Why would a practicing doctor with an M.D. and a Ph.D. return to school at age 67? Ask Dr. Dennis Maiman, and he’ll highlight a few compelling reasons.
“There’s something to be said for being a lifelong learner. It is intellectually invigorating, and there’s a lot of data that shows the benefits of learning something new,” he said.
“I have other academic activities. I’m on national boards for scientific organizations, but this is something very different, and it opens up a whole new world. Learning is fun.”
Generally taking one course per session, Dr. Maiman is on track to graduate in the fall of 2021 with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in General Management online from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (UW-Parkside).
The MBA will cap his educational journey in Wisconsin, as he also has degrees from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (B.S.), Medical College of Wisconsin (M.D.) and Marquette University (Ph.D. in biomedical engineering).
“I’ve been in leadership my entire career,” he said. “I’ve done program development and I’ve done budgets, but I’ve done it blindly. I never had the proper training. I wish I would have gotten my MBA sooner.”
Dr. Maiman always knew he wanted to be a doctor. He started his engineering graduate degree during his last year of neurosurgery residency.
“While I was a faculty member in neurosurgery, building a practice, doing research, I was going to graduate school for a Ph.D. Very, very challenging. That was rough, and I was married with three kids.”
But Dr. Maiman is not one to shy away from difficult situations. In the UW-Parkside MBA program, he has specifically learned about the ways medicine and business overlap, which has been helpful in his own career.
“For physicians, an MBA program provides a rational basis for understanding not only management skills, but people management, too, because that’s not intuitive,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about management relationships and the business side of medicine, even though the MBA program doesn’t focus on medicine. I’ve learned how to forecast. I’ve learned a lot about product stream management. It’s really been an invigorating experience, which I wish I’d done 30 years ago.”
Back to the Books
After 40 years of practicing medicine, Dr. Maiman thought he wanted to get his MBA to go into hospital administration, but he quickly changed his mind.
“I don’t want to work for anybody else,” he said. “I’m finding [the MBA program] intellectually stimulating. I have found some really inspiring teachers in this program.
“I’ve been a professor in both graduate and medical school, and I’m impressed with this faculty. I’m talking about Sunday seminars, responding to emails within minutes, helping with assignments, throwing out ideas, even talking both on the phone and online. I would almost argue that my involvement with the faculty here is as much as one would expect in an in-person classroom.”
Dr. Maiman decided early on that in-person classes were not feasible. He researched online programs and landed on UW-Parkside thanks to its reasonable cost, accredited status and flexible programming. He also liked that he could complete a general management degree without having to pigeonhole himself into a particular path.
It’s not unusual for him to spend three or four hours a night doing homework. Dr. Maiman has proven that even a brain surgeon with a Ph.D. in engineering can be challenged.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the UW-Parkside MBA program has been the group work for Dr. Maiman. The students have been able to share fresh perspectives and interact in a way that doesn’t always happen in an in-person program.
“In these courses, I have met some of the most interesting people whom I would never have had contact with otherwise,” he said. “[With in-person classes,] when there are discussion groups, you find that there are typically one or two people who tend to monopolize those discussions. That doesn’t happen online.
“If you would have told me that I would be in a group ranging from a waitress who wanted to be a restaurant manager to a senior vice president of a technology corporation, I would have never believed it.”
What Now? What’s Next?
Dr. Maiman is a faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He still has a clinic and sees patients one day per week. He stopped operating as a neurosurgeon four years ago.
“I still do research, and I do some consulting which I enjoy,” he said. “I also own some commercial real estate with one building that I manage myself. This [MBA] program has been extremely helpful in that.”
He plans to attend his graduation ceremony and bring all 14 grandchildren. Although Dr. Maiman is still weighing his career options after graduation, he enjoys the clinical practice, pathophysiology and injury consulting and now, real estate activities.
“It sounds silly that I don’t have a plan because the MBA is perceived as being a goal-directed degree, but what it really does is open opportunities,” he said.
Dr. Maiman does have one goal that is certain: Once the pandemic ends, he wants to start running a half-day clinic for indigent patients with spine problems, as many do not have access to the care they need.
He has also become an advocate for those he believes could benefit from the MBA program at UW-Parkside.
“You need to understand the whole package. You can’t just take a course on leadership,” he said. “You need to understand budgets, finances and the business world. If you’re after long-term credibility in your field and more importantly, improving your skill set, this MBA program is extremely valuable.”
Work-life balance is important to Dr. Maiman who still makes time for hobbies like playing jazz piano, investing and traveling. He may even start fishing again and take his grandchildren along.
“I go to an athletic trainer three times a week, for strength training,” he said. “I fight martial arts, and I cycle when the season allows, sometimes two to three hours a day. Exercise makes your day go better. So does mental exercise.”
Spoken like a true learner.
Learn more about the UW-Parkside MBA with a Concentration in General Management online program.