Long before medical school, I dreamt of becoming a Pediatrician with my own practice. I wanted to be my own boss, set my own hours and be completely in control. The only problem was my lack of business experience. Junior year of college, I contemplated a business minor, but decided on Psychology because it better aligned with the sciences and the pre-med track.
Upon arrival to Robert Wood Johnson Medical School for my interview, I was sweating bullets, of course, but eager to see what this school had to offer. We sat through an introductory PowerPoint that listed Alma matters of the current students, diversity statistics, and finally, dual degree programs. Remembering my dreams of entrepreneurship, I perked up immediately. The MD/MBA program partnered with Rutgers Business School (the top Public MBA school in the NYC area) and would only take one year! Walking out of my interview, I knew RWJMS would be the school for me because of the numerous opportunities.
During my second year, I was excited to apply to the MD/MBA program and matriculate between second and third year. While my school adequately prepared us with medical knowledge, it became clear when it came to business comprehension we were left to our own devices. How does insurance and billing work? Why is everyone always complaining about Medicaid? Eager to learn about the inner workings of the health care industry, I spoke to numerous alumni and they confirmed an MBA would be beneficial to my career.
Business school was comparable to learning a new language. My classmates had years of experience and could utilize phrases such as consumer behavior and strategic pricing. I just spent two years mastering words like hyperbilirubinemia and was back at square one. But I loved every second. Finance, econ, and accounting taught the basics of entrepreneurship: how money was lost, how it was gained, and how to manage it appropriately. My professors encouraged me to consider purchasing stocks, retirement plans, and real estate to start building investments. Second semester was dedicated to my healthcare management concentration. My classes focused on big pharma, pharmaceutical pricing, specific details of the Affordable Care Act, and consumer behavior in relation to private practices and hospitals.
Not only was I learning the business side of health care, but I was getting financial advice I could begin using immediately. Even though I was in my early twenties (the best time to start), I began investing and building short-term and long-term financial goals. Not to mention the skills I could use in medical school and during the residency application process. We went over resume writing, 30-second elevator pitches, and how to work the room at a networking event. I even learned how to hold a glass and plate in one hand to make sure the other hand was free to greet people.
The following summer, I wanted to test my newfound skills and landed an internship at WebMD. As a traditional medical student, I never had the opportunity to work a 9-5 in an office. For an entire summer, I had the pleasure of commuting to NYC, chatting with colleagues during coffee breaks, and having more responsibility than I would as a medical student.
Walking across the stage at graduation, I couldn’t be happier with this decision. I felt more prepared as an adult eventually entering the workforce. In addition to becoming financially cognizant, I became business savvy enough to understand how to advance my career with networking and maintaining close connections. I encourage everyone, at the very least, to take some business classes to understand how money works and how to make your money grow. Besides learning valuable information, you can gain excellent life skills.
Kamali Thompson is a MD/MBA student completing a research year in orthopedic surgery and will be applying for the 2020 match. She is a team USA fencer and 2020 Olympic hopeful. She is also an active blogger on her website, Saber & A Stethoscope, and active on twitter (@Kamali_Thompson) and Instagram (@dr.mali.mallz). She is also a 2018 - 2019 Doximity author.