You may have an idea for a business you’d like to start, perhaps attracted by the prospect of controlling your time and work, chasing extra income, or fulfilling the dream of having an alternate career. Should you try turning your dream into reality—and if so, how?
Philippa Kennealy, MD, MPH, has guided hospitalists and other physicians along this path. She heads The Entrepreneurial MD, a Los Angeles-based coaching service for physicians who want to become more entrepreneurial with their practices or start a side business. She has a unique perspective on how physicians can add a satisfying second career to their practice of medicine. “I myself am a physician-entrepreneur,” says Dr. Kennealy.
Why Increase Workloads?
What makes busy hospitalists seek a side business? Why overload your schedule with the extra hours and responsibilities of running a business?
“It’s an opportunity to do something that feels creative, that gives you control,” explains Dr. Kennealy. “I feel that physicians don’t get to use creativity, and they don’t have much control. Their daily actions and decisions are quite regulated. Owning their own time is attractive to physicians. Hospitalists in particular are at it all day in the hospital.”
Is it really possible to continue to work as a hospitalist while shaping a second business? Yes—and others have done it.
“A lot of physicians dream of [entrepreneurship] but feel trapped by their existing time commitments,” says Dr. Kennealy. “But there are some who take the necessary steps, who carve out the time to do it. Many of them hook up with someone to form a partnership—often this is with a non-physician.”
Types of Endeavors
Some physicians are interested in a start-up business that goes hand in hand with their patient care; others may go in a completely different direction.
“There’s an enormous array of [physician-owned businesses] out there,” says Dr. Kennealy. “Many of my clients go into consulting, mostly within healthcare. Some have developed a software application that supports some aspect of healthcare.” Other physicians open health and wellness centers. One of Dr. Kennealy’s clients has developed a sculpting business and is ready to open her own gallery.
Lucia Ferreras-Cox, MD, works as an independent contractor in urgent care and hospital medicine while she runs her company, Ejerce Medecina USA, in Gilbert, Ariz. Ejerce offers Web-based training for Spanish-speaking physicians in other countries to help them pass the U.S. medical board review, then serves as a recruiting firm for those physicians once they get their U.S. licenses.
“I went back to business school for three months to refresh my skills,” says Dr. Ferreras-Cox, who previously had a pediatric practice. “I had to relearn—to learn that I was not a not-for-profit anymore.”