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The cure for the common medical student.Uncommon Student MD is a community of medschool students and residents who want to learn from physician leaders and others about how to control our medical career and expand our opportunities. We're affiliated with Freelance MD. Which specialty? > RSS LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Join Uncommon Here
 

 

"I wouldn't do it twice, but I would not 'not' do it once."

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Entries in MD/MBA (2)

Monday
Apr302012

A CEO & Entrepreneur Who Also Happens To Be A Surgeon; An Interview With Dr. Arlen Meyers

"Taking Care of Business Is Taking Care Of Patients." -Dr. Arlen Meyers MD MBA

When you ask most physicians what they do, the answer is expected to include their specialty and maybe a bit about a fellowship or possibly some research. With Dr. Arlen Meyers, it's not quite that simple. A professor of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado Denver, he is also cofounder, President and Chief Medical Officer of medvoy.com, a globally integrated, doctor to doctor referral platform. He has been named one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 by Modern Healthcare and is currently serving as the founding CEO and President of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and Director of the Certificate Program in Bioinnovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado. This is just the tip of the iceberg; Dr. Meyers is working to radically change the way doctors do business. I was able to catch him for a quick chat.

Enter Dr. Arlen Meyers

What Does Your Job Entail

Basically, I have two lives. The first as an academic head and neck surgeon which involves teaching medical students, residents, staffing clinics, and all the other medical stuff. The other side of my life is all about bioentrepreneurship. My second world is about the research, education, and practice of bioentrepreneurship in medicine; specifically ENT surgery, and that’s how I spend my time.

What’s the secret to becoming an entrepreneur and a surgeon?

I don't think it's a secret, but I'd say you need to get up early and work your ass off (said with a grin). I don’t know what else to tell you. We only have 24 hours in a day, and we just choose to use them in a certain way.

When did you first develop an interest in entrepreneurship?

Well in retrospect, probably when I was 8 or 10, but I think I was too stupid to know that at the time. Fundamentally, my view on this is that becoming an entrepreneur is about 15% being hard wired to do it, and it’s about 85% getting the knowledge, skills, abilities, and work experience to make it happen.

What is your advice to physicians or medical students who are considering getting an MBA?

It's really quite simple. Basically you are going to get your ticket punched, and everyone’s going to say, “Hmmm, this doc is an MD MBA.” You’re going to meet a whole bunch of business minded people, and you’re going to learn some stuff. Those are the three reasons that you go to business school. Now, what opportunities will you have if you get an MBA? That’s always the real question.

Doctors who get an MBA basically are doing it for 3 main reasons:

1.They’re interested in furthering their education and getting credentials so they can be in a health service leadership position—VP for medical affairs, medical officer, president of the hospital, whatever.

2. They want to do it because they’re interested in health service research or strategy, so they want to run a public health office in their state or something like that.

3. They want to start a company or they want to be an entrepreneur.

My advice would be that an MBA makes the most sense if you’re in category 1. If you’re in category 2, you probably shouldn’t be pursuing an MBA. You should probably be doing a Masters in Public Health or Public Administration. And if you find yourself in category 3, you shouldn’t waste your time with an MBA; just go out and start a company.

Why did you decide to start the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SOPE) and what kinds of things does it do for physicians who are interested in entrepreneurship?

I started it because it needed to be done and no one else was doing it. The Society of Physician Entrepreneurs is a lesson in entrepreneurship and that is something that doctors are not trained to do. Basically, in order for you to start something to be successful, it has to satisfy three objectives: One, it has to be a big unmet market need. Two, you have to create something that satisfies that need in such a way that people are willing to pay for it. Three, you have create a business model so it sustains itself. We do not get trained about this stuff in medical school or residency.

