Graduate Business Program for Physicians Stays in High Demand

Dr. John F. McCracken

Dr. John F. McCracken

The Alliance for Medical Management Education, the partnership program between UT Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management and UT Southwestern Medical Center, offers a graduate business program for physicians so popular it has a two-year waiting list. 

“It’s a problem, yes. We have a real challenge accommodating the demand for the program,” said Dr. John F. McCracken, the Jindal School clinical professor who established the alliance in 1997 and has headed it ever since. 

McCracken said 63 doctors are waiting to begin the curriculum, and more applications are arriving every week. The program offers a master’s degree in healthcare management and an executive MBA in healthcare management

Open to U.S.-licensed medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine, the program appeals to physicians in part because the curriculum is designed to accommodate busy clinical schedules. Each class runs four days on an every-other-month schedule, with six courses offered per year. 

“I chose AMME after reviewing several other programs, both local and national. I spoke to one graduate of the program and two others that were currently enrolled, and became convinced that the AMME content was equal to or better than the other programs I’d considered,” said Dr. Ronald Jensen, chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs at Baylor Regional Medical Center in Grapevine. 

“Furthermore, I liked the schedule, the format and the background of the instructors. Finally, I was happy that an MBA option was available.” 

AMME Program

The program is specifically designed to accommodate physicians’ busy schedules and may be started at any time. Classes can be taken in any order, and tuition is paid one class at a time. 

Classes are jointly taught by senior management and medical school faculty and a select group of experienced physician executives in an interactive setting that encourages sharing and collaboration.

Physicians have the opportunity to earn two levels of recognition:

Master of Science in Healthcare Management: Requires the completion of the nine classes of the health care management curriculum or any eight classes plus a self-directed field study.

Healthcare Management Executive MBA: Requires the completion of the nine classes of the health care management curriculum plus an additional six online general business classes.

Each AMME cohort includes four to eight doctors, and the program counts more than 350 current students and alumni, according to McCracken. 

“Doctors from 31 states have either entered or are waiting to enter the program,” he said. 

Dr. Joseph Forbess, chairman of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s Medical Center, waited a little more than a year to begin classes. 

“I researched the health care executive MBA world, and this is clearly one of the most highly regarded ones around,” he said. “The wait list is proof of that. I feel quite lucky that it is here in Dallas, where I live. I have classmates that undertake significant travel to get here for the AMME program.” 

Dr. Michael N. Sills, a cardiologist and partner in the Dallas-based Cardiology Consultants of Texas and vice president of informatics and technology for the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance, also waited a year. He and Forbess shared similar reasons for signing up. 

“I recognized that if I was to develop a new skill set to allow me to better interact with hospital administration, it would require more than a traditional medical education,” he said. “If the next phase of health care is to take place, it needs to include engaged physicians. If we are unable to communicate in a common language, then physicians will be left out of the process. We need to learn leadership skills so that we are a part of the evolution.” 

“I am getting more than I ever anticipated out of the program,” Jensen said. “I didn’t enroll so that I could get a better job. I enrolled so that I could get better at my current job. From improved negotiation skills to coaching and leadership and hospital finance, the AMME content has greatly broadened my understanding of the administrative side of health care, and I’m absolutely convinced that I’m a better CMO because of these classes.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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