University of Houston Plans MBA Program for Doctors

Article excerpt

HOUSTON _ Many doctors are feeling confused and powerless as hospitals merge at a dizzying pace and new health maintenance organizations flock into the market.

To help these physicians prepare for this market-driven health care system, the University of Houston-Clear Lake plans to create a master of business administration program strictly for physicians.

This program, which will start in September, is only the second such program for doctors in the United States. The other program is at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Meanwhile, University of Houston already has begun taking applications for shorter certificate programs that would train doctors in the essentials of business administration or the managed care business. These programs are scheduled to begin in February.

Business administration "is an important thing that physicians need to be engaging in," because of the growth of managed care, said Dr. Paul Handel, a Houston urologist. Handel is considering applying for the MBA program.

Doctors see managed care _ health care provided through health maintenance organizations and other health insurance plans that contract with exclusive networks of doctors and hospitals _ as a key to their future, and the future of medicine.

"Physicians need to be actively involved in managed care companies to make sure that access and quality of medical care are preserved," Handel said. "If we are going to be in this milieu, we want to have some degree of control over it."

Kevin C. Wooten, University of Houston assistant professor of management and human resources, said, "Physicians want to manage their own discipline and their own destinies. They feel they have become only technicians."

The MBA program is designed for doctors who have full schedules and want to continue working. It will consist of classes every other weekend on Fridays from noon-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., plus two, two-week and one, one-week block of full-time classes over two years.

The first class will have between 20 and 40 students. "We have a waiting list of people who have already expressed an interest" to enroll, said Dianne Love, associate professor of health care administration.

Handel expects the program to be demanding, but he has been devoting time apart from his practice in recent years to involve himself in the Texas Medical Association and Harris County Medical Society. …