“I wanted to emulate what he did,” she says. Over time, she realized that “doctors have a lot of skills that are applicable to other endeavors.”
She and her husband, Joel Shlian, MD, MBA, also a former family medicine physician, fully gave up clinical practice about 10 years ago after doing it part time for a decade. The Shlians met as students at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1970. Initially, their new business concentrated on physician executive recruitment. As clients requested other services, the Shlians helped identify nonphysician managers as well. Clients included established, as well as start-up health plans, academic institutions, utilization review, and healthcare consulting companies.
Given the accelerated changes in healthcare delivery, earning a graduate education in business is not a quick and easy avenue to another career. “An MBA should never be viewed as the means to ‘get out of medical practice,'” Dr. Shlian says in her new book, “Lessons Learned: Stories from Women in Medical Management,” released this month by the American College of Physician Executives.
“In fact, I would submit that if you really hate clinical medicine, medical management is not for you,” she says. “It can be every bit as demanding and frustrating as clinical practice.”
Jeffrey N. Hausfeld, MD, MBA, FACS, completed an MBA program on evenings and weekends. After graduation in 2005, he gave up his 24-year practice of otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery. He continued his education by obtaining a graduate certificate in leadership coaching and organizational development. Then he became involved in the first of several business ventures, capitalizing on his clinical experience.
“Doctors don’t have a trusted partner to do their debt collections,” says Dr. Hausfeld, co-founder and treasurer of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs. His own negative experiences with debt-collection agencies contributed to his “understanding the obstacles and objections to create this kind of an entity.”
You are ready for transition when the new choice excites and energizes you, and not necessarily when your first choice disappoints you.
—Kulleni Gebreyes, MD, MBA, director of healthcare consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McLean, Va.
Hence the emergence of FMS Financial Solutions, based in Greenbelt, Md. “This seemed to be a very natural fit for me,” says Dr. Hausfeld, who is the managing director. By collecting money owed to physicians, hospitals, and surgical centers, he has increased the revenues of his business fourfold since 2006. The company has 24 full- and part-time workers.
Meanwhile, his son, Joshua, who joined him in the healthcare MBA program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and now works for an investment banking firm that provides real estate loans for senior housing, introduced Dr. Hausfeld to a group of Midwest-based assisted-living-facility developers. Four years ago, they struck a deal to provide private equity funding and create Memory Care Communities of Illinois, with Dr. Hausfeld serving as president. The 24-hour residential facilities are home to patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
To some degree, he misses practicing medicine, but Dr. Hausfeld is enthusiastic about making a difference in even more people’s lives than he did as a physician and surgeon.
“I’ve done 10,000 ear, nose, and throat operations. If I did 1,000 more, how much would I be changing the world?” Dr. Hausfeld says. Ultimately, “you find a way to leave a bigger footprint.”
His entrepreneurial spirit has led to other consulting roles. For instance, he is trying to help two startup companies—one in the medical device arena, the other in information technology—grow by leaps and bounds.