Blogs

Home / Blogs

Work On Your Medical Practice, Not Just In Your Medical Practice

Entrepreneurial Physician

Fresh out of residency, newly-minted doctors face a choice that will determine the path of their professional careers. Should they become employees of a hospital or medical organization, or should they strike out and own their own independent practice?

The allure of independence beckons some, but the skills related to business ownership are simply not taught in medical school. To make up for this, physicians in private practice typically delegate business decisions to office managers and staff who are supposedly better versed in running a practice.

In my three decades of private practice, I’ve consistently witnessed that newly practicing physicians are generally ill-prepared for the business challenges associated with founding, managing, and running a medical practice.

A Neurosurgeon’s Secret to Success

Over drinks at a beach-side restaurant, a very successful neurosurgeon friend remarked that his most profitable time was not his time in the surgery room. Instead, it was the time he set aside each Friday afternoon to work on his 4-physician neurosurgery practice.

During this allocated time, he figured out where he made his money, how to optimize his practice revenue, how to decrease billing friction, and how to make his clinical and business processes more efficient. With a neurosurgeon’s meticulousness, he dissected the smallest aspects of his practice for optimization.

Although my friend was in one of the best paid specialties per unit of patient-care time, he found it more profitable and reasonable to purposely set patient care time aside to work on his practice.

But does this really make sense for a neurosurgeon? After all, they are well-paid for their skills; there are few who can do what they do; their skills take years to acquire, and they incur great risk when exercising those skills. Neurosurgeons, like many specialists, often focus solely on exercising their medical skills rather than adopting a business owner persona.

As my friend discovered, time spent thinking like an owner created the conditions that improved his standard of care.

Time spent thinking like an owner improved his practice’s profitability and ability to be self-sustaining. Moreover, the time spent making improvements compounded every week that those improvements were put in place; thus yielding great benefits over a long career.

Time spent thinking like an owner gave him the time that allowed us to have the pleasure of having drinks on a sunny beach, far away from the office.

The Importance of Broadening Your Professional Lens

The first challenge to improving one’s medical practice is one of perspective, not one of effort or intelligence.

Like a chef, a software programmer, or a musician, we physicians spend years honing our technical craft. But those years of training create a tunnel vision or blind spot in our perspective.

We tend to believe that all problems can be solved with more work or technical learning. We strive to enhance our strengths while ignoring our weaknesses. We physicians are particularly susceptible to this cognitive blind spot because our strengths are so strong. As individuals, we are technically adept and have proven ourselves “smart” in academia.

When we look at business problems in the same way we approach medical problems, our training often blinds us to the necessary perspectives for starting and managing a medical practice.

Physicians rightfully have strong egos and high opinions of themselves. It’s a necessary behavioral adjustment to the work that we do. But often this leads us to willfully ignore or not accept the perspectives of others, as we’re the ones who are supposed to be “in the know.” This strong ego may also blind you to the necessity of building business systems and recruiting the right team to run those systems.

Understanding and accepting that our professional difficulties may be due to the lens through which we approach problems is the first step to accepting different points of view and ways to solve our problems.

Accepting that we don’t have all the answers is the beginning of understanding that problems can be improved.

It means letting go of thinking like a doctor. It means approaching your problems with the mindset of an entrepreneur and manager.

Thinking like an owner or founder and not just a technician or employee (commonly known as a practicing physician) is the secret ingredient to achieving success and personal happiness.

Starting Your Journey as a Medical Entrepreneur

If you’re ready to start focusing on your practice from a new perspective, the time to start is now.

Block your calendar for 2-4 hours per week of inviolable time to work on your practice (and don’t squeeze in an extra case or patient that you couldn’t fit in earlier in the week).

Put the meeting on your schedule as a repeating event, with an agenda to be determined (TBD).

Get a hat that says “CEO,” “Founder,” or “Owner.”

Now you’re ready to start working on your practice.

But how? What is the first meeting supposed to be about? What’s on the agenda?

I’m Dr. Lawrence Gordon, and with decades of experience in private practice, I’ve seen the transformative power of thinking like a business owner. Join me in the next post where we’ll delve deeper into understanding roles and responsibilities within your practice. See you there!

Dr. Lawrence Gordon

Dr. Lawrence Gordon, MD

He is a practicing Otolaryngologist and the founder of ENT Specialty Care located in Goshen, NY. He is also the CEO and Founder of WRS Health. The software is an all-in-one platform, designed by physicians, providing clinician-centered workflow solutions to continually improve and grow your practice.