This week we have a BLOG that every driven, ACHIEVER physical therapist MUST read . . .
Ben Fung, DPT, MBA shares his thoughts on the value his MBA has added to his young career. I love Ben’s perspective and share his feelings. Getting an MBA changed my career and gave me a much broader view of physical therapy as a business, of the necessity for leadership development, and of the need to drive change.
Kick back, put your feet up, read Ben’s thoughts, then get on line and check out your local MBA programs.
Here’s what Dr. Ben Fung has to say about his MBA experience . . .
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5 Ways my MBA made me a better PT
By Ben Fung, DPT, MBA
Several years ago, I had a life changing conversation with my hospital’s CEO. At the time, I was serving in an acute care setting where I garnered some recognition for my work. Given the opportunity to effect change at higher levels, I found the experience both thrilling and profoundly rewarding. I wanted to do more. As I sought the guidance from my CEO, he told me something rather shocking. As a PT, regardless of my doctorate level education, I remain only a clinician. However, if I were to become something more; something of regard to the executive suite, then I could make a big impact. He told me to go get an MBA.
I went home to think on this. My DPT wasn’t enough. He said I needed an MBA. I needed more graduate school. It didn’t settle well with me. Yet, after a few days of contemplation, I saw the wisdom. The practice of physical therapy is but a segment in healthcare. And, just like healthcare, physical therapy isn’t all clinical. Sadly, that is the overwhelming majority of what we are taught.
The truth is, healthcare as it stands, is a business. It has its own economic ecosystem with suppliers, consumers, shareholders, stakeholders, and a complex supply chain. Healthcare is also riddled with a dynamic political landscape that is also largely ignored in school. I would soon find that through an MBA, many of the healthcare quandaries that felt so afar and out of the circle of my influence as a clinical PT became quickly accessible. What was more important, I became more important to the healthcare executive circle of thought.
This post highlights five ways that my MBA made me a better physical therapist.
Here are my Top 5 MBA Benefits
It gave me leverage.
As I mentioned, the first thing I noticed was that even being enrolled in an MBA program garnered interest from healthcare administrators, clinical managers from other disciplines, and those in the executive suite. The fact of the matter is that there are too many “Ds” in the world of healthcare. For the most part, only the MD and the DO “matter.” Everything else represents a hyper-educated clinician. In contrast, the MBA is a universal credential of high repute. The reason: people think MBAs know how to make you money. For high level managers who have a lot of financial burdens on their plate, this is an attractive thing that someone under their chain of command can possibly find new ways of making their business structure more efficient with less cost and better profits. The MBA gave me leverage. Ears would perk. Eye would meet. Meetings would listen with attention. The MBA meant that what I had to say had validity and significance as it pertained to the operations involved. It made me more than a clinician to senior management. It made me a prospective colleague.
It made a marketer out of me.
The second way getting an MBA made me a better PT was that it made a marketer out of me. Marketing is
one of the furthest of subjects covered in PT school. It is also not a very popular topic amongst PTs en masse. Funny enough, marketing became my MBA concentration. You see, I used to think marketing was all about “getting the word out.” You know, ads, viral social media campaigns, promos, etc. But really, marketing is more about strategy and analysis. It is that think tank stuff with lots of data, calculations, research, and knowledge of all the other business disciplines such as operations, supply chain, finance, accounting, statistics, etc. It’s an all in one execution center where strategic initiatives are carried out. It made me more aware of the marketplace around me so that I could reach out to key partners. It allowed me to connect with people who could help me keep my supply chain healthy. Most importantly, it helped me see the market from the eyes of consumers. Those who consume our services directly as well as those who consume our services indirectly. It taught me that being a marketer is all about driving demand so that business can be sustained, grown, and continually innovated.
It made me appreciate the money.
Until I went through some numbers-based courses, I found it quite easy to sit on a clinical high horse. Many times I found myself thinking, “Clinical quality is all that matters.” But, the reality is, the only reason we have jobs is because someone pays for it. Healthcare is an economic ecosystem; either you pay for it, I pay for it, we pay for it, or someone else pays for it. I discovered that we PTs must appreciate the microeconomics of our own little streams and ponds. Still more importantly, we need to open our eyes to how our little body of water connects with the rest — how it flows with the open ocean. While the PT culture was busy glorifying the idea of being independent, autonomous, and self reliant, the nursing industry quickly realized that to make a difference, they needed to appreciate the business of healthcare. Nurses made a move on this area quickly which is why so many healthcare executives are nurses who have their MBA. To make a large-scale difference at the strategic levels in healthcare, one must appreciate the money.
It helped me understand the supply chain.
Where physical therapy stands in the supply chain of healthcare is an important consideration at any setting and for any practice. There are multiple tiers where physical therapy can be utilized. And, it is important to know where that location is. More importantly, it is important to know the people who precede you and who succeed you in the healthcare experience. By having a better understanding on how I affected the supply chain, I was able to make alliances with those across the supply chain. Together, we created new and improved value chains, which returned value to my program and theirs. The result? My team and I led our company in regional efficiency and profits. An impressive feat, especially considering the cost of business in Southern California is quite a bit higher than the surrounding states and associated regions. Understanding the supply chain ultimately gave me the appreciation for the partners that physical therapy business units rely upon. Helping myself help them, helped them help me. It was a sublime symbiosis.
It supercharged my entrepreneurial spirit.
The most exciting aspect of how the MBA made me a better PT was the way it supercharged my entrepreneurial spirit. Going into PT school, my 5-year goal was to start my own practice. That was the pinnacle extent of my understanding of how to be an entrepreneur as a physical therapist. Through the MBA, however, I began to see options far outside the lines of clinical work. I began to see my skill set as a PT as just that, a set of skills one can use for ANY purpose, rhyme, or reason. So long as I was creating appreciable value for a market demand, I would generate value for everyone. I found my first niche primarily in case consultations for small business owners, healthcare executives, and even some venture capitalists — some interested in healthcare, others interested in other industries. Most recently, and in a truly exhilarating development, I decided to join UpDoc Media — a start up media company founded by three DPTs. If that isn’t entrepreneurial, I don’t know what is! You can follow @updocmedia on Twitter.
Some Closing Thoughts
The MBA made me a better PT because it gave me a more complete understanding about what being a physical therapist actually means to the rest of the world. It opened my eyes beyond the clinic walls. It showed me potential beyond for what I could simply bill. The MBA experience unveiled a completely new world of options to what a physical therapist can do. And, I can tell you this, there is much more to our world as physical therapists than that of patient care. There is the infinite space of human experience we can bring value to. The only question . . . ? Will you seize the opportunity?
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Ben and many other PTs have benefitted from the learning experience of earning their MBA. Sound intimidating? It shouldn’t be. Getting your MBA is a lot of work, but the time goes by fast, and it is well worth the effort. There are an increasing number of MBA programs available. Many can be accessed on line, most have numerous and flexible schedules, and programs can now be completed more quickly than in years past. Google ‘MBA Programs’ and you will find numerous options. Check out your local colleges and universities. Talk to your peers who have their DPT and MBAs. Take an MBA to lunch and ‘pick her brain’. You can do it!
To build on Ben’s message and to get another great perspective from a financial health care expert . . . here is a 17’ video of Joe White, CPA, MBA, from Clifton Larson Allen professional services group, who talks about Leading for Financial Success. Joe is another advocate of getting your MBA degree and engaging in a “love for learning”. It will be well worth your time!
– Dr. Ben Fung, Guest Blogger
Keep Learning. Keep Leading.
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