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The annual Physicians Helping Physicians Celebration and Networking event is coming up, this April 6-7, 2019 in the beautiful Austin, Texas. If it wasn't for a conference for work I already booked, I would so be going. I am putting these dates into my calendar for next year so I can try to attend in 2020.  This event has an outstanding agenda, in which you work on your resume, elevator pitch, get one-on-one mentoring with physicians who are doing what you want to do, in-depth informational sessions on all sorts of non-clinical careers, a reception, and of course, you're in beautiful Austin the whole time! 1. Tell me a little about yourself, your journey, and what you do? I have four degrees – one of those being a medical degree. It took me a long time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I am always reinventing myself – I guess we all are. That’s probably healthy. I am fascinated by all the different types of jobs and careers out there. What I do is to constantly learn more about different careers out there and how to get into them – then help others who may be unhappy, bored or just wanting a career change for some reason. It wasn’t always this way, though! For many years I was very lost, feeling like a failure because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew practicing medicine wasn’t it! For awhile, all I cared about was finding a non- clinical career and getting into it. I ended up in a medical device job and back in school to get a Master’s Degree. I thought I’d be happy in hospital administration so I got a Masters in Healthcare Administration. But when I realized hospital administration wasn’t “it” either, I pivoted into another way to use my medical degree and my new Masters degree – Corporate Wellness. That was a good landing place for me....for awhile. After a few years I got bored with that job. But I was ready at that point. During those years working in the Corporate Wellness job I took many steps to make sure I’d never find myself in the situation of feeling trapped in my career or job and not knowing what to do. That resilience has enabled me to reinvent myself and ways to make money many times over so I can shape my career around my life, not the other way around. 2. What was your motivation for creating PhysiciansHelpingPhysicians  (PHPhysicians.com) and Docs Outside the Box podcast? How long were you  thinking about creating this business before you took the leap and did it? I transitioned out of clinical medicine back in 2004 and I found it very difficult to do on my own. I made a lot of mistakes! One of those mistakes was hiring a recruiter. I had no idea what I wanted to do or what I could do so it seemed to be a logical step to hire a recruiter to just get me a job. But I didn’t understand what recruiters do or how they get paid. And, I didn’t understand that if I didn’t know what I wanted to do, it was a bad idea to ask someone who didn’t even know me to find me a job! Once I figured out the next step of my career, I vowed I would help other doctors who might also want to transition to a non clinical career. And actually, I was featured on Docs Outside the Box podcast – I did not create that podcast - that’s Nii Darko, another doctor who has put together an amazing bunch of podcasts over the years. 3. How did you transition into being a physician career coach? What was that transition like? That transition was not a transition – it was something that evolved over time as I was contacted by others and helped them transition by sharing my knowledge and experience – first my own experiences and my transition and then, as I helped more and more doctors, of others’ transitions. I’m pretty open and willing to talk about this thing that used to be the pink elephant in the room - physicians who don’t want to practice or see patients - so others started to find me and reach out to me. I wrote a lot about it and when those articles were published in places like Physicians Practice or KevinMD, others would learn about me. I got invited to speak at conferences and stuff. This was before there where things like these Facebook Groups so people were fascinated to hear about this and some doctors were hungry for this knowledge they couldn’t’ find anywhere else. 4. There are so many career coaches out there. How can a physician choose a career coach that is right for them? Are there certain traits of a good career coach? There are more and more doctors becoming career coaches. I started seeing that around 2012. It can be a good thing because there are so many doctors looking for help – whether it’s because of burnout, boredom or some other reason – so the demand for physician career coaches has grown. It’s also more accepted to admit you may not want to practice anymore (or at all). At the same time, some of the issues in medicine have gotten worse – the increased administrative responsibilities, the number of patients with multiple complex issues and the drive for cost saving and efficiencies. In some instances, I see things continuing to get worse. Doctors are required to see so many more patients per day and do so much more paperwork for each one. At some point, it’s non sustainable. Some places are there already. It’s no wonder some doctors want out. This is not what we signed up for. When choosing a career coach, I encourage you to talk with several before making a decision. Ask questions related to your needs and what you expect from a coach. Having these conversations will help you learn more about each coach’s personality and how he or she might approach helping you. You will get a sense of who you might work well with. At some point, you will just need to make a decision and go with it. Expect to pay at least several thousand dollars to work with a physician career coach for several months. But you also have to be willing to do the (sometimes hard) work to help yourself. You can’t expect a career coach to wave a magic wand and get you a job if you don’t know what you want or you’re not willing to put in the work. You should expect to get advice and assistance in things like networking, social media profiles, your resume, your elevator pitch and your plan, just to name a few things. Traits of a good coach include wanting to meet you where you are at and get you results. You may not get into your next job within several months of hiring and working with a career coach. But you will definitely be a heck of a lot further along than if do it yourself. There are hundreds of books out there about how to write a resume - and if you Google resume, you’ll get over 650K results. How do you know how to sift through all those? It could take days or weeks. But a coach can guide you to translate your CV or put together a new resume in a much shorter timeframe. Likewise with networking and Linked In. Where do you begin? Your coach should have a plan to get you started and ramp you up quickly. Doing it on your own is possible but I’ve had people tell me they procrastinated for weeks or months – or even years! – because they didn’t know where to start. 