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.
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.
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.
- “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.