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Medical professionals of all levels do incredible work every day – often saving lives, relieving pain or providing comfort. But sometimes, even after the many years of training it takes to become a licensed caregiver, you may want to leave the profession behind and try something completely different.
Trade in the scrubs for a briefcase
There are a number of reasons why someone in the medical field is attracted to entrepreneurship. One of the most obvious is that healthcare providers, such as nurses and doctors, who are used to using traditional interventions to help patients, may be inspired to develop their own market solution for a medical problem or deficiency they have discovered. That could be an idea for a new medical device or treatment, a mobile app cloud service or a groundbreaking approach to a standard procedure.
Take Justin Barad, co-founder and CEO of Osso VR, who has an MD from UCLA. During his residency, he was inspired to see the limitations of traditional surgical training. Eventually, he was able to combine his medical knowledge with a passion for gaming to found a company that uses virtual reality to provide 3D surgical simulations.
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Another reason to change careers may be a desire for a change in lifestyle or work schedule. Doctors often get tired of being exposed to diseases and viruses or being tied to the physical location of their clinic. While the vision of working on a laptop from a beach in Bali may be wishful thinking, a career in business is likely to involve more travel and the need to work on the go.
Personality and skills can also be factors. Healthcare providers who are particularly clever and truly adept at explaining complex medical concepts could be wooed by health-related companies wanting a physician’s expertise on hand. Even big tech companies like Apple and Google are expanding into healthcare and hiring doctors.
Which entrepreneurial roles suit a medical professional?
Some health care providers find the opportunity to start a startup related to their experience. This will most likely be something they’ve been mulling over for a while, realizing that they might just be the right person, with the right qualifications and aspirations to start a new venture.
It’s smart to partner with someone who already has a foothold in his or her field of interest, or at least has some relevant connections, to help make an idea a reality. For example, Barad co-founded his company with an experienced game developer.
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Even if a medical professional doesn’t have their own innovative idea or solution to a medical problem in mind, they can still be a welcome addition to an established company. For example, they may be a perfect fit for a leadership role at a medical technology company, where they can help develop products or services related to their medical background. Or they can be an important asset to a pharmaceutical company’s sales force, as customers and prospects will appreciate hearing from someone with life experience in the field.
Being a successful entrepreneur may require changes in skills and mindset. Looking for further education could be a wise move. If that’s not feasible, taking night classes or online courses in areas that require work, such as public speaking, marketing, or business writing, may be helpful.
In addition to expanding skills, a person transitioning from the medical profession to business must make one major change in their mindset – and that involves becoming more comfortable with risk. For example, a physician may tend to be risk averse, as should be given the life-and-death stakes sometimes involved with patients. Entrepreneurs must be willing and willing to take calculated risks – that’s how a company innovates and grows.
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Before you hand in those scrubs for good, there are many ways to dip a toe into the entrepreneurial pool. Talk to people. Attend medical conferences and vendor booths to get an idea of what service providers and suppliers are doing in the marketplace. Share the solutions you have to the problems you face with others and see what they think. Read about reported advancements in medical journals that can lead to great ideas.
Good healthcare and medical companies cannot exist without the input of professionals with first-hand experience. Healthcare providers making the transition to business not only have the opportunity to explore a rewarding second career, but also have the potential to bring life-changing innovations to patients.