5. What do you see are the biggest challenges physicians face when transitioning  into a nonclinical career? How can physicians avoid this? Some of the biggest challenges include jumping right into something else because you CAN do it, not because you want to do it. Another challenge is not knowing or understanding the realities of other jobs or careers. Still another is expecting your life to be magically perfect in a new career. Another is worrying what people will think about choosing a non-clinical career. Still another is losing confidence in yourself or believing you aren’t able or qualified to do anything else. You CAN do this – most doctors just need help because we’ve never had to think about this stuff. Typically, we had to jump through a lot of hoops to become a doctor but those hoops were laid out for us and we knew when and where to jump. Knowing this is going to be hard, uncomfortable, out of your comfort zone, scary and filled with some non-controllable factors will help physicians be better prepared to deal with the uncertainty and new territory a nonclinical career search and transition will entail. 6. What advice would you give to physicians who don’t go into residency and want to immediately start their entrepreneurial journey? Do it! It’s old and traditional thinking that you have to do a residency and then you can start your life. But it’s a slippery slope and topic. I encourage residents who are in their 2nd year or higher of a residency to finish, but start putting steps into place to find and get into a non clinical career or start a business or another career entirely. An active license and board certification is required in many non- clinical careers and shift work (urgent care, telemedicine, locums, etc) can be a good way to earn some extra money if you ever need it. But if you are pretty sure you don’t want to practice regularly, don’t slog through another 5 years after you finish. Sure, some doors will be closed to you without that practice experience but life is short. If you can’t get into a residency or if you’ve already left, there are still plenty of options for doctors without a residency. Some include physician liaison work with EMR companies like EPIC, consulting for companies like McKinsey & Co, or doing a whole host of other careers that have nothing to do with medicine and may just involve a certification you can get in a few months. You might actually make more money in the long run than if you had spent years practicing miserably. 7. What if a physician wanted to be an entrepreneur, but have no idea where to start. What’s the first step to starting a business? The first step to starting a business is validating your idea. You want to be sure people will buy what you are selling! A business has to make money somehow. There are lots of interesting ways to monetize a business – some that people never think of. So get crystal clear on your idea and then talk to 100 people about it. Find out where the holes are. Figure out what won’t work. Then tweak and pivot. During this time, get clear on your target audience. Who needs your product or service? Get someone to pay for it – even if it’s just $1. Once you have paying customers, you know your idea has some legs. 8. Do you recommend finding a mentor? Do you have one and how did you find yours? Oh, I can’t say enough about the value of mentors. I wish I would have had a mentor in medicine. It took me a long time to realize the value and find mentors. Another mistake on my part! I sort of fell into getting my first mentor but now I have several - and I continue to look for more. Having a mentor is sort of like a friend – one can’t give you everything you need. You need different mentors for different aspects of your life. 9. It can be really overwhelming starting something brand new, what’s the best advice you can share with physicians thinking about, but feeling scared, about starting their own business? Just start writing something down and evolve that. As physicians, we fear failure. You don’t have to get this perfect right away – or ever. Some of the best ideas were started on the back of a cocktail napkin after a couple beers. Know that you don’t have to quit your job and live in the back of your car or move to Silicon Valley to be successful with your idea. There are plenty of very successful businesses that are pure lifestyle businesses and done very part time that can bring in thousands or hundreds of thousands of extra income each year. And there is a chance you could eventually run the business full time but plan for a ramp up time of at least a couple years.
