How and why medically-trained managers undertake postgraduate management training: A qualitative study from Victoria, Australia

Erwin Loh (Monash Health, Clayton, Australia and Monash University, Clayton, Australia and Australian Institute of Business, Adelaide, Australia)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Publication date: 15 June 2015



The purpose of this paper is to address the research question using qualitative research methods: how and why medically trained managers choose to undertake postgraduate management training?


This research used two qualitative methods to gather data. Both methods used purposeful sampling to select interviewees with appropriate management expertise, qualifications and experience. The first stage utilised convergent interviews and was exploratory. The five interviewees were managers and academics. The second stage used case research methodology and was confirmatory. The fifteen interviewees were medically qualified chief executives and chief medical officers. In total, 20 in-depth interviews were carried. Rigorous content analysis of data collected showed emergent themes.


The first theme that emerged was that doctors move into management positions without first undertaking training. The second theme was that doctors undertake such training in the form of a masters-level degree and/or a specialist fellowship. The third theme was that effective postgraduate management training for doctors requires a combination of theory and practice. The fourth theme was that clinical experience alone does not lead to required management competencies. The fifth theme was that doctors choose to undertake training to gain credibility.

Research limitations/implications

This research was exploratory and descriptive in nature and limited to analytical rather than statistical generalisation.


This research has provided insights into the importance of understanding how and why doctors undertake postgraduate management training, and may assist policy makers and training providers in the development of such training for doctors.



The author acknowledges the senior health and medical executives who participated in the interviews that formed part of this research.


Loh, E. (2015), "How and why medically-trained managers undertake postgraduate management training: A qualitative study from Victoria, Australia", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 438-454.

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