The decision to pursue an MBA was a process that started in 1998. At that time, I was newly married and had been a Physical Therapist for eight years. I have experienced working in various settings, but what I discovered was that not one setting had all the attributes that I wanted in order to sustain my interest until retirement. Working in a hospital or acute care setting is good academically. I was able to have plenty of face time with the physicians and even had the opportunity to observe orthopedic surgeries. Unfortunately, hospitals tend to pay the least among the employment settings for PT’s.
I found also that it was difficult to advance professionally because the places where I have worked do not have a career ladder, or there was no room for promotion since the incumbents have no plans on leaving their position. Long-term care facilities generally offer more by way of salary. Places that I have worked also allow for flexibility in schedule so that I didn’t have to lose time off if I had to go to an appointment. There is also a clear career ladder for those who want to advance. The pace, however, is a little too slow for me. I needed constant mental stimulation which I never found in long-term care.
Outpatient and home care were also options that only worked for a short time. Also, physical therapy is a very physically demanding job. I just couldn’t see myself in my 50’s or 60’s still trying to get patients out of bed and teaching them how to walk. Thus, I decided that if a management position in healthcare was not in my future, I would have to go into a different career altogether. I started considering other career choices when an opportunity to move into an administrative position presented itself. I was offered a Therapy Program Manager position for a rehabilitation services contracting company.
This job was in a skilled nursing facility overseeing day-to-day operations in all of the rehabilitation disciplines. In spite of the position being in Long Term Care, the opportunity to break into management was too much to pass up. I learned a lot from my mentor during this time. I learned how to manage productivity, conflict resolution, marketing, and personnel relations. From there, I moved on to various managerial positions where I learned other aspects of management. I learned how to read Profit ; Loss statements, budgeting, and human resource management. I enjoyed this new aspect of healthcare.
I liked looking at how various decisions in government, finance, and insurance affected the way PT’s perform their jobs. I liked problem-solving the issues we encountered, such as cuts in reimbursement, and make it work so that the patients still received quality care, and the PT’s continued to be happy with their jobs. This was when I decided to pursue healthcare administration as the next step in my career. The experiences I have had showed me that I would enjoy being in management because it provides me with the right mental stimulation to sustain my interest throughout the remainder of my working years.
Now, the argument can be made regarding other options in my professional field. Why MBA? Why not an MS in Physical Therapy? Why not advanced certification in various fields of interest within my chosen field? I have attempted to get a Master’s degree in PT. I figured out that having an MSPT will not get me any further in my profession compared to someone with a Bachelor’s degree. My salary would have been the same; my chances for any kind of promotion would have been the same. Thus, the return on investment of going back to school was very low.
Just prior to the start of MBA 521, a friend questioned the wisdom of getting an MBA. I had mentioned that I wanted to go into Healthcare Management after I am through with the core courses. He mentioned a master’s program here at Texas Tech University called Clinical Practice Management. Basically, it is an MBA program geared toward clinicians wanting to go into healthcare management. I apparently fit the profile of a typically student in that program. The tuition is cheaper and I will have graduated earlier since this program only requires 36 credits, instead of 36 + 15. I thought about this for about two days.
I weighed my options based on the long term outlook of an MBA in Healthcare Management versus a degree in Clinical Practice Management. I decided to stay with my original decision of getting an MBA. I feel that an MBA will open more doors for me because this degree is universally recognizable. Clinical Practice Management, I feel, is relatively unknown. It seems to me that I would have to explain to a potential employer what this degree is all about, whereas an MBA is immediately recognized. Because I have made a decision about the direction of my career, I defined what would get me closer to my goal.
I intend to get into healthcare management, because I liked what I have done as a manager. I have had the opportunity to delve into various decision-making situations and problem-solving modes, and I have come out of them wiser and better suited for the next managerial opportunity. Other degree choices will not work for me because they will not get me closer to my goal. The Jungian Personality Test showed me that I have the right personality to be a manager. I believe that getting an MBA to support my work experience will get me further in my chosen career path.