So I have both scary and exciting news. A recruiter reached out to me regarding a position at an international pharmaceutical company and now I have an interview scheduled! The interview is really soon. Like in three days soon. I am not even board certified in medical affairs and just recently completed the modules for the program. However, I can confidently say that I know 100% more about medical affairs than I did three weeks ago before I started the program. It could be total coincidence that this connection happened at this time. However, the only thing that has been different about my LinkedIn is the fact that I have my articles written about my progress in the BCMAS program and how I am learning more about medical affairs.  Honestly, I have not really had a recruiter contact me before and my CV moved to the possibility of an interview before. Traditionally, I would search for recruiters for jobs that I want to apply to and message all the recruiters that might be associated with that company and position specifically. It would be a hit or miss kind of situation. Some times I would connect with the right recruiter who would move my application to the hiring manager. Or they'd just ghost me and I never hear back again.  Side note, as physicians, we often think or are under the impression that "I got this because I have clinical experience". Well, from my experience, that still doesn't get your foot into the door. What gets your foot into the door is finding that right connection. Although, there is always that rare instance where someone has over 17 years of clinical experience, 7 years in research, etc. But for someone, like me, who has not been practicing for a very long time and has no experience in pharma, I need to up my game and knowledge.  Onto the pharma interview process! The first part is prepping. There's pre-prep and then there's prep. Interview Pre-prep: Work on your LInkedIn Profile Now this phase is getting your social media profiles up to par in case a hiring manager or recruiter looks at your profile, they are so impressed that they want to hire you immediately. Important to remember is that, when you're looking at the profiles of people from other companies, they will see that you checked out their profile, so they might go and check yours out too. If it looks like you might be a good candidate for a role they know about in their company, they may even reach out to you to see if that's why you were looking at their profile. It happened to me before! I was snooping around looking at profiles of employees in a certain role at a company, and then one of those employees actually messaged me and told me more about the role.  I failed on this one because I did not think anyone was looking at my LinkedIn so it has two sentences on it. I think a redeeming factor is that I have listed on my LinkedIn, my experience learning about medical affairs, something connecting me to pharma is better than nothing, right? Note to self: work on LinkedIn Network with people who may have insider knowledge for potential companies that may be hiring Internal referrals are gold. You meet the right person, hit if off, and the next thing you know, when their company is hiring, they shoot you an email asking if you're interested. YES PLEASE. If you don't get an internal referral, you might still be able to connect with that person, be exposed to their network connections through the LinkedIn magic and meet more potential connections.  Or you could even learn about the company from the insider point of view and possibly realize, this company is actually not a good fit and not what I am looking for. Interview Prep: This phase is the active interview preparation. To optimize this phase, here are some tips of what you can do: Ask people who have already interviewed with similar companies: Luckily I have a friend who is currently in the process of interviewing for a pharma company who gave me some advice (in fact, she even gave me advice specific to the company I was interviewing at!): 1. Do not talk about compensation 2. Show how parts of your resume demonstrate therapeutic expertise Ask someone who currently works at the company or a company similar to the one you plan to interview at: Friends who work at pharma companies recommended to me this advice: 1. Read over the job description and make sure you understand the role 2. Look up peer-reviewed journals that the relate to the therapeutic device/product/expertise area that you are interviewing in  Google "tips for pharma interview" 1. Glassdoor company page has interview questions people anonymously post 2. Indeed.com reviews of the company 3. General interview questions found on the web The Interview: The interview took place over the phone and lasted about 45 minutes.  It started off casually with greetings and us asking each other how the other's day went. I am going to now list the questions and put comments in parentheses. Before I tell you the questions, I want you to go into the questions thinking about how all of these questions are kind of asking the same question in many different ways. You will see that my interviewer has an ideal candidate in mind and through his/her questions, and he/she wants to see if I am this ideal person.  The interviewer already knows what they want. Now they are fitting you into their mold to see how well you fit. Usually your job description will describe to you this exact person they want. Your focus is on using your experiences in a narrative that paints the picture that you are the ideal person they are looking for. Go over your resume closely and for each experience you have listed, think about how you can use it in your interview to show you meet the therapeutic expertise, personality type, company mission, etc. Questions I was asked: 1. Tell me a little bit about yourself? Remember, you are crafting your narrative using your experiences to show how you fit the job description, the personality type of the role, etc. For example, if it is a sales role, you want to portray yourself as high energy, competitive, a go-getter, up for anything, willing to go out and hunt for your next sale! 2. Why did you apply for this position? What did you like about it? This question checks to see what you know about the role itself. Once again, the interviewer wants to see if you actually like the role because it is the right fit for you as a person. 3. What are your day to day activities like?  This is another way for the interviewer to see if your current day to day activities are similar to what the role may be like. If not similar in exact activities, may be similar in pace. For example, if you work in a super slow environment and you're interviewing for a fast-paced environment, the interviewer would want to know if you keep up in this fast-paced environment or if you'd actually burn out. 4. Why do you want to move all the way out to the West Coast when you're currently on the East Coast?  (he's trying to gauge if I really would take the big step to move across country to start this position) 5.  