MBA provides business skill set for medical school student

Growing up in Gilgil, Kenya, Yvonne Kamau watched her father address a wide range of health issues as a pharmacist.

“I think from then, I remember very clearly knowing that I wanted to be able to help people,” Kamau said.

That goal led her to pursue a Doctor of Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center along with a degree she didn’t expect: an MBA.

The KU Schools of Medicine and Business offer a joint degree program that allows students to earn both degrees in five years. Medical school students are not required to take the GMAT, and they receive a $10,000 scholarship. Ideally, students enter the MBA program before they begin their first year or between years two and three.

Kamau took the latter route and finished the coursework for her MBA this spring. Both degrees will be conferred after she completes medical school.

Her decision to tackle the dual degrees started with My Afrika My Voice, a project she created shortly after receiving bachelor’s degrees in microbiology and international studies from KU. Through the project, Kamau speaks to kids in Gilgil about the issues worrying them and how those issues­­­­­­ could be addressed to create a healthier community.

Her work introduced her to the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, a network of young African entrepreneurs.

“I got to see people who were not just at the idea stages of how they wanted to leave a legacy, but they were in the trenches working to improve lives,” Kamau said.

Many of those people had backgrounds in business, she noticed. After starting medical school, Kamau decided to pursue a joint MBA/MD.

“You realize that in order to address issues at the community level, it takes a more interdisciplinary approach,” she said.

The business knowledge Kamau has developed through the MBA program helps her examine how to more effectively address the issues patients face beyond health care, she said. That perspective is important when you’re trying to build something sustainable, whether it’s a medical practice or a community organization.

“I really feel like I have a renewed vision,” she said.

For more information about KU’s MBA/MD degree or other joint degree programs, please contact Jinae Krieshok at

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