To me, the biggest opportunity in US Health care reform is innovation. However the sad truth is that most doctors don’t get it. Remember the typical line, "doctors are terrible business people." Actually, I don’t think they are but that’s a whole another conversation. I want to fundamentally change that stereotype and SOPE is one way to make that happen. Our focus is not on practice management in the traditional sense, our focus is on innovation and on bioentrepreneurship. We want to show how to get a life science idea to market and change health care with your idea. It’s not how to squeeze another nickel out of your accounts receivable.

Do you have a book recommendation for our readers?

The one that I’m writing called The Life Science Innovation Road Map. You will hear more about when it is relased, I hope it will help doctors learn how to make there ideas a reality.

 

Wednesday
Mar212012

Have The Power To Practice Medicine How You Want

Turning Healthcare Ideas To Action

Jessica is a fourth-year med student in the Tufts MD/MBA program and will be heading to Portland, OR, for residency in Family Practice. While in school, she has been involved in various consulting projects for hospitals, health clinics, and small health and wellness businesses. She is also the co-founder of the Ideas To Action series at Tuffs University. It is a speaker/workshop enrichment series for health sciences students interested in entrepreneurship and idea development. With a profound interest in entrepreneurship, her goal is to have the freedom to explore innovative ways to impact health and wellness. I was able to chat with her about her journey, and I thought it was definitely worth sharing.

How did you decide to go to medical school? 

My path was not at all conventional. When I was young becoming a doctor was something I said I would never do. Both of my parents are doctors and they actually told me not to go into medicine. The change happened while I was at Harvard studying psychology. I heard about the combined MD/MBA program Harvard had just started, and I loved the idea. I always had an interest in the world of business and innovation, but I also liked that medicine gave you the opportunity to directly change people's lives. However, these two worlds existed apart in my mind until that point.  Now I did not have to choose.  I could take both of my interests and turn them into my passion, so I became a premed student. Once I decided medicine was what I wanted to do, my parents were supportive; and my mom gave some great advice. She told me that if I was going to choose this career path, I had to make sure I had the power to practice medicine how I wanted.

When/how did you get interested entrepreneurship?

I guess it’s something that has always been with me. My family is very entrepreneurial, and so maybe it's just in my blood.

Tell me about Ideas To Action Series?

While in school, I found myself constantly coming up with ideas, but I really didn’t know what to do with them. I approached my MD/MBA course director about this, and he put me in touch with Don Lombardi, the founder of Institute for Pediatric Innovation. As I began to explore my frustrations about the life science entrepreneurial process, I realized a lot of other students might feel this same way; and Ideas To Action Series was born.

The format is simple. We have someone who is creative and/or innovative in healthcare talk about the process they used to go from a dream to reality. This gets the creative juices flowing. Then we start the workshop portion where everyone gets into groups to come up with a product or service that could be a solution for a current problem in healthcare. It is always fun to see the great ideas people come up with, and I am always impressed by the creativity displayed during these sessions. After brainstorming, the moderator takes some of the best ideas and goes through some practical ways to implement them in the real world. It’s fun to have ideas, but it’s even more fun to actually do something. Giving students tools that lead to action is our main goal with Ideas To Action.

Any Advice To Medical Students Who Want To Follow An Unconventional Career Path?

Being a student is actually the perfect opportunity to approach an individual or company and ask to learn what they do. At this point you are not seen as competition, and people will likely go out of there way to help you. During one of your breaks, seek out a doctor who is doing something you find interesting or starting up a company in health care and tell them you are very interested in what they do and would love to learn more. Ask to work with them for a week, or even for the summer, and see where it goes.

Any Non medical Book Recommendations?

The title is How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes.  I know it has the ring of a cheesy self-help book.  But for people like me (many of whom I imagine are in fact medical students) who get a little uncomfortable in networking situations, this is an awesome book for building a little social confidence.  It offers great tips for entering a gathering with self-assurance, making a positive first-impression, and connecting meaningfully with people. This is especially important for students who want to do innovative or alternative things and therefore need to talk to lots of different people, outside of the med school bubble, at conferences, workshops, and startup events.

 

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