Pharmacy Times

PharmD/MBA DEGREE: A PERFECT COMBINATION FOR ME...AND YOU?

Author: T. Joseph Mattingly II

Joseph Mattingly

Joseph Mattingly

Prior to pharmacy school admission, I enrolled in business elective courses to enhance my knowledge of the market and how to run a company. The more I learned about business, the more I realized that I had passion for the field. After considering my options, it became clear that the dual PharmD/MBA degree option offered through the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy and the Gatton College of Business and Economics was the perfect path for me to pursue a career tailored to my interests.

The admission process for the dual program is the same as the admission process to each program individually. Since the pharmacy program has no space for electives in the first professional year, I applied to the MBA program to start that course work during my second year of pharmacy school. The track I selected would allow me to complete both degrees at the same time, but I would have to take the maximum number of credit hours each semester allowed by the university. One major benefit was that my tuition was no different than being enrolled as a full-time pharmacy student.

My typical day consisted of nearly 8 hours of lecture and labs at the College of Pharmacy, followed by night classes at the College of Business and Economics. At first, the task seemed daunting, but I quickly fell into a rhythm that made the schedule feel normal. The best part about the nighttime MBA classes was that I could leave the therapeutics, medicinal chemistry, and kinetics behind and think about topics like balance sheets and interest rates. It was a really nice break from the science-heavy work in pharmacy school.

While the course work is very different, the 2 programs have a way of building on each other. The analytical and methodological thinking developed in pharmacy school helped prepare me for any type of problemsolving situation in the MBA program. The understanding of economic strategies, cost, and quantitative analysis developed in the MBA program enhanced my ability to apply these same concepts to the pharmaceutical industry, as well as patient care, using cost-benefit analysis, and economic outcome measures.

One difference in the 2 programs was the focus on group work in the MBA classes.Many assignments were designed as group projects, where the class would be divided into groups of 5, and individuals were responsible for working together. While pharmacy school has integrated group work throughout the curriculum, individual study and skills still dominate. The MBA program made a stronger effort to develop the team working skills that good managers need.

Comparing the difficulty level of the 2 programs is like comparing apples and oranges. Each program is completely different and driven by different goals for its students. Both programs are designed to teach students completely different ways of thinking. Pharmacy school prepares you to be a competent health care professional devoted to improving patients' lives. The MBA program teaches decision-making skills that prepare you to run any company or organization in this capitalist society.

Being enrolled in both programs at the same time provides the benefit of developing a completely different mind-set than my classmates who are enrolled in only pharmacy or business. Armed with the knowledge of 2 completely different areas, I will be bilingual in a sense. I will be able to speak the language of the pharmacy profession, while also having the ability to stand in front of a board of directors and effectively communicate the language of business. These skills should serve me well, no matter what direction my career eventually takes—community pharmacy, institutional pharmacy, or the pharmaceutical industry.