Today in the chart

Are You a Nurse That is Interested in Pursuing an MBA?

Here is advice from someone who has been there.

On the first day of my MBA program, a professor asked me why a nurse would get an MBA. That moment confirmed exactly why I was there. Although not a traditional path for a nurse, MBAs are becoming more and more popular amongst healthcare professionals. Pursuing this degree was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After going through the experience, I want to share some advice for those interested in taking the plunge. 

Be Very Intentional About Why You Are Pursuing an MBA

Are you moving up the corporate ladder, or are you looking to become an entrepreneur? There are different MBA programs to choose from, with schools that may focus on the area you are looking to pursue. I stay up-to-date with Poets and Quants, which gives you all the latest details on MBA programs nationwide. I would also ask yourself why you need an MBA. For me, I needed support in subjects such as finance, accounting, and analytics because I knew I wanted to enter entrepreneurship, and I needed to accelerate skills that I did not previously have formal training in. I also chose a general MBA instead of a healthcare focus because I wanted to learn from other industries. My cohort had very diverse backgrounds, from marketing to finance to aerospace. Although, at first glance, you would ask yourself why you need to engage with such industries, I would argue it better prepared me to tackle the healthcare industry's issues. In summary, do your research and do some soul-searching. 

Pick a School with a Good Reputation

The name matters for multiple reasons. First, I set a few "goal schools" and told myself that if I didn't get into them, I wouldn't pursue an MBA. I didn't want to waste my time or money on a school that didn't have recognition, and let's be honest, you don't need an MBA to be successful, so if you decide to go, you might as well make it worthwhile because your time matters. I chose to go to the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, for the reasons I will describe below. Still, the amount of networking and referrals for jobs was worth the price. My first non-bedside job was a remote consulting position for a pharmaceutical company that found me through an alumni association. This job opened my eyes to the opportunities nurses have beyond the bedside. The better the school, the more opportunities you will have post-graduation.

Network, Network, Network

One of the top reasons that I chose to pursue an MBA is networking. I needed to meet people with shared goals and diverse backgrounds so that one day when I was ready to form my own business, I had my Chief Technology Officer, Chief Financial Officer, etc. I was very intentional with this decision and knew exactly what I needed out of my program, and that's why it paid off. Within MBA programs, you meet people with whom you will start a business one day. They serve as a sounding board for me every week. When I am stuck on a problem, I draw on their skill set to help me solve it, which is critical for me and my success. You don't need to know everything; you need to know who to call. Again, if you already have these 'people' and an established network, you may not need an MBA for this. 

If You Can Afford the Time and Financial Commitment, Consider an In-Person MBA

I went to a full-time online MBA program with live classes twice per week in the evenings. There were also lots of opportunities for in-person events, networking, and learning which was important to me. Unfortunately, I had to work during my program, so I didn't have the option to go to an in-person. I was taking 12-15 units per semester and working full-time in the emergency room during the pandemic, and let me tell you, I said goodbye to my personal life for two years. I was on the evening shift and going outside the department to show up to class. There were times I was in PPE on my phone in the ambulance bay, recording content for school. It's funny to think about now, but it seemed like a blur then. If you can take time off to take full advantage of an MBA program, do it. But if you are someone that cannot financially make that commitment, like me, find a happy medium.

An MBA was life-changing for me, but it doesn't have to be your path. Figure out why you actually need it and do your homework. I got plenty of opinions when I decided to take the plunge (both good and bad), so I urge you to consider making a decision that is right for you. Consider your personal and financial commitments because pursuing this degree will be costly and time-consuming. There is no right recipe; the key is to be intentional with your decision. There are multiple freeways to get to the same destination, and the person who will have the best intuition on how to get there is you.

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