Have you ever been out here before? A question to assess, would you really take the leap to relocate (for those not interviewing locally or in the same state). Is this place somewhere you actually like and would realistically want to live in. 6. Are you married, single, engaged? What does your significant other do for a living?  (then he goes on to try to see if there are positions for my significant other at the company, as he explains it's more likely we would both want to move to the new state together) Another way for the interviewer to gauge if you realistically would relocate and take this position, if you are serious about the position. 7. What kind of training are you looking for? ( then he goes on to tell me about their training process) A way to gauge your experience related to the therapeutic expertise that comes with the role (remember that in medical affairs, each team works with a specific therapeutic department. Ex. vascular, oncology, etc) 8. What are you looking for in an ideal job? Obviously, once again, a way to gauge if your ideal job actually is the job you're interviewing for. 9. Tell me what your activities, like extracurricular and experiences, were in high school, college, medical school, residency, and now.  This question caught me off guard because it's been a long time since high school and honestly, I have never had anyone ask me about high school in a job interview that was after medical school. I still think it's just the same question of trying to see if your personality and interests are the right fit for the role.  10. This type of role prefers people who are pretty competitive and not similar to your current industry, who are more laid back, are you ready for this? Would this be a good fit?  Another question to see if your personality is right for the role. If you are chill and laid back, a career in a high-paced stressful environment might be the best fit. 11. What motivates you?  What do you wake up for everyday? Gauging to see if you are motivated by similar things that motivate people in this current position to see if you are a good fit. 12. Tell me about your career so far. What do you like the most about what you're currently doing? What do you like the least about what you're doing? This question is similar to the "what is your ideal job" question. The interviewer wants to see if you will be happy and the right fit for this role. Make sure when you answer what you like least about your current job, that it doesn't accidentally turn out to be what the role you're interviewing for also does. For example, I accidentally said I did not enjoy the amount of commuting I do on a daily basis. The role I am applying for has commuting, but much less. Once I mentioned commuting as an issue though, the interviewer asked me more about what I did or did not like about my commute currently.  13. This role is fast-paced, do you think you would like that? More fit question. 14. What questions do you have for me? Remember to always ask questions specific to this company because you are interviewing them and it can be a way for you to show you've chosen to apply to this company, and that you didn't just click apply to every company (even if you did).  15. What other offers or roles are you looking at? After reading those question, do you see what I mean? My interviewer had an exact idea of what he/she wanted and was asking lots of questions to see how much I could fit into this role. From my daily current activities to even if I would be a good fit for the location of the job. The Next-Step: The next step is for me to talk to someone who has already been in the role that I am applying for. Not sure if this is also an interview, or if it's mostly for me to have questions answered. Usually companies will have physicians interviewing talk to another physician in the company who is already doing the role so they can ask direct field-related questions. He then informed me that he would follow-up with me in a few days. I will keep you updated.  P.s. This post is titled "Acing Your Pharma Interview", but I don't know if I did ace my interview, but I hope that by reading this article, that you ace yours!
I have had a ton of people reach out to me asking about what it's like working as a disability (SSI) physician. Since it seems to be something of interest to physicians looking for additional work that borders clinical and non-clinical, I thought I would share my experience in detail in a post. If you want to learn more and have questions that my post does not cover, contact me on my contact form and send me your questions. I have talked to several physicians on the phone and am happy to try to answer as many questions as I can that you might have. While I obviously cannot share the company I work for, you can contact me on the website contact form, send me your contact information and I can share your information with my manager who might be able to help you find a position doing this. Onto my experience: I have been working as a disability (SSI) physician for almost three years now.  When I first started, I was looking for additional work that was part-time, low stress, and low liability. I found the position from an Indeed.com post by searching "moonlighting physician". This fit perfectly into my expectations because the work includes only one Saturday every month, pays 60 dollars per patient, and was low liability as there is no prescribing, patient-doctor relationship, or medical recommendations of any type (I will go into more detail later in post). Then, when I was out shopping, I got a call from someone from the company who did an "interview" on the spot with me. She explained more of the role to me, went over the requirements for application (state medical license, experience with doing range of motion testing, driver's license, etc). She also explained that I would be shadowing another doctor who already had been doing this for a while. She said that I would shadow him as many time as I needed until I felt comfortable with the work.  I sent in my application materials and set up a date to shadow. I shadowed a physician the following Saturday and asked additional questions. There is a standard physical examination template that is already pre-filled and you just modify it as you go, based on your findings and what you do or don't do. It was very helpful and I started less than a month later at the same clinic I shadowed him at.   