executive MBA classroom
April 24, 2017
Tom Snee

Medical school students learn a lot of about health care, but a professor in the University of Iowa’s Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine says learning about business would be helpful too.

“We send students out of here largely not knowing how they are paid, who pays, the legal ramifications of issues like medical errors, how to build and work in teams, how to run a business, how to negotiate a contract, or much at all about the business of health care in this country,” says Alan Reed, professor of surgery and director of the UI Hospitals and Clinics Organ Transplant Center.

Given this ever-increasing complexity, Reed says physicians’ need for a basic understanding of business and leadership grows every year. To address that need, the UI has started a new program to provide business and leadership education and training services to clinicians, managers, and other health care leaders across the state. The Office of Healthcare Leadership Education (OHLE) will help health care providers better understand the economic forces at work in their practices. The OHLE is a partnership among the UI’s Tippie College of Business, Carver College of Medicine, and College of Public Health.

The OHLE will teach its first classes to doctors as part of a leadership-development track at the Iowa Medical Society (IMS) annual meeting on Saturday, April 29, in Des Moines. The three development sessions will teach change management and how to lead functional teams.

After that, the OHLE plans to expand the program to doctors and other health care providers across Iowa in a variety of locations and learning platforms.

“More and more physicians are looked to for administrative and financial leadership in their practices, and training like this will give them the additional C-suite skills they need to provide that leadership,” says Clare Kelly, executive vice president and CEO of the IMS.

Classes will be taught by Tippie College faculty, who have experience teaching business to managers and executives through its MBA and Executive MBA programs, and the medical and health care education experts from the Carver College of Medicine. The College of Public Health will contribute faculty who teach in its Master of Health Administration program, the Center of Healthcare Executive Studies and Services, and the Center for Health Policy and Research.

Ian Montgomery, clinical associate professor in the College of Public Health and director of the Center for Healthcare Executive Studies and Services, notes that 11 percent of the nation’s civilian workforce is in the health care industry, and nearly 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product is tied to health care.

“Health care organizations and their clinical professionals need highly qualified resources to stay up to date, informed, educated, and relevant with effective leadership skills,” Montgomery says.

The OHLE classes stem from a certificate program begun in the spring of 2016 for students in the Carver College of Medicine. That program, developed by Reed and Alexander Taylor, associate director of executive education programs in the Tippie College, offers classes about human resource management, marketing, law, negotiations, managerial accounting, data analytics, teamwork, quality, and safety.

A similar slate of topics will be taught to practicing physicians in the OHLE program. Kelly says health care changes on the horizon likely will make it even more important for doctors to possess business skills.

“So much of medicine is turning to performance measurements and doctors are going to be paid using those metrics, so they need to understand it,” she says.

While doctors can get this training through an MBA program—Reed, in fact, earned his from the Tippie College—Kelly says it takes time and resources that many doctors don’t have. A reduced frequency of classes offered in a certificate program makes it easier for doctors to participate.