Leaving medicine for MBA, PE

Some background: I attended a mid-tier private undergraduate and graduated with a GPA between 3.92-3.96 in chemistry. I currently attend a top 25 medical school and will be starting my fourth year of medical school soon. I considered leaving after my first year of medical school but was instructed it may be wiser to at least graduate. I am now approaching graduation but I just cannot see myself pursuing residency. Some are instructing me to just finish residency and then pursue the MBA, but I'm not sure I can really do this.  My goal would be to ultimately work in PEand it is my understanding that one should aim for HSW or M7 programs more broadly for the best chances. I also received a half-scholarship so I do not have exorbitant student loans. I am seeking some advice on my current situation. 

Comments (17)

  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
May 1, 2022 - 3:10pm

If you are trying to do healthcare related PE, there are a larger number of former MDs at firms so would reach out to them as they will give better advice than here. 

Your best bet is likely to do finish med school and go straight to MBB (maybe an MBA after MBB) and then PE.  

May 1, 2022 - 3:21pm
oncetr3vc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It appears that McKinsey's "Physician Consultant" program requires at least 3 years of full-time clinical experience, which would mean that a medical school graduate with no residency could not apply. What are your thoughts on applying to MBA programs straight from graduation? Do HSW and others tend to require relevant work experience? Thanks

  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
May 1, 2022 - 3:48pm
oncetr3vc

It appears that McKinsey's "Physician Consultant" program requires at least 3 years of full-time clinical experience, which would mean that a medical school graduate with no residency could not apply. What are your thoughts on applying to MBA programs straight from graduation? Do HSW and others tend to require relevant work experience? Thanks

Look up Mckinsey Advanced Degree candidates which MDs without experience qualify for.   

For questions, I'd suggest reaching out to MDs at funds as mentioned, but I wouldn't think that profile will be super competitive for HSW especially as you would be competing with candidates who go to those school's med schools.  

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
May 1, 2022 - 5:08pm

It is very hard to get into PE post-MBA without PE experience pre-MBA. Aiming at healthcare groups may help, but still not sure how receptive they would be given no residency/doctoral experience. If you're open to IB, their healthcare groups might be interested post-MBA, and you could eventually move from there.

HSW, and even M7, will also generally want some work experience - while your undergrad and completing med school is impressive, you will be up against practicing doctors with several years work experience. Unfortunately you're kind of in a no mans land of having 4 years of very valuable education, but it is only valued by the finance world once you have completed your residency.

One option is to see if there are any healthcare-focused boutiques that will take you on as an analyst. Either climb that latter or get 2-3 years work experience and use MBA to jump to a bigger firm.

May 1, 2022 - 6:45pm
dafftt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you leave without residency, you won't be a licensed MD. That totally undermines the last four years and pretty much reduces your attractiveness to some firms. If you do want to throw that away, I don't see any significant gain since you cannot easily transition into well paid banking gigs without being a fresh UG or MBA grad. But you can't get into a decent MBA without prior full time work experience. You also could consider programs that offer joint MD - MBA degrees.

As others have said, it is better you network with MD bankers to get a better idea on your options. There is an interventional radiologist on this thread. Perhaps you can PM them.

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/investment-banking/i-am-losing-faith-in-meritocracy

  • VP in PE - LBOs
May 1, 2022 - 8:45pm

Used to do Healthcare PE with former MD who went back for an MBA. It's not super common, but it does happen. 
Sometimes MDs are valued on the biotech side, but depends pretty heavily on your expertise. There's a lot of value in LMM healthcare rollups where you interact with physicians regularly. Doctors like to feel like they're talking to someone who "gets it" and not just the finance guys who see dollar signs instead of patients. This is probably somewhat diminished if you never practice, but it's a nice signaling tool.

Biggest issue for me is getting people to give you that first chance over someone with more applicable experience. A lot of the JD/MD -> Finance profiles give off a vibe of "pursues high income careers but was [bored of / burnt out on / bad at] [law, medicine, etc.). Consulting, banking, or equity research are probably easier moves than PE without pre-MBA experience, but I imagine some LMM firms will be open to a conversation

  • Business School in CorpStrat
May 1, 2022 - 9:15pm

100% agree with this. Know some doctors who went into PE but all of them were practicing physicians for at least 5+ years. One of them is doing very well in LMM and has an executive M7 MBA.

All these docs are rich af too (easily have net worths of $10M and were all ex-founders of a 9 figure HC service company PE-buyout). Even seen a doc develop a strong reputation in growth financing roles at a few companies (focusing largely on organic growth, aka a lot of sourcing out new locations etc). Believe he became CEO of a growth company recently within healthcare but a completely different field of practice.

