Melbourne Social Enterprise Pioneers Model: Giving Through Medical Education

First published July 26, 2017

There are many ways to give through your business or startup.

Who knew that by educating yourself for your fellowship exams, you are also helping by giving to those less fortunate? 

PhysEd gives you this sense of purpose.

                

Two Melbourne medical doctors decided to give through their medical education company, PhysEd, a two-week intensive preparation course for doctors preparing for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ Basic Physician Training Written Exam.

         

Inspired by ethicist Peter Singer’s book and organisation, The Life You Can Save, PhysEd gives 5% of revenue to charity, donating over five figures in its first year. The specialty exams are a gruelling time in any doctor’s life, and attending a course has statistically shown to improve your chance of passing. Having gone through the exams themselves, the founders know the high standards expected of course speakers and exam candidates. With this in mind, PhysEd incorporates a practical, immersive approach to multiple-choice question preparation, including a weekend MCQ intensive midway through the course, and high-quality, experienced presenters from many of Melbourne’s top teaching hospitals.

Let’s face it- going through the exams is a very competitive, self-focused time, spanning over two years of doctors’ lives, which can take away from the meaning of medicine- to give to others who need your knowledge. Medicine is about giving, yet, the competitive environment of training and striving to be your best on that one exam day can sap away one’s energy and original sense of purpose for medicine. PhysEd’s giving model helps you feel that you’re not alone- your studying is not in vain, just for your own score and knowledge – it’s helping others, including companies such as Medicins Sans Frontieres and Against Malaria.

To find out more and register, including a free, fully-equipped doctors’ briefcase for the Part 2 exams with full registration(!), head to physed.com.au

For an inspiring book from a pioneering social entrepreneur, read our review of TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie’s book here

Photo credits: physed.com.au

Book Review: “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Founder

First published July 20, 2017

This book is a must-read.

 

Pic: themedicalstartup.com

Most of you would have heard of TOMS. Many of you perhaps own a pair or two. There’s a fascinating story behind it.

 

Blake Mycoskie is known for pioneering the One-for-One retail model, where a company gives something for every item that’s sold. In TOMS’ case, that’s a pair of shoes to a community in need for every pair of TOMS sold around the world.

Blake was inspired after taking a brief sabbatical from his former startup (and after “The Amazing Race” in America). As many startup founders (and healthcare workers!) discover, it’s hard to switch off. Early into his trip to Argentina, he was struck by the number of children walking barefoot on the hot roads, because their families couldn’t afford to purchase shoes. Blake goes into detail about his early days finding a local shoemaker in Argentina; working out the supply chain without having fashion experience; hiring his first interns; and how they spread the word about TOMS. Since then, TOMS has grown into a multimillion-dollar company, and Blake has created a venture fund for social entrepreneurs to help others create good from their companies.

Other companies such as Warby Parker for eyeglasses have found success with a for-profit model of giving. Many people believe that non-profits are more subject to instability, being reliant upon donations and philanthropy. It could be argued that social enterprise is a more sustainable business model long-term, where a social enterprise is defined as a for-profit business that serves to do good as its core mission.

With “Start Something That Matters,” Blake shares his thoughts from TOMS’ journey, and gives actionable tips on how you can do the same. A very inspiring and uplifting read, including case studies from other companies.

What other books have inspired you? Share your best recommendations below. 

Celebrate Crazy Socks for Docs Day on June 1st

First published June 1, 2017

“June 1st. #CrazySocks4Docs. But not just for Docs only. This day is for nurses, dentists, pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians, speech pathologists, audiologists, respiratory therapists, anaesthesia techs, paramedics, medical students, veterinarians and all other specialties that work in the health care industry for patients. Doctors are dying by their own hands. The overall physician […]”

via Crazy Socks for Docs — Dr Eric Levi

Thank you to Dr Eric Levi for your articles on your blog, which recently relate to physician suicides and the challenges we face as healthcare workers in a challenging industry.

Embrace your personality and your colleagues’ health this June 1st. Wear odd socks

Breaking The Boundaries You’ve Set Yourself: Thoughts and Events To Inspire Your Tech Journey

First published May 28, 2017

 

How do you learn about tech as an outsider?

