Does a Physician Entrepreneur need an MBA after their MD?
Once again, in a blog post from the Harvard Business Review, the endless debate about whether entrepreneurs should get an MBA rears its ugly head. The arguments typically fall into the "just do it" camp, as exemplified by a quote in the article "entrepreneurship is a matter of the heart, and education is a matter of the brain. It is difficult to teach a heart" v those in the entrepreneurial education universe who have spent their lives justifying entrepreneurship as a legitimate academic domain.
This debate reminds me of conversations going on now about residency training requirements, duty hours, residency selection criteria (a recent journal article described how a professional management consultant inventoried what first year residents do and then suggested ways to structure interviews to identify and recruit them) and how we provide accelerated levels of education and training. As both a business and medical educator and someone with some experience in starting companies, I come to the same conclusion about nature v nurture: you can teach someone how to do surgery, but you can't teach them how to be a surgeon. I think the same holds true for entrepreneurship. Sure, there are certain behavioral traits and personality qualities that are correlated with entrepreneurial success. However, when it comes to understanding how to get 510(k) FDA approval, or how to read and analyze a term sheet, or how to create a value proposition, feasibility analysis or business plan, I'd rather take the easy road and learn from the mistakes others have made.
Some think entrepreneurs are born, others that they are made, and still others that they are self-made. Like medical students who choose surgery or a surgical subspecialty as a career choice, entrepreneurs who want additional education tend to be remarkably self-selective and successful. Those would-be entrepreneurs with boundless self-confidence, enthusiasm, intelligence and self-awareness will be successful despite their MBA's. However you parse the words, take someone with what it takes, add a first class education and the networks that result, and, in my view, the result is greater than the sum of the parts. There are many ways to the finish line. Just do what trips your trigger.