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

Pharmacy Careers, Volume 0, 0

Mr. Mattingly is a third-year professional student in the PharmD Program at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy and is dually enrolled in the MBA Program at the Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Joseph Mattingly

Prior to pharmacy school admission, I enrolled in businesselective courses to enhance myknowledge of the market and how torun a company. The more I learnedabout business, the more I realizedthat I had passion for the field. Afterconsidering my options, it becameclear that the dual PharmD/MBAdegree option offered through theUniversity of Kentucky College ofPharmacy and the Gatton College ofBusiness and Economics was the perfectpath for me to pursue a careertailored to my interests.

The admissionprocess for the dualprogram is the sameas the admissionprocess to each programindividually.Since the pharmacyprogram has nospace for electives inthe first professionalyear, I applied to the MBA programto start that course work during mysecond year of pharmacy school. Thetrack I selected would allow me tocomplete both degrees at the sametime, but I would have to take themaximum number of credit hourseach semester allowed by the university.One major benefit was that mytuition was no different than beingenrolled as a full-time pharmacystudent.

My typical day consisted of nearly8 hours of lecture and labs at the Collegeof Pharmacy, followed by nightclasses at the College of Business andEconomics. At first, the task seemeddaunting, but I quickly fell into arhythm that made the schedule feelnormal. The best part about thenighttime MBA classes was that Icould leave the therapeutics, medicinalchemistry, and kinetics behindand think about topics like balancesheets and interest rates. It was a reallynice break from the science-heavywork in pharmacy school.

While the course work is very different,the 2 programs have a way ofbuilding on each other. The analyticaland methodological thinking developedin pharmacy school helped prepareme for any type of problemsolvingsituation in the MBAprogram. The understanding of economicstrategies, cost, and quantitativeanalysis developed in the MBAprogram enhanced my ability toapply these same concepts to thepharmaceutical industry, as well aspatient care, using cost-benefit analysis,and economic outcome measures.

One difference in the 2 programswas the focus on group work in theMBA classes.Many assignments weredesigned as group projects, where theclass would be divided into groups of5, and individuals were responsiblefor working together. While pharmacyschool has integrated group workthroughout the curriculum, individualstudy and skills still dominate.The MBA program made a strongereffort to develop the team workingskills that good managers need.

Comparing the difficulty level ofthe 2 programs is like comparing applesand oranges. Each program iscompletely different and driven bydifferent goals for its students. Bothprograms are designed to teach studentscompletely different ways ofthinking. Pharmacy school preparesyou to be a competent health careprofessional devoted to improvingpatients' lives. The MBA programteaches decision-making skills thatprepare you to run any company ororganization in this capitalist society.

Being enrolled in both programs atthe same time provides the benefitof developing a completely differentmind-set than my classmates who areenrolled in only pharmacy or business.Armed with the knowledge of2 completely different areas, I will bebilingual in a sense. I will be able tospeak the language of the pharmacyprofession, while also having the abilityto stand in front of a board ofdirectors and effectively communicatethe language of business. Theseskills should serve me well, no matterwhat direction my career eventuallytakes—community pharmacy, institutionalpharmacy, or the pharmaceuticalindustry.