  • VP in PE - LBOs
May 1, 2022 - 9:15pm

What about starting in an analyst role in PE? Would be a little "beneath you" in terms of your degree (your peers would be straight out of undergrad) but you'd be able to skip getting another advanced degree (career track or lateral w/o MBA) and possibly move up quicker given your background. 

  • Business School in CorpStrat
May 1, 2022 - 9:32pm

OP: the best option would be, "Some are instructing me to just finish residency and then pursue the MBA, but I'm not sure I can really do this." I would even say a few years as an attending can help too.

Biotech is brutally competitive to succeed in and Orbimed's public market investments is proof that top MDs can't predict the market always (abysmal returns as of late according to a WSJ article a month or two back). However, in private equity - physician-run high growth healthcare companies can sell for $100s of millions and I personally work with founding MDs who made enough money to retire once the company had a leveraged buyout (some actually did retire and ended up pursuing PE with ex-bankers/PE professionals they worked with during their buyout). Only one of these docs has an Ivy degree (and it was an undergrad degree) - so degree prestige doesn't really matter if you're a licensed physician in the business world. The most common way to get into LMM PE focusing on non-biotech HC investments as a MD is this route.

May 1, 2022 - 10:26pm
dutchduke, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do an easier residency like psych in a cool city and bang out nurses for 3 years then go get an mba. Wallstreet sucks just as bad so enjoy yourself now. 

  • Business School in CorpStrat
May 1, 2022 - 10:44pm

Psych is 4 years total of training.

May 1, 2022 - 11:01pm
bradyvvv1234, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hypothetically speaking, would working 2 years at a top EB/BB in a HC group BEFORE going back to Med school give you a leg up in recruiting for HC shops at top PE (BX,KKR) or places like OrbiMed? Was curious bc many managing directors at BX have MDs, so there must be a benefit in using it to get to partner level right? Ik there's a whole discussion about whether getting the MD would even be worth it at that point, but just curious if it would be helpful (outside of the opportunity cost)

Most Helpful
May 1, 2022 - 11:46pm
mrharveyspecter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have an odd story and I don't fully understand the motivation. If you had a sense that you never wanted to practice medicine, then why spend the time and effort getting the degree, especially if you could have opted out year 1? Beyond that, I'd ask why do you want to do PE and do you really know what PE entails? Why not banking or consulting? Plenty of folks read the headline job description for PE and decide it sounds sexy, but few ultimately make it or want to work in it long term. It sounds to me like you need to do a little more research and some soul searching before deciding on a path forward.

With that said, if you are going to make the switch into business, I would be realistic with what's achievable. Right off the bat, I can tell you that getting into PE won't be quick or easy. If you'd really wanted to do PE, you would have left medical school and started as an investment banking analyst or consultant after dropping out of medical school.

You're what 25/26 now? The fastest and easiest path into a PE career now would basically be to start at the bottom. Finish medical school and start hustling/networking for a banking analyst role or MBB consulting gig. Think about your story and talk about how you're not ready for an MBA and want to leverage what you saw/did in medical school to business and the best place to do that is at xyz firm. Do a couple of years of banking/consulting and then get into PE. From there you do a couple of years and you can either go back for an MBA around 30 or you'll be doing well enough to continue on in PE.

Going to get an MBA now isn't an awful idea, your story will stand out, and depending on your medical school experience you'd probably get into an M7. The problem is you'll basically have 0 work experience when applying for your first job. Banks and Consulting firms will take you on as you're smart, will have an M7 MBA and an MD, and they'll take the time to train you. Almost all PE firms will turn you down, regardless of what school you go to. It's very tough to break into Post-MBA PE without prior PE experience, much less 0 work experience in general. Maybe if you grind for two years at an in year internship during your MBA you might have a chance, but even then, the odds are long. Plus, getting an MBA with no work experience is generally not a great idea. You're just not going to get as much out of the experience.

My advice to you is to go and work for a couple of years. Make some money and get some real experience. You're not that old and it sounds like your debt is minimal. After 2 years you can decide if you want to do PE or you just use the MBA to pivot into something else. 

  • Business School in CorpStrat
May 2, 2022 - 8:35am

+1 to this.

Also OP, do you by chance go to a med school with a strong MBA program attached to it (T10-T25 ish ranking)? I have seen one MD/MBA who never did an internship year and ended up at GS HC for IB. Not sure where they are now but that can be an option. I don't think the banker I once saw on LinkedIn that accomplished this had any work experience before grad school.

Edit: Oh wow, he did end up landing a buyside role post IB - Life Science VC. Ivy league MD/MBA

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 2, 2022 - 7:24pm

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