For awhile, before The Medical Startup became an idea, I was toying with creating something in tech.

I was a full-time doctor in a Melbourne hospital, spending all my spare time studying for fellowship.

When you’re at that stage in your career, you’re usually facing another four to six years of focusing on fellowship full-time.

I was surrounded by peers who were working towards the same goal.

It was all we knew at that time. We’d forgotten what life was like pre-training, it was deemed a “waste” if you paused for breath, and it took a long, long time to learn to breathe above water again.

So it seemed impossible.

But when you start to act towards those “strange” goals, the world opens up beyond anything you’d imagine. 

Attending events and online webinars helped tremendously. I was surrounded by others who were teaching themselves, too.

I started learning how to adapt to new environments, even more new than running a Code Blue at 3am.

I started learning the lingo of life outside of medicine.

And the love of learning I have for medicine sustained me through this journey, too.

So here’s a thought for the next time you’re thinking, “I can’t do this” or “It’s impossible, I have no background in this area.”

Think laterally about what you’re telling yourself.

Is it really impossible?

 

You’re not just a doctor.

You’re a woman in tech.

You’re not just a nurse.

You’re a father of three.

You’re not just a clinician who sees patients one by one at scheduled appointments at your clinic.

You’re facilitating their wellness beyond their current condition. How they are at home, at work, at the shops and their daily lives.

You have to stop thinking of yourself as a single job description. 

Otherwise, when you’re stuck, how will you remember who you are again?

Think about those who have the courage to uproot countries and settle in a new culture, starting from scratch with their careers again. Often, their degrees aren’t recognised at their new home.

Or think of those who graduate from one degree, then use their determination and self-belief (even when it’s down) to apply to study post-graduate medicine or another degree.

Don’t underestimate yourself.

We’re all learning, after all.

And that shiny, suited person speaking up on the big stage? They had to start somewhere, too. 

This is literally just a random post after reflecting on recent events and conversations. You have to normalise curiosity and your hunger for knowledge. 

Thinking about it, there are a ton of events coming up around the world that may help you along your journey; I’ll list them below. Perhaps you’ll find some of them useful, too.

A couple are med tech, but most are actually more general and will help you learn the vibe and get comfortable in the tech and entrepreneurship worlds, too.

Who knows what new friends you’ll make, and what skills and knowledge you’ll bring back to your usual lives? You’ll almost certainly realise that you already know more about tech than you thought you did.

Be inspired.

Let me know in the Comments or by email if you have been or end up going to any, and how you enjoyed it/what you took away from it. I’m also speaking at an AMA leadership event tomorrow, aimed at junior doctors but hopefully useful for others, too.

Below:

  • The Sunrise Conference” by Blackbird Ventures in Sydney. One of Australia’s most renowned tech venture capital firms. (Last year it was streamed online; here are a couple of tips we took from some of the talks.)

  • The Melbourne Accelerator Program Launch Party 2017. Last year, two Melbourne digital health startups founded by doctors were part of the program. Nebula Health and CNSDose have both benefited hugely from MAP, with Nebula now partnering with hospitals and surgeons, and CNSDose breaking ground as part of Texas Medical Center’s Innovation program.

  • General Assembly, a tech education company running coding bootcamps, one-day workshops and even two-hour events across their centres in Australia, Asia, the US and UK. Visit generalassemb.ly to find your nearest centre and see what’s available. I’ve found their events very helpful.

  • HIC, Australia’s premier health informatics (digital health) conference, run by HISA, the Health Informatics Society of Australia. It’ll be in Brisbane in August, and I’ll be presenting as part of the UX (User Experience) workshop, along with others interested in digital health. I really recommend joining HISA, HiNZ, HIMSS (including their APAC branch), COACH (Canada) or other organisations as a way to get access to valuable resources, networks and skills for eHealth.

  • COACH, Canada’s annual health informatics event early June.

  • HIMSS Asia-Pacific Summit, in Singapore in September. (As a member of HiNZ, you also get full automatic membership to HIMSS Asia-Pacific.)

  • HiNZ, which we wrote about last year; it’ll be in Rotorua this year.

