By James J. Mangraviti, Jr. 

Introduction: Do You Need an MBA for a Non-Clinical Job? 

A common question we are asked is whether or not a physician needs an MBA for a non-clinical job.  Physicians are not provided business training in medical school or residency, so an MBA would certainly help to round out a physician’s knowledge and education.  The problem is that getting an MBA for a physician (or anyone else) is both time consuming (two years) and expensive (up to $120,000 in tuition).   

Do You Need an MBA for a Non-Clinical Job? Most Often You Don’t 

To understand if getting an MBA will facilitate a non-clinical transition, you need to first consider what you would study while earning an MBA.   According to Harvard Business School’s website, the below is what is taught during the first year of students studying for a Harvard MBA: 

Data Science for Manager  

Finance 1  

Financial Reporting and Control  

Leadership & Organizational Behavior  


Technology & Operations Management  

Business, Government, and the International Economy  


The Entrepreneurial Manager  

Finance 2  

Leadership and Corporate Accountability  

FIELD Global Immersion 

Social Purpose of the Firm  

The above are all very useful topics if one is going to be running a business. The problem is that the vast majority of non-clinical jobs for physicians do not involve managing a business.  Most often physicians act as technical experts to assist and support in the operations of a business.  Let’s look at some of the most popular non-clinical roles physicians transition to: 

Utilization Review.  Here physicians review medical charts and determine if a proposed treatment or drug is medically necessary. 

Pharmacovigilance.  Physicians in these non-clinical jobs review medical records of persons participating in clinical trials to determine if an adverse medical event is related to the drug being tested. 

Disability Review.  Reviewing medical charts of disability claimants to look for documentation that the claimant meets the definition of disability in the policy in question. 

Medical Science Liaison.  Interacting with key opinion leaders to educate them about drugs and devices. 

Medical Communication/Writing.  Writing about medicine and medical topics. 

As you can imagine, the above roles have nothing to do with finance, strategy, leadership, marketing or management.  The roles instead are ones where medical skills/knowledge are being sought by the employer, not business skills.  So for these most popular non-clinical jobs for physicians and MBA brings very little to the table – and employers hiring for these roles understand this. 

Do You Need an MBA for a Non-Clinical Job? Where it could really help. 

If you are going into a role where you are managing a business as an executive, an MBA will certainly help.  In fact, if you are able to earn an MBA from a top national MBA program, that MBA could unlock many high powered non-clinical jobs for physicians.  Fields where an MBA could be very helpful to non-clinical physicians include finance, consulting, health system administration, startups, and running your own business.  An MBA would be helpful for these non-clinical roles for physicians because what you would learn in the MBA (finance, marketing, management, etc.) you would actually use in your non-clinical job and that MBA would be valued by employers hiring for these roles. 

Do You Need an MBA for a Non-Clinical Job? Should you get an MBA? 

Ultimately it will be your own decision as to whether or not to pursue an MBA for a non-clinical career transition.  Before doing so, you should think long and hard about the non-clinical roles you would most be interested in transitioning into.  For roles where you act primarily as a subject matter expert in medicine (such as utilization review medical director), what you learn in an MBA program is not going to be overly relevant to your day-to-day tasks.  In other fields such as finance, consulting, health system administration, and running your own business, what you learn in an MBA you will most likely use every day that you are at work.  An MBA, especially if is from a top national program, can also greatly assist your breaking into fields such as finance and consulting. 

James J. Mangraviti, Jr. is the co-founder of SEAK, Inc.’s annual Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians Conference, held each year in Chicago.  SEAK’s Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians Conference features a faculty of dozens of physicians who have experience in non-clinical and alternative careers.  Many of our faculty are SEAK alumni.  SEAK’s Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians conference also includes free 1-1 peer mentoring, the opportunity to interview with employers and recruiters, and a robust networking experience.  Jim can be reached at 508-457-1111 or