At first, I did things that way the person I shadowed did them, by writing down my findings and the returning to the next room to complete my report. This was kind of slow and eventually, I started taking my laptop with me into every examination room and completing the templates as I went (duh, lol). I wrote down exactly my observations. For example, if a patient could perform the range of motion, but had pain during the movement, I noted the expression and description of the pain. Literally, what was there in front of my eyes. I also started asking patients if there was anything else that they wanted to mention, talk about, etc before they left and many have expressed that this helped them feel like they were listened to. The process of applying for disability is an arduous journey, one that is very long and ultimately decided by non-medical individuals, so providing them with as much information and conveying empathy to patients helps improve a difficult process. You will be working in likely,  a chiropractor office or some other type of medical facility and not in the company's facility. This company rents out medical offices and you just go there to do the examination.  Some clinics also do pulmonary function tests and x-rays as well. I recommend keeping the interpretations to as pertinent as possible, since these are low quality films. For the PFT's, you are entering in values you get from the machine and not doing some type of intense interpretation of their lung function. I work with a medical assistant and receptionist and sometimes with only a medical assistant that also does the receptionist role. I have enjoyed working with every staff member I've encountered, as they've all been efficient and excellent at their jobs.  The electronic medical record system is very easy to use It contains templates that you can edit as you go along.  Let's talk about money (payment): It depends on your state, but for me it's about 60 dollars a patient and you see two patients per hour. There are usually 15-18 patients on average, but I have had days when almost half the patients no-show and then only saw about 8 patients. Because I don't get paid hourly, it's a bummer. You are reimbursed for mileage if it is over a certain mileage (varies depending on company) and may be reimbursed for hotel rooms up to a certain amount (once again, depends on the company). The company pays you very quickly. You are a 1099 contractor, so no benefits and taxes, so make sure you consider that. I see my direct deposit within 3-4 business days every time. They also reimburse you for mileage if you need to travel greater than 20 miles or so to get to the clinic. This is usually a job for medical residents and residents usually leave the company after they finish, but you can stay on as long as you'd like. Since I live in the area and I love working for this company, I do it three Saturday's a month, instead of just one. I like this type of work because it borders clinical and non-clinical. Because you do not diagnose, do medical interpretation, prescribe, recommend medical services, or have any kind of patient-physician relationship, it's lower liability and lower stress. I always recommend the patients talk to their regular medical provider for any questions they have. Malpractice insurance is included with the company.  I must note that I think in some states, these examinations do ask for the examiners to make the determination if the patient should or should not receive benefits, based on the physical examination. My state does not. In fact, I do not feel like you would be able to make a well-informed decision without looking at every aspect of the patient's life. Even if someone's physical examination was within normal limits, they could have severe mental health illness that limits their ability to work. Also, patients see a psychiatrist for a separate mental health evaluation as part of their application. I always make sure patients know that I do not determine the outcome of their application and that the decision is decided by the state. In fact, the state even states that "determination of disability is an administrative decision" that takes into account work history, lifestyle, etc. I feel like I always need to make this clear, because, even though their paperwork already states it, some patients might think that if they don't somehow demonstrate they're disabled and are able to do portions of the physical examination, that they will not be approved. In fact, I've had terribly sick patients be denied because of things like the state finding out they had a source of income that wasn't reported.  If this is something you think you might want to do, click  here  and I can personally introduce you to my hiring manager.
So one of the Facebook groups that I am in is all about investing, for physicians specifically. There are a lot of physicians giving each other advice in this group, but one of the individuals whose response I always look for is Dr. Eric Tait's. He is a both an MBA and an MD (smart guy no doubt). I have even posed tax questions for my friends in this group for him to answer because he knows everything! Since I have always wanted to learn more about investing, entrepreneurship, and life in general, I just knew I wanted to learn more from him. Begin Interview: 1. Tell me a little about yourself, your journey, and what you do? – I am originally from Mount Vernon, NY, just outside New York City, I attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. where I studied biology. I came to Houston, Texas to go to Medical School at Baylor College of Medicine and Business School at Rice University for a dual degree M.D./MBA program. I realized in college that I wanted to do an M.D./MBA program, and my junior year I knew that Baylor and Rice were just creating their program. And with it being a new program if figured they probably would just accept my MCAT scores and I wouldn’t have to take the GMAT, and that is what happened. The reason I went to business school was twofold: 1) To understand the healthcare system and (2) to learn how to invest our own money. I was able to accomplish both but not necessarily in obvious ways.  