Some Warnings for Physician’s Wanting to Be Entrepreneurs

Posted on March 26, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Last year I got to know a bit about an organization called the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs. It’s a fascinating organization that works to help physicians with their entrepreneurial dreams come true. I love the concept because so many doctors have ideas that can benefit healthcare, but commercializing an idea is always a challenge.

Arlen Meyers, MD, and Co-founder, President and CEO of the society has a great blog post up called “Don’t Throw Away Your White Coat.” In the post he gives a list of 10 reasons why doctors might want to think twice about leaving medicine for their entrepreneurial dream:

1. Most doctors don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset.

2. Doctors are trained to be risk averse.

3. Doctors are more interested in being problem solvers than problem seekers.

4. Doctors tend to be multidimensional, unwilling to expand their networks beyond an inner circle.

5. The culture of academic medicine, where almost all doctors are trained, tends to be anti-entrepreneurial and sees “money as dirty”

6. The ethics of medicine frequently are at odds with the perceived ethics of business.

7. While things are changing, most doctors are independently minded and not team players.

8. Some are “know it alls” who are not receptive to new ideas

9. Doctors spend a lot of time, money and effort becoming doctors. The opportunity costs or leaving clinical medicine to pursue an entrepreneurial venture is high.

10. The cost to society of losing a clinician at a time when there is a predicted doctors shortage is high.

I really appreciate this kind of frank talk about physician entrepreneurs. I’ve seen both sides of the equation and so I know that many doctors shouldn’t be entrepreneurs. I’ve also seen some doctors who probably should have been entrepreneurs and not doctors. In fact, I’m glad they became doctors because then they’re better able to be healthcare entrepreneurs. However, we shouldn’t be shy in talking about the challenge that many doctors have in crossing the chasm to entrepreneurship. Just like we shouldn’t be shy in talking about a tech person trying to learn healthcare.

Thanks Dr. Meyers for expanding the discussion. What do you think of his list? Have you seen examples of these? Can you leverage some of these challenges into strengths for your healthcare company?