Why Doctors Should Go to Business School

May 29, 2014
by Marci Bothwell

What is a girl surgeon doing going to B school?  Haven’t I done enough?  Haven’t I occupied my time on earth well yet?  I think my answer is yes and no.  I treasure the individual connections I have with patients and families.  The privilege of entering family’s lives unfiltered cannot be overappreciated. Just this past week, I was making a last phone call to a mom and she said how appreciative she was with our personal connection uniting the care of her most valuable possession, her child. Who wouldn’t just say “Wow” to that and feel like she’s done enough?

But I can’t help thinking that I could help more children and families by learning the skill set that would enable me to make sound policy decisions.  I keep coming back to this, with regard to going to business school.  The combination of knowing how to treat patients individually but then learning how to enable others to do a great job as well is why I am at the Rady School of Management.  It’s a rare individual who does not need training to be a good manager (or, more likely, they are fooling themselves and others).  And even this rare individual would benefit from more experienced perceptions and training more than passively reading even a great business book.  My knowledge base and expertise has expanded into the world of finance, operations and marketing only thru active participation in class and in groups at the Rady School. 

Now in my second year, a fellow student and I have used our newly learned basic skill set to creatively build a proposal for the new Diabetes Center at UCSD. It is hands on experience, guided by an excellent professor, Terry August, that will enable us as students to succeed. The use of all our acquired skills was required, and in amalgamation, we now have a truly remarkable finished product to present to decision makers.

My goal in completing this MBA program is to find a complimentary arrangement between helping the individual and the many.  There are various possible avenues for me to travel, including hospital management, a new start up in the health field, or even government.  The point is, the more skills you have, the more you can become the decision maker.   My options are now more open – just like in finance class – ROV is where it’s at today.



Marcella Bothwell, MD, FAAP, MBA Candidate 2014 is a Clinical Professor, UCSD Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology and Chair of the Pediatric Airway and Aero-Digestive Team at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.