Instead Of Doing My Residency After Med School, I Decided To Become A Healthcare Entrepreneur. These 3 Things Helped Me Make This Tough Career Decision
I come from a family of healthcare practitioners.
All growing up, I was exposed to the challenges they face being physicians. I saw how changes in the industry impacted their work, their business, even the way they could go about treating patients. In the last five or ten years, especially, I have seen how many problems are rooted in the way the healthcare system is designed—its rules, regulations, and practices.
When I was younger, I thought the way I could make a difference was by becoming a doctor myself. I studied and received an MD from USAT Montserrat. I started down the path of becoming a doctor, began working within the healthcare business, and immediately I could see how so many of the problems I was aware of from afar could (and should) be easily solved with technology—issues around communication and information sharing especially.
Every day, I would show up to the office and see how inefficiently our clinics were operating.
People were doing dozens and dozens of the same, redundant tasks, all the while the clinic feeling strained for resources. Everyone was “busy,” but from my perspective, it was because time wasn’t being used efficiently. For example, people would send documents via fax machine, or use physical paper for patient intake forms, picking up the phone and calling someone for a piece of information that could have easily been sent in a text message.
So, I started to ask why. “Why are we doing it this way? How could people within the clinic automate and simplify a lot of these time-consuming tasks, so they could spend more time doing the more important work of delivering health care to people who need it?”
That’s when I realized I wasn’t meant to be a doctor.
I was meant to be a healthcare entrepreneur.
One of the big catalysts for my decision to make this pivot was realizing how many rules a physician has to navigate in order to practice medicine. How you practice is very much determined by insurance companies. In my case, I knew myself enough to know that I don’t work very well within rules and immovable frameworks. I’m a curious person, and I want to know how things work so that I can find new ways to solve old problems. And I ultimately felt my vision had more to do with solving issues within organizations, building technologies to better suit the needs of modern healthcare professionals.
The reason I am sharing this with you is because making a pivot like this can be challenging.
Anyone who grows up in a family of people working in medicine knows the influence that can have on your trajectory through life.
For me, I always saw it as a benefit. I was exposed to medicine at a young age, and I was attracted to the idea of helping people in a truly meaningful way. But when I said I wanted to deviate from conventional medicine and go the health-tech route, I got a lot of raised eyebrows and tilted heads. At the end of the day, my family and parents want me to be happy, and so they supported my decision because they saw how passionate I was about my vision.
To be honest, the decision was only difficult because it had more to do with my own self-limiting beliefs.
Similar to anyone else who has ever “taken the leap” to pursue something they are curious and excited about, I had to really confront some of my fears that were getting in the way. It can be scary to commit yourself to a big project. You can very easily start to overthink things, get in your head, and wonder whether you truly have the ability to build something impactful in the world. But to me, what helped me make the decision was asking myself if I would regret not trying. I just couldn’t see myself spending another four, five, six years of my life training to be a doctor when these ideas were clearly dominating my focus.
If this is the type of decision you’re thinking about making in your own life, here are the three things that really helped me clear my head throughout the process:
1. Turn to your support network and think things through out loud.
I feel lucky to have such a solid support network of family, friends, and also fellow entrepreneurs I can turn to for advice.
Before you take the plunge into a new career, or to explore an idea you think has potential, it’s a good idea to get as much feedback as you can before you start inheriting real risk. Talk to people you trust. Ask people who have done this sort of thing before. See what you can learn from their experiences, so you can better prepare yourself for the journey ahead.
Ultimately, it’s going to come down to you to make the decision. But knowing you have people in your corner can be a tremendous help.
2. You have to choose a problem you’re truly passionate about solving.
Startup life is hard. It’s a long road, and there are going to be days you don’t want to get out of bed and work, just like any other job—except with your own company, nobody is going to sit there making sure you do what you need to do.
So if the problem you are setting out to solve isn’t something you are determined to solve, it’s going to be difficult to have the grit to stick things out.
The mistake people make here, however, is confusing what they believe will be “valuable” and what they’re truly passionate about. But many experienced entrepreneurs share how even if something is a trillion-dollar opportunity, if you aren’t passionate about it, you probably aren’t going to make it very far. So you have to really trust your intuition and go after something you feel connected to—not what you think will make you rich overnight.
3. Ground yourself through physical exercise, meditation, etc.
As an entrepreneur, you are going to have a lot of days where you don’t know what you’re doing, and you start questioning the path you’re on.
This is why it’s so important for you to start creating positive habits for yourself before you leap into the unknown—because if you aren’t able to take care of yourself now, then you definitely won’t be able to take care of yourself once the journey begins (and negative habits start to have huge trickle-down effects).
A few ways you can keep yourself grounded is by getting to the gym on a consistent basis, meditating, practicing yoga, breathwork, etc.
All of these things will help stimulate your creativity, and connect back to the honest reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing.