There is a reason physicians looking to hone vital business leadership skills frequently turn to USC Marshall’s Master of Medical Management (MMM).

“It opens a different way of thinking with different vocabulary,” said David Skaggs, MD, MMM, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “The payoff is simple: With a business degree, your peers are more willing to listen to your ideas, and you’re much more likely to get things done.”

Skaggs, a 2006 graduate of the MMM program, is not alone in his enthusiasm for the degree. Increasingly, doctors at every level of their career are choosing USC Marshall as a central destination for cutting-edge graduate education that complements their extensive medical training.

One case in point: Andrea Wu, MD, director of the Adult Emergency Department Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, says the MMM — which she completed in 2013 — was critical to her rapid professional advancement. “During my residency, I did a lot of administrative work, and I learned quickly that I wanted to be the person bridging the gap between people working clinically on the front line and hospital administration. The MMM helped me do that; without it, getting my current position would have taken me at least 10 to 15 years.”

Created specifically for physicians, the MMM combines key learning from traditional MBA and public health degrees, but focuses on entrepreneurial thinking within a health care context to prepare doctors as change agents in the field. Its custom design, Skaggs noted, goes beyond just the curriculum.

“Over the course of four, one-week sessions held throughout the year, I was able to engage fully with the program while taking a very brief break from other responsibilities,” he said. “Given the scheduling challenges I face as a physician, the MMM was much more manageable than an executive MBA.”

Fred Weaver, MD, MMM, professor of surgery and chief of the vascular surgery division at the Keck School, agrees. “The four ‘in residence’ weeks of the MMM were a phenomenal experience, and they flew by,” he said. For Weaver, the program was an opportunity to see his work through a different lens. “I thought it would be an ideal degree to help me understand the principles of management, people and finances in the context of running a division. And it’s been borne out: The MMM definitely helped me look at a balance sheet, understand accounting and appreciate how hospitals look at budgets in determining the allocation of resources.”

The program offered Weaver another crucial insight, as well. “The MMM really helped me wrap my head around the meaning of ‘value,’ ” he said. “It’s easy to understand when we’re taking care of a patient, but I don’t think doctors have a solid grasp of our value to our organizations and to the people around us — something I find increasingly important now with changes in Medicare reimbursement. Every physician needs to know how to quantify his or her value, and this degree taught me how to do it.”

To learn more about the USC Marshall MMM program, click here.

— Maeleine Mira