Including business education in residency training programs

By James M. Saucedo, MD, MBA, and Lalit Puri, MD, MBA

Many orthopaedic surgeons would agree, at least on an intuitive level, that we, as physicians, should understand the business of our chosen profession, and as a community, we seem to want to understand this perspective. But when does this realization occur? Based on the results of a short survey of Chicago-area residents, residents are already thinking about these issues. (See “Residency training programs need to add business education,AAOS Now, August 2011.)

Although there is no substitute for “real world experience,” the earlier in their careers that physicians are exposed to the economic realities and management dimensions of the medical profession, the more effectively they can navigate those waters. According to Joel I. Shalowitz, MD, MBA, FACP, of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, “The opportunity costs at this stage (residency) remain reasonably low and an advantage of delivering business education during residency is that management skills are acquired closer to the time of application.” In other words, exposing residents to business skills is not premature, and such knowledge may help ease the transition from physicians-in-training to physicians-in-practice.

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