Moving from medicine to entrepreneurship

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Medical professionals from all walks of life do incredible work every day — often saving lives, easing pain or providing comfort. But sometimes, even after the many years of training required to become licensed one might wish to leave the profession and try something completely different.

Swap the scrubs for a briefcase

There are a number of reasons why someone in the medical field might be drawn to entrepreneurship. One of the most obvious is that caregivers like nurses and doctors who are used to using traditional interventions to help patients may be inspired to develop their own commercial solution for a medical problem or gap they have discovered. It could be an idea for a new medical device or treatment, a mobile app cloud service, or a revolutionary approach to a standard procedure.

Take Justin Barad, co-founder and CEO of Osso VR, who has an MD from UCLA. The inspiration came to him during his residency when he saw the limitations of traditional surgical training. He was eventually able to combine his medical knowledge with a passion for gaming to create a business that uses virtual reality to provide 3D surgical simulations.

Related: 4 lessons learned on my journey to digital health entrepreneurship

Another reason for changing careers may be a desire to change your lifestyle or work schedule. Clinicians often tire 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 will likely involve more travel and the need to work on the go.

Personality and skills can also be factors. Caregivers who are particularly personable and truly adept at explaining complex medical concepts might find themselves courted by health-related companies that want the expertise of a clinician. Even big tech companies like and extend into and recruit doctors.

What entrepreneurial roles might suit a healthcare professional?

Some caregivers find the opportunity to found a start-up linked to their experience. It will probably be something they have been thinking about for some time, realizing that they just might be the right person, with the right qualifications and aspirations to start a new business.

It’s a good idea to partner with someone who already has a foothold in their business of interest, or at least has relevant connections, to help incubate an idea into reality. For example, Barad co-founded his company with a veteran game developer.

Related: Top 5 Health Tech Trends Set to Grow in 2022

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. They may be a great fit for a leadership position in a medical technology company, for example, where they could help develop products or services related to their medical training. Or they could be a great asset to a pharmaceutical company’s sales team, since customers and prospects will appreciate hearing from someone with life experience in the field.

To be a successful entrepreneur, changes in skills and mindset may be necessary. Seeking further education could be a wise decision. If that’s not possible, it may be helpful to take evening classes or online courses in areas that require work, such as public speaking, marketing, or business writing.

Beyond expanding skills, someone moving from the medical profession to business needs to make a big change in their way of thinking – and that involves becoming more comfortable with risk. A doctor, for example, may tend to be risk averse, as they should be, given the life-and-death stakes sometimes involved with patients. Entrepreneurs must be willing and ready to take calculated risks – this is how a business innovates and grows.

Related: 4 Trends in Millennials’ Approach to Healthcare

Begin

Before you give up those scrubs for good, there are plenty of ways to start dipping a toe into the entrepreneurial pool. Talk to people. Attend medical conferences and visit vendor booths to get a feel for what service providers and vendors are doing in the market. Share the solutions you have to the problems you face with others and see what they think. Ask about advances reported in medical journals, which can spark some good ideas.

Good medical and healthcare businesses don’t exist without the input of professionals with first-hand experience. Caregivers who go into business not only have the opportunity to explore rewarding second careers, but also have the potential to bring life-changing innovations to patients.

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