Medical knowledge is only one piece of a successful health care practice — in order to thrive, today’s top students are choosing to marry their medical background with a master’s degree in business administration.
Patrick Young is one of the first students to graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Doctor of Dental Medicine/MBA dual degree program, an interdisciplinary partnership between UAB’s School of Dentistry and Collat School of Business. As part of the inaugural graduating cohort, Young will combine his passion for dentistry with business tools necessary to navigate the health care system efficiently and effectively.
In his final semester as a dental student, Young has worked with patients in UAB’s student dental clinic, offering comprehensive care for cleanings, dentures, crowns and more. As part of the dental curriculum, he evaluates all aspects of patient health with supervision from trained faculty.
Young says he realized he should pursue an MBA when he found himself lost talking with classmates and friends.
“I had a lot of friends with business backgrounds, and I realized I didn’t know a lot of what they were talking about,” Young said. He began researching DMD/MBA programs and found a home at UAB.
A native of John’s Creek, Georgia, Young chose UAB for its online flexibility, proximity to extended family in Alabama and cost-effectiveness compared to other nationwide programs. He says he finds structure in the rigorous blended curriculum of the DMD/MBA dual degree, which is just one of several dual MBA degrees offered for health care professionals at UAB.
At only 26, he is no stranger to hard work: Young is founder and president of the UAB Dental Business Club, while maintaining a didactic GPA of 4.00 in his classes. In his nearly two years as president, Young formed a partnership with the Collat School of Business, providing dental students key access to mentoring from business professors. Young also serves as class representative for the UAB School of Dentistry Curriculum Committee and peer mentor for the UAB School of Dentistry Office of Academic Affairs.
Young wants to own his own private practice one day, he says.
“My goal is to buy out my family dentist when he retires,” he said. “But before I do that, I’ll work as an associate for two to five years at the practice, building a client base and retaining current clients.”
In order to do that, he’ll need to know how to negotiate business plans and create a roadmap for continued financial success — crucial information he is learning in his blended MBA classes.
“I learned early in the MBA program that running a successful health care practice is a team effort,” Young said. “I can’t do this by myself.”
In his classes, he has learned how to understand, and speak, the language of business.
“You’re taught how to look for the good people and how to recruit them,” Young said.
Set to graduate from UAB this May, Young is scheduled to start his orthodontics residency in July.
It has been difficult juggling business classes with a rigorous dental curriculum (with classes sometimes overlapping or beginning only weeks after each other), but Young says it is completely worth it. Unlike others in his cohort, he will bring with him the business knowledge he wished he had known at the beginning of his graduate studies.
“Overall, you get out what you put in,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know about this [degree]. The dual degree is worth it.”