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Potential Job Opportunity – Interview With A Medical Startup

Starting On The Ground Floor Of A Medical Startup

I’ve been routinely reviewing job listings online and recently came across one with potential. This is a startup company that’s reinventing telemedicine, focusing on creating an interactive platform where the patient and doctor can interact with each other without the need of charting by the physician later. There is more to it but this is what I can share for now.

The person interviewing me was the COO and they are talking to 200+ physician applicants for only a handful of positions. The company is still in the infant stages but in a few months they are going to launch live patient care. Their backing is impressive, I doubt they would have any financial problems in the near future with their business model.

This business is being developed by a few entrepreneurs with no medical training. They rely on bringing in docs who understand technology,  have a good grasp of the business side of medicine and can be leaders in their specific roles. They are looking for physicians who can handle the clinical aspect with ease and are able to communicate effectively with the C-level executives of the company.

This interview helped me pinpoint my strengths and weaknesses as I search for the next chapter in my work-life. I learned that I have gotten much better at selling myself and I do a decent job interviewing. Being able to communicate clearly, calmly and control the speed at which I talk and how loud/quiet I am makes a surprising difference. It’s hard to stand out from 200 other MD/DO’s, every little bit counts.

I am also glad that I kept updating my resume throughout the years, adding things as basic as supervising PA’s mattered more than I thought. At the same time I have failed to add in other important things I’ve done; more on that later.

Large medical groups have made getting hired easy for us primary care folk and even for many specialists. What I learned during this interview is that these startup guys have a whole lot more on the line and expect far more skills from their first few employees than say a large medical group who sometimes just needs warm bodies to wear white coats.

The first few employees in such organizations cannot just do specific tasks, they are expected to be great at giving feedback, training future employees and helping lead the direction of the startup.

I made the first round of interviews which means I made it to the initial 200. The next set of interview will be later this week and I got the impression that I will get invited to that. They will dwindle it down to just a few docs who will be interviewed by their medical consultants.

I found this interesting. This medical startup is paying good money to a couple of doctors who will help them build up their company; developing their medical algorithms and interviewing potential MD/DO hires. This made me realize that there is definitely a need for such consulting physicians.

Is this the kind of medicine I want to practice?

I was able to have a few of my questions answered and so far I’m impressed. It appears that they are aware that controlled medications and antibiotics can easily be mishandled by patients and providers, so they are sensitive to this when structuring the business model. Nor do I get the feeling that they think virtual medicine can replace an in-person visit.

I am definitely on board when it comes to telemedicine but I am just as excited about getting in on the ground floor of such a startup. A part of me is worried as to whether I can handle whatever might be demanded of me but isn’t that what I’m looking for, a little adventure and something new?

What I learned from doing this interview

The traditional market of large medical groups is here to stay, no doubt about that. And interviewing with them will remain impersonal and unless there is something majorly disturbing on your resume you will likely get picked up by them as an employee.

Starting out with a bigger group can be beneficial for the support, the training and the ease of entry. The higher incomes and job satisfaction however won’t be with these larger groups unless you climb high up the leadership ranks. Instead it will be these startup companies, private medical groups or possibly even your own business where the highest dollars will be paid for your expertise.

I learned that I am good at interviewing but that I still need practice selling myself better. Doing a confident job answering questions is important but being able to ask leading questions allows the interviewer to get more insight into you as a person.

I realized that I don’t know much about the startup world. The COO who interviewed me was talking about venture capital and large players in the health technology field of which I knew very little. At one point he asked me a few questions about the business side of medicine regarding incorporations of which I knew nothing – adding that to my reading list.

I learned that mastering my medical skills is the minimum that’s expected of me the higher up I want to climb. Sure, in the large medical groups if you are even halfway decent you will be considered stellar, get pats on your back and be offered leadership roles. In the private world, especially the startup world, you will need many more diverse skills.

I was asked what my entrepreneurial skills entailed. I threw in that I owned an auto mechanic shop but in retrospect that wasn’t enough. What the interviewer was asking was how much and what specifically I knew regarding sales and marketing, how well I could work with colleagues and whether I could design workflow algorithms.

My resume needs a LOT of work still. There are things I have done which haven’t made it onto my resume. I have experience in HR, I have experience running department meetings, I can do public speaking and I am halfway decent when it comes to writing… why wouldn’t I mention these?

Digging further into my resume I realize that I have not pursued anything outside of medicine in a long time. For example, I could be taking online courses to advance my knowledge regarding medical legislature, medical-legal science, improved patient interaction skills, time management courses etc. I’ll be focusing on these things next – it’s all part of my new transition.

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