The healthcare part is straightforward, but the investing part, not so much. What I didn’t realize was that business school basically teaches you to become an upper middle management cog in a machine with some sprinkling of entrepreneurship. And what they taught me about investing is that the stock market is supposedly safe and rational; it really isn’t, but we all just pretend that it is. With that, I decided that I did not want to invest the bulk of our hard-earned capital into the publicly traded stock and bond markets. So I went in search of other places to grow our money. If you look at most financially independent people in the world, they achieved their independence in either one of two ways 1) Private business ownership (non-service based) and/or 2) by owning real estate. Since I planned on being a practicing physician, I knew that I would not have the time to run an operating business, so that left real estate. My wife and I started to invest heavily in passive income generating real estate projects. And as we had success, many of our physician colleagues asked to join us. That is how we opened our personal investment company up to other physicians who wanted more control over their investments while creating passive income for themselves at the same time. 2. What was your motivation for creating Vernonville and ThePhysiciansroad.com? Can you tell us about each of those in detail? Vernonville Asset Management was created as our personal property management and investment firm. Because we knew that we were going to be investing in real estate and private businesses we set up our asset protection structures at the beginning of our investing journey. As we purchased more and more assets, Vernonville is the company that oversees all of the operations. So instead of investing in our names, we have used corporate structures to operate in a professional way. This made it very easy to allow outside investors to join us because we had already created our corporate structures. After accepting many physicians into our different investment funds, we had many of them come back to us for help with non-investing issues in their lives and careers. We realized that there is a much larger need to help physicians navigate their lives in the medical field. In many ways, we as physicians experience arrested development in our lives. We have been cloistered away since college trying to get into medical school, and then we spend the next 7 – 12 + years in a state of suspended animation somewhere between student and apprentice. After that point, we emerge into the world making a 6-figure salary with no guidance or instruction. So many of us have missed some of the maturation and experience milestones that our non-physician friends take for granted. And it was at that point that we realized that we failed to transmit WHY we invested the way that we did. Our why was that we wanted to have the flexibility and freedom to practice medicine on our own terms. We didn’t want to be controlled by the government or insurance companies in how we treated patients. We also didn’t want to practice medicine in an assembly line manner, with patient after patient being rushed through each visit to reach some arbitrary “productivity” goal. And while creating financial freedom through investing makes sense, it is only a means to an end, it is not THE end. The point is to create a meaningful life inside and outside of medicine. So we created The Physician’s Road to do just that for others. We opened our Rolodex and built a repository of information and resources to help physicians and healthcare professionals construct a life that they want to live. We call our process the 5 Paths to Happiness and Personal Fulfillment. Through our website resources and podcasts, we focus on 5 areas of life – Wealth, Professional Practice, Health, Relationships (with others), & Personal Development (relationship with yourself). With the end goal of having physicians feel that they are in control of their lives, even if we can’t control the structure of medicine. There’s a lot of talk about physician burn-out, but what I think most people do not understand is that we as physicians will not change the healthcare system as it is currently constructed. It is an external force, and all we can do as individuals is control our inner response. As such, our goal with the Physician’s Road is to guide doctors in how to construct a meaningful life where the profession of medicine is a PART of who we are, but not the totality of who we are.   3. Have you had experience in the financial industry before? That is an interesting question, we think of ourselves and our investment firm as financial strategists. When I hear “financial industry,” I think of Wall Street and the traditional financial services industry and we are definitely not that. What most people do not realize is that the people in the financial services industry are mostly glorified salespeople. They are not real investors, meaning they do not make their money from their own investing prowess, they make it by charging fees on your money. Most do not know how to actually run and operate a business. For them, it's about the fees and commission they can charge, not about what the individual investor is trying to achieve financially. Our experience as investors is in actually buying and operating assets, not charging fees to investors.   4. What do you see are the biggest challenges physicians face when trying to start their own businesses? How can physicians avoid this?   