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When considering an MBA, flexibility was key for this busy doctor

When choosing to start an MBA, Dr Amelia Crabtree was looking for a flexible course where she could build business expertise to advance her career within a hospital organisation.

A doctor’s life is one of competing interests. Time is precious and big decisions must be made in complex, multi-faceted environments.  

So, for Melbourne-based consultant geriatrician Dr Amelia Crabtree the idea of throwing further study into the mix of an already very full life was intimidating.  

Even so, Dr Crabtree had an inkling that an MBA in Healthcare Management might open up new opportunities for her, so in 2017 she returned to study at Deakin University. 

“It was daunting,” she recalls.  “I thought – Oh my god, this is going to take me years.”  

Soon though, Dr Crabtree began to see benefits, and now two years after graduating she is working in the role of Program Director of Aged Care and Rehabilitation Services at Monash Health.   

“In order to advance my career within a hospital organisation, I knew the extra training and skill development would be required,” she said.  

“Accounting and finance for instance are not things you come across regularly in medicine, unless you run your own private business.”  

“In my new role, part of my job is acting as a translator if you like, between the clinical part of the business and the operations part of the business. Having an MBA really helps with that.” 

Dr Crabtree said the benefits also went beyond the technical, with personal “confidence” rating highly too.  

After exploring a number of academic avenues, Dr Crabtree said she chose the Deakin MBA because it offered the most flexible study options.  

“When you’re working at the same time, you’ve got to find ways to make it suit your lifestyle,” she said.  

“The options (at Deakin) were really, really good. There was an opportunity to attend in-person, attend online, to do residentials to cram some extra studies into a weekend. At the time when I was studying, there was also a self-directed unit, so I tried to sample everything.” 

With hindsight, Dr Crabtree said her journey to an MBA actually began with the transition into her consultancy when she was exposed to parts of the healthcare business she hadn’t been privy to before. 

“The things you learn early in your consultancy are how the hospital works, which I don’t think as a junior doctor you necessarily have a great appreciation for,” she said.  

“You’re often allocated to projects to work with other business elements within the organisation. So, for example, I did a couple of IT projects early on in my consultancy career, and it was a way of seeing how you can impact patient care beyond the 1:1 clinical interaction that you have with patients when you’re dealing with them on a personal level. It’s an opportunity to impact care more broadly by using the levers of operations or IT or finance.”  

“Those projects had given me insight into other ways in which I could impact and make a difference.”  

While undergoing a PhD in an area of academic interest was an option, Dr Crabtree said an MBA instinctively felt like a better fit.  

“I seemed to understand the business side of the organisation, and really enjoyed that work alongside different people from varying backgrounds, not just medicine. The MBA was an opportunity to really ground my skills that I’d already begun to pick up randomly.”   

For Dr Crabtree, gaining insights from students working outside of the healthcare industry was a highlight of her studies.  

“The opportunity to interact and learn from other people with completely different backgrounds to my own was my favourite thing in the MBA,” she said.  

“You’re stuck in medical world for a long, long time, and so marketing and accounting and finance, those sorts of things were really interesting, and often you’d have someone in your group who had a background so you could learn from them.”