OCTOBER 7, 2004
Dual degree helps Medical School graduates take on business world
He’s been called an all-star, the best of the best. When it comes to assessing emerging drugs and biotechnologies, few physicians can top Lindsay Rosenwald. He’s definitely the specialist to see if your hedge fund is ailing.
But if your health is at issue, you’ll have to go elsewhere, because even though this highly successful venture capitalist has a medical degree, he doesn’t practice medicine.
Rosenwald is chairman, CEO and founder of the Paramount Capital group of companies. With offices on three continents, Paramount specializes in asset management, investment banking, venture capital and direct investing in the biotechnology and life-sciences industries.
“I manage investor assets through domestic and offshore hedge funds as well as private equity,” Rosenwald said, “and conduct private placement offerings for development-stage biotechs — or take controlling interest in start-ups and turnarounds, both private and public.”
For some alumni, the transition from exam room to boardroom followed an unforeseen progression. But not in Rosenwald’s case. It was all part of a plan. He majored in finance and economics as an undergraduate.
“While in medical school, I never let my Wall Street Journal subscription lapse,” he said.
Rosenwald isn’t the only School of Medicine graduate who is a major player in the world of business and finance. Many other Medical School alumni work for big corporations, and others for themselves. Most of their businesses are related to medicine, but others have ventured into nonmedical zones.
“Once upon a time, people went to medical school because they wanted to practice medicine, conduct research or teach,” said John M. Daly, dean of the School of Medicine. “But applicants’ motivations run a much wider gamut these days. We don’t seek out M.D. degree candidates who intend not to practice medicine, but we absolutely do expect more of our graduates to embark on nontraditional careers — and even ‘traditional’ careers aren’t what they used to be,” he said.
Alexander M. Hamling, who will graduate with the School of Medicine’s class of 2006, knows exactly what Daly means. He and the seven other candidates in Temple’s five-year dual-degree M.D.-M.B.A. program are doing all they can to prepare for the realities of medicine as a business. Temple’s “regular” Medical School curriculum also incorporates more business-related material than it did in the old days.
“No one believes adages like ‘take care of the patients and the bills will take of themselves’ anymore,” said Hamling, explaining that today’s medical students recognize that without a business setting, there is no clinical setting, that it takes more than just good doctoring to run a successful practice.
A decade ago, M.D.-M.B.A. programs didn’t even exist. So when the golden age of medicine started tarnishing, there were thousands of alumni out there who had to learn “the hard way.” And many learned their lessons well, becoming highly successful in business and in medicine.
Medical practices are businesses — and some contain opportunity for profit no one would have considered in the past. For example, who says you have to send a patient to the hospital for an MRI exam if you can invest in one yourself? Or consider the fact that most of the 4,000 ambulatory surgery centers in the United States are owned by physicians.
Apart from — or instead of — their own practices, some entrepreneurial alumni go into businesses that solve business or clinical problems for other physicians or scientists. Some forge out their own business niches, others form partnerships with investors or corporations seeking new business, and others still seek full- or part-time employment in industries such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
In business and industry as well as in medicine, one factor is key: critical thinking. Critical thinking skills will take you far in any direction you choose, said Calvin Johnson, the state secretary of health and clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Temple, during his keynote address at the Medical School’s commencement in May.
“The skills and abilities you developed at Temple will serve you well wherever you apply them, wherever you want to go,” Johnson said.
Originally published in Temple Medicine.