All too often, doctors are caught in the crossfire between medicine and economics (more specifically, hospital management); between healing patients, and the need to think and act commercially. Only after finishing my medical training did I realise the importance of business administration expertise, especially for those working as senior managers in hospitals. You need more than exclusively technical skills to successfully manage a department or clinic.
I enrolled in Frankfurt School’s MBA in International Healthcare Management programme to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the healthcare system. The course gave me all the management skills I lacked, including in particular a much more detailed knowledge and appreciation of accounting and controlling. It was precisely this knowledge of financial fundamentals and investments that enabled me to draw up and successfully implement a comprehensive business plan for the creation of an Interventional Radiology department at a major hospital – a clinic I have now been running as head physician since 2017. Despite being a medical doctor, I was able to interact on equal terms with hospital stakeholders such as the senior management team without losing sight of the other viewpoints involved, including those of the hospital, department and patients.
What I learned during the MBA programme’s “Controlling” module was especially useful while I was setting up and integrating the new department. As a head of department, you need sufficient business administration expertise to be able to form your own overview. This is clearly reflected in the results of several external assessments of the department. At present, no other hospital has a comparable independent Interventional Radiology department with its own beds for patients, meaning that it is not easy to assess using standardised performance indicators.
Knowledge gives you confidence. This fact, coupled with my clinic’s results, is what encouraged me to become involved in Frankfurt School’s Leadership & Management for Senior Hospital Physicians certification course, where I share my thoughts on best practice. Thanks to the lecturers’ mix of business administration expertise and medical backgrounds, the programme is directly relevant to real-world scenarios. It focuses on precisely those areas which medical doctors need to know about if they want to work successfully in managerial positions. It is important to think through medical decisions in advance from both a medical and a commercial perspective, so you can marshal your arguments and refine your dealings with hospital management as appropriate.
By sharing best practice, I can pass on my experience and personal strategies to colleagues, and by doing so, support their plans and projects. Inevitably, this sharing involves talking about much more than the various milestones I have achieved. It also involves discussing mistakes, how best to avoid them, and how to improve one’s handling of specific situations. The programme participants all have similar careers and backgrounds; they are united by their professional determination to bring about and implement change. When discussing the various issues with peers on equal terms, in a safe space, I can encourage them to tackle these things.