  • The Global Ideas events in Melbourne, inspiring global health innovators with skills including tech and human-centred design thinking. (Read about founder Dr Lloyd Nash’s journey here.)

  • Vogue Codes, an Australian event running in Sydney and Melbourne in August aiming to inspire more women to take up careers in STEM. Speakers include the founders of ClassPass and Shoes of Prey as well as female members of Australia’s startup and tech communities. Being a woman in STEM who loves fashion and the arts, (even if I don’t look the part!), this event really speaks to me, knowing that although society places us into simplistic career boxes (“Medicine!” “Science!” “Engineer!” “Designer!”), we’re much more than just a “science person” or “arty person” 100% of the time.

  • Vivid Sydney’s Ideas program, coming up this week.

  • Girl Geek Academy, an Australian organisation aiming to educate 1 million girls and women in tech by 2025. It also has events in the US.

Doctors, You’ll Never Be Good Enough- And That’s Okay

First published May 12, 2017

Like many in the medical world, I’ve been deeply saddened by the suicide of a Brisbane gastroenterologist, the father of four children, the husband of a loving wife.

I don’t know them personally, but am touched by the email that his wife wrote and son sent online- which has triggered a flood of goodwill from his patients (the Facebook comments on the CourierMail post are so heartening) and from other health professionals and members of the public, who, like me, may not have known him personally, but felt devastated by this very unnecessary loss.

So what can we do? How do we stop others from thinking the only way out is suicide?

What’s the worst that could happen if you choose NOT to die?

 

Your patients may be looked after by other colleagues, or will find other specialists.

 

Your family will be concerned and worried about you, but they will be happier that you’re taking time to recover.

 

Your colleagues will most likely be concerned about you too, not mean-spirited. (If they are, why choose to work with them or choose to listen to them? What do they know about who you really are?)

 

Maybe part of it is our fear of delegating responsibility for our patients to others when we’re too crushed or sick to continue. Handover is so complex- even more as a consultant in private practice for many years. You would have built strong relationships with some of your patients who’ve grown with you; with your staff; with your routine. You would know their test results and the dates of their treatments off by heart.

 

And of course, when a patient dies, it is never easy.

 

Just because you’ve dealt with a patient’s demise or deterioration over and over again during the years, it doesn’t mean your feelings will be bulletproof forever.

 

And then, you also may fear delegating the responsibility of your struggles to others, to psychologists, to counsellors, to psychiatrists, or to a friend who’s a listening ear.

You’re good at curing patients. Why can’t you cure yourself?

You’re feeling enormous responsibility. Why burden others with that terrible weight?

 

There’s so much blame in medicine. We constantly want to be better. It’s the mark of a true professional, a craftsperson even in other professions. You want to better yourself.

 

But even doctors are only human.

 

Maybe we think it’s the absolute end, there’s no way out if we step back for a few days, weeks, months, years- it’s too terrifying at that moment to deal with the enormity of a future you don’t know.

 

We try too hard to control our futures and our patients’ futures, but as doctors and health professionals, and even startup founders, even we can’t control everything.

 

Maybe it’s time to recognise that and embrace it as something positive we can learn to live with.

But don’t do it alone.

Please seek help, no matter what your journey is.

Condolences and respects to Dr Bryant and his family. 

People may look like they’re doing okay on the outside, but are actually screaming for help inside. Please be kind to each other and ask directly, “are you okay?” 

Some useful sites/resources in Australia if you’re seeking help or contemplating suicide:

– Lifeline

– BeyondBlue

– Mens HelpLine

– Mindful in May

– R U OK? suicide prevention

– Victorian Doctors Health Program (please reach out even if you’re not living in the state, people are always happy to suggest other resources)

– your GP

– a psychologist

– a counsellor

– the AMA, which has other links to Drs4Drs which lists resources for Doctors in each State/Territory, and other sites; and the Australasian Doctors NetworkAustralasian Doctors Network which advocates for doctors’ health.

