You Can Run from the Business of Medicine, But You Can't Hide

You Can Run from the Business of Medicine, But You Can't Hide

Not too long ago, I was asked to talk to a group of 4th year medical students about physician innovation and entrepreneurship and the business of biomedicine and care delivery. I asked the roughly 50 people in the audience how many intended to go into private practice or work for a private group. One lone hand sheepishly pierced the air. When asked why, student loans and not wanting to "mess with all that practice management and business stuff" topped the list.

That's too bad because, in the present environment of care delivery, not matter where or how you work, your ability to navigate the business of medicine hurdles and practice physician entrepreneurship instead of just practice management will determine whether you white coat gets the pink slip. That's because:

  1. No matter how much someone contracts to pay you, they will only be able to do so if you generate enough revenue, plus profit, to cover your salary, benefits, loan forgiveness or bonuses.

  2. As an intrapreneur, you will be expected to generate value for your employer.

  3. Value based contracting will force your organization to manage your costs and revenues and will depend on you to play nice with others to do so.

  4. As more graduates finish with an entrepreneurial mindset, intellectual property ownership issues will become more pressing and included (or intentionally omitted) from employment contracts.

  5. Women physicians have challenges when it comes to income inequity and work-life tradeoff accommodations.

  6. Over 50% of employed docs change jobs within 3 years. Things are a bit different for employed academic docs.

  7. Rural physicians and their spouses also have specific challenges.

  8. The changing business environment of medicine will affect your well being more than whether to prescribe the next new new drug or thing.

  9. Business stress will contribute to your burnout.

  10. The cost of changing jobs for both you and your employer are increasing and , if you signed an enforceable restrictive covenant, for example, you might find yourself living and working in a new neighborhood.

The bottom line is that you won't learn about the business of medicine during medical school or residency. Start now and start building a plan at least 18 months before you graduate. Don't use the time to look for a hiding place.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship.

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  • Mark Andrews

    Excellent article

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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