The challenges are not unique to physicians, but our profession and personality type may compound the difficulties. First off, starting a business, any business is hard. Let’s start there. Most will fail, and few will generate the types of incomes that we make just being physicians. So the first big challenge (not unique to physicians) is the lack of understanding that you are there to serve your customers in the way that they want to be served and not yourself. The next big thing is accurately identifying WHO your customer is and what problem you are looking to solve for them. Next is underestimating the time and training that it takes to learn these two things, and this is hard for practicing physicians because time is such a precious commodity for all of us. Then there is something that I think is way too prevalent amongst the physician population and that is the Superman/woman syndrome that says no one can do it better than we can. That manifests in us trying to do everything ourselves instead of building a team of experts and paying them to teach us or hiring them to do it for us. It’s one of the worst traits that I see, and it contributes to burn out because dreams go deferred and frustration sets in when things aren’t getting done or success is not being achieved. The way to avoid this is to learn how to build a team that is expert in what you are trying to accomplish and listen to their advice and delegate tasks to them. 4. What advice would you give to physicians who don’t go into residency and want to immediately start their entrepreneurial journey? Complete at least an intern year if you can so you can become a licensed physician even if you are not going to be board certified. To me, it doesn’t make sense to go through all that we went through and not be able to call yourself a practicing physician. It is the ultimate insurance policy and will open doors on the entrepreneurial side of the world. You can legitimately say that you worked clinically as a physician and it will give you invaluable experience that you can use in your entrepreneurial path. There is nothing worse than someone trying to solve problems from theory, never having dealt with real-life work issues as an adult. Now, if you cannot get a residency position, you can play to your strengths of science and medical terminology, but I highly recommend that you take classes in accounting (financial accounting to learn what an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement are), social media marketing, one on one sales, and how to raise capital. 5. What if a physician wanted to be an entrepreneur, but have no idea where to start. What’s the first step to starting a business?   To me, the first step in starting a business is determining what problem you want to solve with your business. So you are mapping 3 major things in the ideation phase of your business: What do you like to do? What are you qualified to do? Who will you do it for that is going to pay you a rate that you are happy to earn? It is at the intersection of these 3 things where you will find a business that you are passionate to run and fulfills you. Take as long as you need to figure these 3 things out because this is the most important part of determining if you will be happy AND successful in your business ventures. 6. Do you recommend finding a mentor? Do you have one and how did you find yours? I absolutely recommend finding a mentor. If you think about our clinical rotations and residency, it was one long apprenticeship under mentors.  But for some reason, physicians don’t seem willing to pay for mentorship or coaching once we become attendings. Personally, I have had or do have mentors in real estate investing, private business investing, podcasting, sales and marketing, public speaking, capital raising, and social media marketing to name a few. I chose mentors based on the skills that I need to develop to successfully operate our business.  I sought out people who had successfully done what I was trying to do, not just people who said they knew how to do it.  The biggest thing is ignoring the nay-sayers and finding people who support your dreams. There are always people who will criticize your plans, but they are really just projecting their own fears onto you. If there are other people successfully doing what you are wanting to do then it can be done. You must become the person who can do it. And that necessitates that you transform into a different version of yourself. And the only way to do that is to learn new skills and a new way of being, and the fastest path to that transformation is through a mentor. 7. It can be really overwhelming starting something brand new, what’s the best advice you can share with physicians thinking about, but feeling scared, about starting their own business? What’s the worst that could happen? That is always what I ask myself when thinking about starting a new project or business venture. Few things are as nerve-wracking or high stakes as being a physician. Most of what we deal with in business is not life or death. So what most people are actually afraid of is failure and the ego fear of being ridiculed by others.  You must decide if what you have to offer the world is worth more than protecting your ego from potential failure. The way I look at it is, either I succeed, or I learn, there is no failure. 8. Can our readers get in touch with you if they have questions? What’s the best way to contact you? Yes, of course. I can be reached at: Eric@vernonville.com www.vernonville.com http://thephysiciansroad.com/resources/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/thephysiciansroad/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-tait-m-d-mba-b2581a5/ https://twitter.com/PhysiciansRoad End Interview.
I admit, I've gotten pretty busy. Spring time is the busiest time of the year for me, in terms of work flow and conferences. So I've been slacking, but luckily for me, it's easy to pick up in the program where I've left off. Time to prep for the board exam! Here's some basic information on the exam in general: The board examination will be proctored by ProctorU, a company that utilizes your webcam with their program to ensure that you are taking the one taking the board examination and not cheating. The board examination costs is included with the program.  The board examination is stated to take around three hours and you have four attempts to take it. If you fail it the fourth time, you will need to wait a year before retaking the exam and, you will need to pay for it out of pocket (it is listed as 250.00 USD).   