When I was in business school, the idea of continuing ed for MBAs was occasionally bandied about.  It just seemed odd that other professions like law and medicine made ongoing education and improvement a priority while ours didn’t.

Of course, the most obvious response to this is that the competitive nature of the business world makes mandating continuing ed unnecessary for MBAs and other business professionals.  If you’re not constantly learning and adapting, your skills can quickly become outdated — and it’s almost impossible to hide that in a typical business setting.  That’s why companies invest in corporate training and conferences, and why ambitious managers read (or at least skim) all those hot business books and why they network so much more regularly than physicians.  In business, everyone takes charge of their own continuing ed — and if they don’t do so, someone else who is more in step with new ideas will come along and, as the saying goes, eat their lunch.

In medical practices, though, we sometimes find physicians don’t appreciate the need for ongoing business education for their managers.  I’ve personally even encountered physicians who describe their managers as “fully trained.”

Perhaps it’s because continuing education for managers isn’t a regulatory requirement that physicians don’t understand how important it is.  Whatever the reason, if you’re a physician who is not encouraging (and funding) ongoing education for your manager(s), you’re making a mistake.  No field has as much constant change as medicine.  Medical practice managers, billing managers, and other practice business leaders need to not only stay on top of normal business evolution (e.g., technology change, marketing and communications change), they have to keep up with medicine-specific changes (e.g., regulation, research, clinical standards, insurance).

Investing in continuing education for your managers is frankly cheap in comparison to the risk and costs associated with falling behind.  So when your manager asks for budget for a conference, book or online education program, think twice before saying no.  And if your manager never asks for these things, think about whether you’ve unintentionally discouraged a behavior that is essential to your practice’s ongoing productivity and profitability.

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