– Online video calls to a psychiatrist (you’ll need a GP referral but it is bulk billed)

– Lysn, a provider of online video calls to a psychologist

– your work’s Employee Assistance Program (many public and private companies including public hospitals in Australia, possibly in your country too, offer this free confidential service through external providers. The RACP also offers this, and probably other fellowship colleges do, too. Don’t be afraid to ask your HR or Workforce managers about this; it’s your right as an employee, and they are human, too, and know everyone goes through stuff.)

Feel free to list other resources you’ve found helpful below in the Comments. 

 

You + Career ≠ Self Worth

First published March 19, 2017

 

It’s devastating to hear of yet another young doctor suicide in Australia.

As the papers report, the 4th known in 6 months; probably many more unreported.

That doesn’t include the statistics for other healthcare professionals in Australia, or of those who work within healthcare; and of course, those from non-healthcare professions, too.

We don’t know the victims personally, and we’re not going to pretend we know their story.

But we know our own stories.

The pressure of our careers and perfectionism in the age of Instagram is higher than ever, and we want to remind everyone:

Your career is not your value as a person.

We know it.

And we can give advice on how things can change in the healthcare profession.

Because, this may not surprise you, these exact same issues crop up in the startup world, too. 

 

The same exacting degree of impossible high standards. 

Being the top one percent of the cream of the crop. 

Feeling like you have to beat and compete with that top percent of the cream of the crop. 

Congratulating yourself for pushing through 100 hour work weeks or more without a break, week on week.

Being made to feel ashamed when you try to enjoy your Sunday off but have hours of lectures to catch up on.

Being told by senior bosses and advisors that “we’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve pushed through insane hours at the risk to our health and our relationships, too.”

The thing is, thirty years down the track, the seniors in various professions may have neglected to realise the impact that social media and digital devices have on all industries and their workers.

We’re constantly surrounded by information overload.

Our email inboxes keep filling.

Those Tweets keep flowing in.

Our patients demand the best, and we are doing our best within our limited neural networks. 

Peer pressure scorns you when you haven’t published enough papers.

Your brain and body work best when you have enough rest.

We have to accept that we can never know everything. 

We’re not perfect.

And despite the external factors set to validate “success,” we have to remember we’re able to set our own internal values. 

We’ve been in the undergraduate medical class where people sneered at Mindfulness and Resilience training.

We’ve been there when we were too scared to call in sick despite being sick with gastro, because we’re worried our colleagues will think we’re too “soft” or faking it.

We’ve seen colleagues return to work when they’re still having gastro, risking hospital outbreaks, because they are the only Registrar on call that weekend in a major city hospital, and their bosses don’t get paid for stepping in for them.

You feel pressured to return to work before you’re well, too.

Yet other colleagues make it difficult for the workplace to trust your cohort, because when they call in sick, they’re pictured at festive events the same day they were meant to work.

We’ve been told we’re worthless by Directors of Training, despite studying and working at the cost of seeing loved ones when they needed us.

We’ve cried through weekends off because they were never really “off” when you had to study, study, and study for fellowship.

We were told by Colleges and work paraphernalia to look after yourself and seek help.

When we tried to do more sport or see friends, we had the opportunity cost of less time for study group.

We were told we didn’t want it badly enough, and we knew that was bull.

Yet it’s never enough.

There’s always going to be someone who says you’re too “soft” or worse.

You have to learn to tune them out.

You have to know what’s important to yourself.

What happens if you do achieve that goal you’re seeking? Will it really make you happy? Or will it more likely unlock another list of far-reaching career accomplishments you’ll need to add to your LinkedIn?

You have to accept that the only thing you can be perfect at is being YOU. 

Being the one who your aunts and childhood friends call on your birthday.

The one who gets to hold your nephew.

The one who gets to laugh at your partner’s jokes.

The one who bakes the best cake in the family.

Who were you before you started your degree?

What interests did you enjoy along with medicine or your profession?

What did you do to relax?

If the answer’s “Nothing!” to all of that, you can still start something now.

Did you ever talk to anyone outside of work about your problems?

The strongest thing you can do is find someone.

Your problems are NEVER too small to share with someone who cares or is trained to help. 

Lifeline, Beyond Blue, a counsellor, psychologist, a GP, the Victorian Doctors’ Health Program– they’re all there to help you.

