The Value of Business Training for Health Care Leaders

September 16, 2021
James Whitfill, MD, chief digital transformation officer, Honor Health

James Whitfill, MD, chief digital transformation officer, Honor Health

When asked in an interview with StartUp Health founders earlier this year if he thought more physicians would pursue business training along with their medical training, Toby Cosgrove, MD, executive advisor and former CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic, said, “Well, I hope so, because health care has become a very big business, and I am delighted to see more physicians be interested in business.”

That idea intrigued us, and when we spotted a recent LinkedIn post from James Whitfill, MD, Honor Health chief digital transformation officer, announcing his enrollment in Wharton’s executive MBA program in San Francisco, we got in touch with him to find out more.

Whitfill has had extensive experience as a clinician, internal medicine faculty member, technologist, and entrepreneur. But, he says, “I felt like the one piece that might be missing is formal business training.” He hopes that the formal education in standard business school subjects like accounting and economics will give him the necessary grounding to “be a better executive within my company.”

As importantly, he sees the value of learning from leaders in other industries. “I think that if we’re going to solve the problems that we have in health care, we have to continue to look outside of health care for inspiration,” he says.

One of the ways medical school differs from business school is that medical school focuses on individual achievement, and in business school, students learn to work together in teams and cohorts. “Medical school doesn’t generally train you well for team-based activity,” Whitfill says. “Some of that is starting to change and some programs are really trying to build in more teamwork, but for the most part, our training is very much on the individual.”

For physicians more accustomed to a command-and-control approach, Whitfill sees the benefits of learning how to work as a group and navigate the challenges when you’re an equal peer and not the group leader.

Read the full article now: Why MDs Get MBAs

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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