number of programs offering a combined medical doctorate and masters in business administration (MD/MBA) degree means an increase in the number of medical students with MBAs applying for residency training. While these students hope that residency program directors will see the benefits of having on staff a resident with business skills many, however are now confronted with some of the medical community's negative attitudes toward business and management. These students are concerned about the perception that those who seek business training have "sold out" or "are in it for the money" and whether this bias will become an issue when applying for residency training. Then there are more substantiated concerns involving program completion or dedication to clinical practice. Will these aspiring future leaders in medicine be recognized for the extra dedication to pursue the joint degree or is the fear that these students will be perceived as less favorable to the residency directors making the decisions be warranted? Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the following hypothesis: Completing an MBA as a medica1 student will have an impact on residency directors' decisions to accept MD/MBA students into their residency programs. This project also aims to assess whether such an impact would be positive or negative. Methods: Four specialties were chosen. Internal medicine and radiology were selected as the two non-surgical specialties while general surgery and orthopedic surgery were selected as the two surgical specialties. This study is based on surveys completed by program directors via email between December 2006 - February 2007 and is designed to assess the opinions and attitudes they have toward candidates enrolled in the joint degree MD/MBA programs. This study uses scaled responses from 1 through 5 with 1 being strongly positive and 5 being strongly negative. Results: There were 244 surveys returned from residency directors across the country (29% response rate, n=851). When residency directors were asked to characterize the effect of the joint degree the results showed that overall there seems to be a positive bias toward those applicants with MBAs (mean score of 2.44, 95% C.I. 2.34, 2.53). However, there was some difference of opinion among the specialties with general surgery having only 2% (1/55) of program directors indicating a strongly positive effect while 13% (7/54) of radiology program directors responded with a strongly positive effect. Also notable was that 28% (18/65) of general surgery program directors agreed that an important concern was that a resident with an MBA may not complete the program, while only 7% (4/59) of radiology program directors agreed. Conclusions: According to the results in this thesis medical students applying to residency with an MD/MBA will indeed have a slight advantage over their MD only counterparts. However, even though on average there appears to be a positive benefit to completing an MBA while in medical school there is a minority of directors in all four specialties that view the MBA as a negative. The next step is to expand on this study to verify this positive effect, validate the concerns and to understand more about the colliding cultures of medicine and business.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access