Most major workplaces including hospitals, manufacturing factories, corporations, and so forth- have an Employee Assistance Program or similar where staff can access free, confidential counselling sessions.

You can go to the other side of town or chat over the phone, and not let it be known to anyone in your workplace or fellowship college.

You may not click with that counsellor or listener immediately, but persist – or try someone else. It’s not personal. The counsellor relationship doesn’t have to be perfect immediately.

Try something new. The brain loves novelty. Attend an acting class. An illustration class. A free yoga session on the beach. Be anonymous. Challenge yourself to step out from what you know. That one-hour break at the new yoga session could be exactly what you need to feel reinspired.

Call a friend you haven’t seen since school. It’s amazing how similar our paths are, despite differences in uni degree (or lack of- and it’s incredible what lives people can build for themselves without a college or uni diploma!). The same stressors. The same feelings of lack of self-worth in any industry.

A key reason why we started this blog was to inspire others about healthcare and entrepreneurship. Because those skills and these stories of real people who have hit rock bottom before career success, can be used by you, too. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re medical or not.

At the crux of it, you’re doing whatever you do because you want to do good.

And doing good (and being well enough to do this) involves taking risks.

You’re thinking like an entrepreneur if you take a risk and decide to take time out from training.

You’re thinking like a startup founder by deciding to apply for a paid Biodesign Fellowship overseasinstead of following the PhD route the majority are taking.

You’re a risk-taker if you decide to apply for a Google prize through your PhD.

You’re creative by founding a cancer app combining clinicians’ and patients’ needs instead of waiting a few years to finish training before starting to make an impact.

And you’re a champion if you’re learning to deal with your fears

Both the medical and startup worlds must learn to be kind to their own. 

But while they’re learning how to do so (and it’s really not that hard to be nice), refuse to be a victim. 

You are in control of your actions.

Be yourself. Be passionate about being your best self, in medicine or any tribe you’re connected to.

And allow yourself to receive kindness from others.

You’re not alone.

Help can be found in Australia from many sources including Lifeline (13 11 44), BeyondBlueBlack Dog Institute, the Victorian Doctors’ Health Program, and your GP. Please comment below if you have more resources to share including outside Australia.
There is also a
donation fund set up in honour of a recent doctor-suicide victim.
Thank you for reading this. 

Book Review: Programming Your Mind For Success Through “She Means Business” by Carrie Green

First published March 15, 2017

 

We came across Carrie Green and The Female Entrepreneur Association via Facebook awhile ago. Having benefited from being a part of their community, and having experienced Carrie’s work firsthand, it was a delight to see that her book is now available worldwide.

 

Carrie’s book “She Means Business” is available at Australian and international bookstores as well as online. Pic: The Medical Startup

We gain a lot of medical startup lessons from other industries, and Carrie has built an industry-agnostic community based on her experiences as a sole female founder of a tech company. She did this while studying Law in the UK, creating a mobile phone-unlocking business back in the pre-smartphone era. She taught herself how to build a website, and showed how just launching (even when she felt the website wasn’t that attractive) helped her business progress faster. (“Done is better than perfect” in many cases!) According to “She Means Business,” her business turned over $50,000 a month. But she was unhappy, and realised meaning was missing from her life.

 

 

After several months of personal exploration, Carrie realised her mission was to empower female business owners worldwide, and to connect with others sharing her experiences. It’s well-known that women (generally speaking) connect in business differently to men. Sheryl Sandberg covers great ground in her book “Lean In” about those differences, and how women and men can support each other in their journeys to leadership and fulfilment. Carrie uses her own personality and lessons from exploring the mindset of business success to empower over 100,000 women across the world, now generating more than $90,000 a month in revenue through the Female Entrepreneur Association.

Yet, it takes time to build a success. Carrie says it took five years for this revenue target to be achieved. She mentions that as recently as 2012, the FEA was growing, but was not financially sustainable. Being frank about these realities helps readers remember that we’re all human, and that time is the biggest investment in a successful life, no matter what success means to you – financially, spiritually, or otherwise. And because we’re all limited by time, what would you most want to spend your greatest asset working on?

