January 16, 2015
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Dr. Alexander Vaccaro

Dr. Alexander Vaccaro, a student in the Fox School’s Online MBA program, is the Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Sidney Kimmel Medical Center at Thomas Jefferson University and President of the Rothman Institute. (Photo: Ryan S. Brandenberg)

An orthopedic surgeon and spinal specialist, Alex Vaccaro maintains a tightly organized schedule. He’s the Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Sidney Kimmel Medical Center at Thomas Jefferson University and President of Philadelphia’s Rothman Institute.

He’s also pursuing his Online Master’s of Business Administration through Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

In January, U.S. News & World Report named the Fox Online MBA the No. 1 program in the nation, in its 2015 rankings of the best online graduate business programs. Vaccaro estimates he commits two hours daily to his Fox Online MBA. Often, it’s more.

“I’m being honest when I say this: It’s one of the hardest and one of the most-rewarding things I’ve ever done,” said Vaccaro. “You know what you do for a living. Getting your MBA helps you figure out why you do what you do, and you’re able to do it better.”

Vaccaro is one in a growing number of accomplished medical professionals, with a slew of letters following their surnames, who are supplementing their clinical educations with a business education at the Fox School. As the landscape in American healthcare continues to evolve, medical professionals like Vaccaro are learning that one of the greatest issues in their field is a business-related one.

“Those in medicine who plan to lead need an MBA,” Vaccaro said.

Healthcare spending in the United States reached a record-high $3.7 trillion in 2013, according to a 2012 Deloitte study, titled, “The Hidden Costs of U.S. Healthcare.” And that figure is expected to continue climbing. Physicians equipped to tackle the challenges of operating a medical facility, in relation to both patient treatment and business management, are in high demand. According to a 2009 report in Academic Medicine, trained physicians were running a mere 3 percent of the nation’s more than 6,500 hospitals.

Dr. Maria Chandler, President of the Association of MD/MBA Programs (AMMP), said nearly 70 dual-degree programs exist in the United States. One is housed at the Fox School of Business, through which students pursue the Fox Online MBA. The program, which can be completed in as quickly as 20 months, employs a virtual flipped-classroom model. Students learn content at their leisure through a digital dialogue with peers and professors, before putting into practice what they’ve learned in an integrated, synchronous online classroom.

“Using this format, students come to a virtual class once a week ready to share their professional and personal experiences, and take what they’ve learned to the next level and apply it,” said Dr. Darin Kapanjie, Academic Director of Fox’s Online MBA.

A dual-degree program, according to Chandler, gives students the skills, vocabulary and applicable training to succeed in both arenas following attainment of their degrees.

“I once met a surgeon who was in charge of a $6 billion budget and had absolutely no business training,” she said. “In what other industry would someone be tasked with managing a budget of that size and have no business training? That’s the current state of the healthcare industry.”