Stethoscope on top of data sheets
November 9, 2016

The Tippie College of Business and the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa recently collaborated to design a new program that trains medical students in a wide range of business skills. The Distinc­tion Track includes 12 modules covering topics such as human resource management, marketing, law, negotiations, managerial accounting, data analytics, teamwork, quality, and safety. Students meet one Saturday per quarter to complete a four-hour session on one module, usually taught by a tenured or tenure-track professor. Delivered over a three-year period, the program’s duration is roughly the same as that of the medical school program.

Prior to each meeting, the med students complete two hours of self-guided case study. After each meeting, the students complete two to four hours of follow-up work with faculty to ensure that students understand the concepts.

Students must complete at least nine of the 12 modules, then partic­ipate in a capstone project guided by a mentor physician. Students who complete these requirements are awarded a certificate in healthcare delivery science and management.

The two colleges created the Distinction Track program at the sugges­tion of Alan Reed, a doctor, a professor of surgery at the Carver College, and an adjunct professor of accounting at the Tippie College. Reed recently completed his business degree through Tippie’s Executive MBA program. During that experience he realized the significant skills gap that existed be­tween practicing medicine as a skill and practicing medicine as a business.

This reality also is what moved dermatologist Marilyn Kwolek to donate the funding for the program. Kwolek was enthusiastic about its creation, says Reed, because she said that she wished she’d had more busi­ness knowledge before she started her own practice.

“We send medical students out largely not knowing how they are paid or by whom, what legal ramifications arise from issues such as medical errors, how to build and work in teams, how to run a business, how to negotiate a contract, or much at all about population health, healthcare delivery, or the business of healthcare in this country,” says Reed. “These concepts have never been taught well, or taught at all, in medical school.”

The Distinction Track was first offered during Carver’s spring 2016 se­mester—the program received 125 applications for 50 initial spots. Tippie is now working with the College of Pharmacy to develop a similar program for its students. Coordinators also hope to partner with the university’s colleges of dentistry, nursing, law, and education to design business lead­ership certificate offerings.