Should We Teach Students Entrepreneurial Skills in Healthcare?
What does it mean to be an Entrepreneur in Healthcare?
One area that has increasingly caught my attention is the development or implementation of technology into the overall healthcare environment. This is especially the case for those with skills not necessarily inherent to the medical education structure (e.g. coding, engineering, business management). In many aspects, this has helped pushed the role of clinicians in the overall health environment, who are taking their skills and applying what they have seen with their already established knowledge, seeking to integrate the two into their learning and experience.
Be that as it may, there are some trepidations I have had when thinking about expanding or encouraging the entrepreneurial skills for students during the course of their education.
As previously mentioned, developing entrepreneurial skills during the course of a students education will help them creatively incorporate their knowledge and skills into what they are learning about. In many ways, this is a great thing to help push the development of healthcare and the overall practice of medicine. Afterall, these are the future healthcare providers and will inherent the overall environment in the future, why not invest in it now?
This can lead to increased quality improvement and design methods, that may be overlooked by the 'old-blood' that are not 'keeping' up with recent developments. Other considerations of expanding entrepreneurial skills into the education of students would be expanding their career choices outside of traditional roles.
Be that as it may, there are several areas that I think will be major barriers and possible hindrances to expand such an entrepreneurial skills into the curriculum.
Perhaps the biggest, would be that it could detract from the overall education of the student. Afterall, shouldn't I be focusing on developing the most educated pharmacy student for the future, with a focus on clinical knowledge? Should my role as an educator rather encourage research amongst students, to assess and reinforce the skills necessary to understand treatment choices (especially in an era on evidence-based medicine) and the rationale behind it? Time less spent enforcing this knowledge and skills in the classroom could be a big negative on a student.
Another issue is the overall goal of a school creating future healthcare providers and practitioners. If students are encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial skills, and take all they learn and make a business or apply it outside direct patient care, are we losing the battle of addressing the need for more healthcare providers in light of a large population that will have health insurance and getting older and living longer? Not every student can own their own company.
Thoughts on the Matter
In many ways, I think there are many Pros and Cons to the matter. I think that students should have their entrepreneurial skills developed if they have the aptitude. Student groups, clubs, and activities should be developed by faculty to help guide projects that will bring in skills and knowledge of the classroom with a problem faced that they could help with. Some may say a student does not have sufficient clinical knowledge to contribute, but I would argue that it is not necessarily a barrier but a learning experience as well.
Currently, I don't think every student should be a businessman. We should acknowledge why a student wants to pursue their profession, and hopefully it is not necessarily in the pursuit of money. In the end, it could be my own personal feelings on clinicians who develop a product for financial goals over the benefit for a patient, but that would be another discussion.
My own personal experience has led me to believe there are students that can use their 'past lives' (experience prior to healthcare field) to help add new ideas into the medical professions. Whether it be an engineer, philosopher, designer, service industry expert. These skills could find a niche to be developer further.
I would love to hear educators, students, and others feelings on the matter. The discussion needs to be started, especially in regards to implementation and meeting needs of future healthcare providers