West Virginia University's College of Business and Economics and School of Medicine have signed an agreement that will create a program aimed at providing medical students with important business credentials.
The two schools have collaborated to create the M.D./M.B.A. for medical school students during an optional "step out" year in the medical school curriculum, which occurs at the conclusion of their second year of study.
WVU President Jim Clements said the partnership between the two schools demonstrates how collaboration can help provide students with the skills needed to meet the challenges of today's world.
"Interdisciplinary collaborations like this one are important for our students," Clements said. "I applaud the faculty and staff at both B&E and Medicine for partnering to create this unique academic opportunity."
Provost Michele Wheatly emphasized the ways in which the new program exemplifies WVU's strategic goals. "This is an example of transforming a curriculum at the highest level," she said. "This program will engage students and faculty not only across disciplines but across campuses, with exciting implications for real-world impact."
"This partnership represents a collaborative effort to offer a critical component of 'business' education to WVU medical school students," Arthur J. Ross, III, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the WVU School of Medicine, said. "Today's world demands that professionals be business savvy, and the medical profession is certainly no exception to that. All students need this exposure but there are some who need the intense type of exposure that can only be provided by an M.B.A. program. Those students who envision themselves in positions of significant, high level administrative leadership anywhere in the medical arena would be examples of ideal candidates for this program."
"With increasing pressures due to changes in the medical industry, physicians will have to better understand the revenue streams and cost implications of their practices or organizations. An M.B.A. will increase their understanding of the business side of medical practices, and that's a huge plus," said Dr. Ross, who holds an M.B.A. in addition to his medical degree.
Wheatly agreed. "We're giving our students the tools to be truly innovative practitioners of medicine," she said. "These are the doctors who will become leaders in their chosen fields."
"Prospective students would apply to the WVU School of Medicine and to the M.B.A. program at the same time," said Dr. Jose Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean, WVU College of Business and Economics. "They would be admitted to both programs, which would allow them to step out to complete the M.B.A. after their second year. After they take a year to obtain the M.B.A., then they will resume their medical school curriculum."
Sartarelli, who worked with thousands of doctors during a 30-year career in the pharmaceutical industry with three Fortune 500 companies, said he saw first-hand that there is an appetite for business knowledge in the medical arena.
"There is a need to increase the business knowledge of professionals, and this program addresses that need in the medical industry," said Sartarelli. "A very real hunger for this kind of knowledge exists in the medical community and other areas, too. Working across disciplines to provide a program such as this will be incredibly beneficial to students."
The M.D./M.B.A represents the third cross-disciplinary collaboration for the College of Business and Economics. Programs currently exist between the business school and the College of Law for the J.D./M.B.A. degree and the Master of Science in Sport Management degree with the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.