Ready for Something Completely Different?
If you are a practicing medical professional, you probably assumed that you were done with school when you completed your medical education. But a growing number of providers are finding out, in this rapidly changing healthcare environment, that additional schooling can give them an edge they need to be more effective in business and in medicine. How does a busy practitioner make it happen? We asked Dr. Walt Carlson, a Sioux Falls orthopedic surgeon who recently completed his Healthcare MBA at the University of Sioux Falls.
What prompted you to pursue your MBA?
WC: First, I thought it would enhance my skill set. We run our own practice and I have always enjoyed the business side of that. Also, I was asked to serve on a bank board and I realized after the first meeting that I did not really recognize their language as well as I would have wanted to. And finally, I was uncertain what I might do when I am no longer an orthopedic surgeon. So I thought this could open new opportunities for an ‘encore career’ down the road.
What was the biggest challenge of the program for you?
WC: Learning the technology was really the most challenging part for me. I was an English minor, but business writing was new to me. For me to get involved in writing and using the computer and technology in a business setting required me to learn a new set of skills there.
What would you say was a highlight of the program?
WC: One of the biggest highlights for me was the opportunity to get to know my younger classmates. It was fun to hear their thoughts on various issues and I think they enjoyed my approach, as well. The classes are very diverse, so it was a learning experience for all of us.
How much time did the program take and how did you fit it in with your practice schedule?
WC: I estimate that it probably took about 20 hours a week outside of my normal life to get the work done. Some classes require more time than others and you get out of it what you put into it. I spent many a Saturday and Sunday doing research and I spent a couple of vacations writing papers. But I think it has real benefit for physicians who want to know more about business and communication.
Do you think the program has helped you in your practice?
WC: Absolutely. I use things I learned and the insights I gained in this program every single day, in meetings I attend as well as in interactions with patients and staff. My approach to business meetings, and my ability to communicate, is totally different. I used to look at business communication as something that was black and white, but, after going through the program, I now see it in high definition Technicolor.
Editor’s note: Not only did Dr. Carlson complete the USF MBA in Healthcare program, but he was recognized with an Academic Achievement Award. “The old guy did it!” he says. More information can be found on the website USF - Sioux Falls, SD.