The Female Entrepreneur Association differs from other business groups by focusing first and foremost on Mindset. The Mindset of Success and empowering your self-talk is what will get you through the hard times; the moments of self-doubt; the crippling anxiety of “will it fail?,” and the push to quit versus persist. Carrie shares her many tools and tricks, which you’d normally have to pay a monthly Member’s fee for access to, in a very readable and enjoyable book, written in her warm, conversational voice. For men who are thinking this book isn’t for them, Carrie reveals that many of the mindset tools she’s equipped with come from her dad’s books and audio collection. Her dad even sent Carrie and her siblings (brothers and sister!) to classes on resilience and positive thinking when they were kids. Carrie speaks often, including on TEDx, about “programming your mind for success,” and while reading this book, you’ll realise that your greatest tool for startup success is your mind.

Purchasing the book also unlocks a 28-day “She Means Business” challenge, with actions guided by Carrie throughout the book as well as bonuses online.

Purchase “She Means Business” through Amazon or Book Depository.  

*note: affiliate links in this article- we may earn commission from the bookseller.

Ask Yourself Why

First published January 12, 2017

Why are you doing this?

Why are you studying medicine?

Why are you working in healthcare?

Why are you wanting to change healthcare?

Why are you unhappy with the way things are right now?

If you’re stuck, no matter what journey you’re going through, it’s crucial to ask yourself your reasons for doing this.

I’ve realised that your “Why” is not just a short sentence that’s slipped into your pitch deck as neatly as your shirt is pressed.

Although by necessity you should keep your “Why” brief and memorable in your pitch deck or CV’s mission statement.

Your true “Why” encompasses more than that.

Your “Why” is a journey of growth, of exploration and maturity.

Your “Why” may change as your learnings  evolve over time.

You may have several “Whys” to contend with in your head. Some may remain the same, others will be shooting ahead at lightning speed.

That’s all okay.

I’ve been absolutely amazed at the conversations that have opened up from starting my blog, and new friendships. And I’ve realised that blogging has helped me connect with others in and out of healthcare figuring out their why.

I love helping others figuring out their why.

Your “why” can consist of both action or inaction at a point in time, and that’s okay.

You don’t have to shout out your reasons to the world. As long as you’re honest with yourself, you can start to move forward with purpose.

I was incredibly lucky to spend time travelling to one of the most culturally significant places in Australia, and catch up with family and friends over the festive season.

It was a hectic year. I learnt so much about healthcare, the startup world and about myself during that year.

I learnt what works for me, and what doesn’t.

I learnt to trust myself.

I learnt to speak up.

I learnt that my life is different from everybody else’s, and my decisions will reflect that, even if they don’t make sense to others.

And these are things that you will learn, or have learnt already, as you journey through your healthcare or startup adventure.

Leave a comment below, or contact me if you want to share what your why is at the moment, or what your why is for your journey through 2017.

Thanks for reading :) 

Career Articles Need To Include Options For People in Training – Launching Our Jobs Board

First published October 14, 2016

 

Pleased to announce that we’re launching our Jobs & Opportunities Board.

Was just reading an article in a prominent Australian medical journal, featuring a young Australian medical specialist who’s completed her training. She is now a mum and somehow fits in time to paint, cook and travel as well as practice in her chosen specialty.

It is a very nice article, and we enjoyed reading about this woman. But we feel like there’s a gap in career articles about medical doctors (and other professionals) who are in the midst of training.

Life happens.

How can you make a difference in your life, now?

How can you do something meaningful with medicine while you’re still in training?

 

How do others fit it all in? 

Our interviews with psychiatrist Dr Gregory SamGP Dr Nelson Lau, and medical physician Dr Lloyd Nashhelp to shed light on how they did it. We will also be featuring professionals at various stages of their careers, and students who are not waiting till tomorrow to create impact in healthcare today.

We’ll feature people at a wide range of ages, life stages, and career accomplishments.

And we’ll share opportunities for you to make a difference even before you finish your exams and other assessments and get awarded your letters, which may be many years down the track.

So if you have a job, volunteer opportunity or other option that might interest a worldwide network of readers, visit our Jobs page and Contact Us.