Now, I am a little nervous because I have not prepared for an examination nor taken one in a really long time. Not to mention, this material is entirely new to me, so learning many new technical terms in an industry I am totally unfamiliar with is challenging. The Prepping: There is a question bank to help you prepare. It looks like the questions are the same questions used at the end of the modules. There are also no explanations of why each answer choice is right or wrong (I find it helpful to know if I picked the right answer for the right reason). This was not entirely a bad thing though as it did get me to go through the modules, figuring out why I kept getting the question wrong. The question bank does not have a feature to create your own test from the questions though (the way USMLE World did, remember?). Because I am not applying to pharma jobs asap and really using this program as a way to gain exposure to the pharma industry, I have the luxury of taking my time with the program. I have read that some pharma companies require their MSLs to take the program and then must pass the board examination, so I am glad I do not have that urgency and expectation. My game-plan is to go through all the board exam questions multiple times. The first pass is to gauge my knowledge. I will then review questions I miss and go over the modules that go with them, then I will do the questions again, and repeat the process until I can get over 90% of the board exam questions correct.  Off to study...
Onto the second half of the modules. After the first half of the program, I felt a little bit overwhelmed with the materials, but usually my style of studying, is I like to go through all the materials, get a good idea of my landscape and then do review questions and go over the modules again through each question.  Honestly, I learned so much from the just first half of the program, but it was a lot of technical, nitty gritty information. Fingers crossed this second half will help put it all together and I can apply it clinically.  Let's go! Module 11: Abstract and Medical Writing This module was on medical writing and was extremely helpful. The ability to write scientific documents is critical to a role as a medical director, healthcare, and in pharma. I'm ashamed to admit, I have never had a formal class on how to write abstracts, despite having published several scientific papers myself.  Module 12: Publication Practices This module goes over the publication planning process, the purpose of publications, and Good Publications Practice guidelines. I found the area on "what substantiates authorship" to be especially interesting.  Module 13: Drug Development Process This module went over the steps from discovery of a drug to it hitting the marketplace. I learned that there were different types of applications for a drug and what needs to be included in the applications.  Module 14: Overview of Medical Information This module helped me understand the role of medical information and its position within medical affairs within the larger pharmaceutical organization. Medical information goes by many names, one of which I didn't know, was "Medical Services". This related back to how the earlier modules, like compliance affects medical information. I finally understood what medical affairs was (the bridge between commercial and clinical). This module started to put together the puzzle pieces for me. At the end of the first ten modules, I felt like I still was not sure about medical affairs, but this module pieced it together for me.  Module 15: Medical Science Liaisons and Field Based Medical Teams  Ohhh, it's all fitting together now! This module went into detail the core competencies, roles, and responsibilities of a medical science liaison. There are specific guidelines that affect MSLs and you go on to understand where MSLs fit into medical affairs and the pharmaceutical industry overall.  Module 16: Grant and Investigator-Initiated Study Funding and Process  As an MSL, you will be involved in the grant process and investigator-initiated studies in some way. This module goes over the types of grants, the process of grant approval, and the different aspects of investigator studies.  Module 17: Advisory Boards This module goes over the role of advisory boards, which members to be included, and regulations and compliance governing advisory boards.  Module 18: Phase IV/Post-Marketing Studies Post-marketing studies/phase IV studies is part of "pharmacovigilance". They deal with what happens after the drug is on the market.  Module 19:  Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) REMS deals with evaluating drug benefit versus risk. I always see the packet input with medications, but I honestly didn't know the regulations that go into them. This was very educational. Module 20: Medication Safety and Pharmacovigilance This module goes over adverse events with a drug. It was interesting and great to know there's quite a process that drug manufacturers have to go through to ensure safety of their drugs on market. I also understood more about roles in pharmacovigilance. Overall review: I have to admit, I enjoyed this second half of the modules a lot more than the first half, but the first half was very necessary in order to understand the second half. I finally understand what medical affairs, MSL, pharmacovigilance, and other similar terms really meant and how everything fits into the big picture.  It was still very convenient and easy to fit into my busy day. Pros: -The way these modules are set up makes a lot of sense and helps create a bigger picture, especially for someone like me with no experience or knowledge in pharma AT ALL. Perfect program for starting on the ground floor.  Cons: -I would have liked to have seen an example of a standard day in the life of an MSL or something to show me how an MSL puts all this knowledge together to carry out their daily functions.  -There is a ton of knowledge presented in all the modules, and I love to review material in my free time. I would have personally loved to be able to print out the modules and bind them into a notebook to carry around. But hey, I save a lot of trees by not doing that.  Overall, I am extremely happy I enrolled in the program because I know 1000x more than I knew two weeks ago. I honestly feel that I am already a better candidate for pharma roles than a lot of candidates without this knowledge. I'm really excited about where to go after this (and kind of scared because it's the board exam, lol). I know I can only build upon my foundation!  
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