Opinion: 'Medical students should receive business management training earlier'

Two Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University professors are advising medical schools to incorporate business management courses into their curriculum. The experts said early training in business management could equip physicians to one day effectively manage their peers and make valuable decisions regarding their practice's future.

In an op-ed for Academic Medicine, Christopher Myers, PhD, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business, and Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, argue medical schools fail to develop physicians' management and leadership skills, leaving them to cultivate their abilities through a "haphazard array of training programs or trial-by-error [learning]."

The authors suggest in addition to receiving little to no formal management education, physicians are often promoted to managerial positions "based on their clinical or research prowess, resulting in a 'double loss' — the removal of a skilled doctor from a clinical role and the installation of a manger who may be unprepared to lead," according to the report.

To remedy the situation, Dr. Myers and Dr. Pronovost propose medical schools partner with their institution's business schools to create a "Management 101" course for medical students. The suggested course would focus on specific attributes good leaders exude, including communication and decision making, team leadership and information management and organizational dynamics.

"We are not naïve enough to believe that instituting 'Management 101' in medical education will completely resolve the leadership challenges facing physicians, or that it will be easy to find time in medical school curricula to incorporate this type of course … Still, it is a necessary first step toward elevating management abilities onto more equal footing with clinical knowledge for the majority of medical school graduates and more adequately preparing these graduates to lead and manage the delivery of high-quality, safe care in the modern medical enterprise," the authors stated.

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