Interviewing With A Medical Startup – Round 2
The reason I am putting up these posts is because I think some doctor somewhere down the road is going to find themselves in a similar situation and gonna want to pursue something other than the mundane clinic care that we’ve all done. I’m trying to leave a road map, some bread crumbs and share the things I goofed and the thins I did well.
I got the second interview! I’m quite excited to have made it this far because these folks are pretty picky apparently. They started with 200, 40 got interviews with their consulting physician, 12 seem to have made it to the finals and they are picking exactly 3. I’m assuming that I’m still part of the 40, giving me a 7% chance all things equal.
The call had 5 people on the line, it was a little hard to figure out who was who but I spent the majority of the time talking to the consulting doctor, we’ll call him Dr. P.
He started out by asking me why I went into medicine and what my path was. I gave the usual spiel of getting exposed to the hospital setting, then liking the sciences, applying and getting into UCLA Medical School, then trying to choose between surgery and medicine and finally settling on family medicine. I described how I felt too time-pressured in family medicine and so I chose urgent care medicine.
What Are Your Strengths And Your Weaknesses?
Then he asked what my strengths were and weaknesses in relation to clinical care and in relation to the various specialties. I’ll admit that these sort of questions aren’t my favorite, I feel like it’s easy to fudge them. I listed my strengths as:
- good sense of humor
- working quickly through patients
- getting good patient satisfaction scores
- practicing evidence based medicine
- avoiding unnecessary testing and medication prescriptions
I listed the following weaknesses:
- I feel frustrated with drug-seeking patients at times
- I give into prescribing antibiotics when I’m tired or feel stressed
- some patients feel dismissed by me likely because I sometimes rush through the patient-visit
As for the specialties that I’m strong in and those that I’m weak in … that was a tough question, never thought about it. I mentioned ortho, derm and medicine as my strengths and I listed OB and psych as my weaknesses.
He expressed interest in the kind of telemedicine I was practicing, how much experience I had and how many patients I saw on that platform in a given week. I think he was satisfied with my level of experience.
He was interested in how I kept up with medical knowledge and he apparently uses the same resources so we connected on that point. I mentioned Journal Watch and Up To Date as my main ways of staying informed.
The higher up you go the nicer people get
I want to stop here for a moment and mention that he was an absolute delightful person to talk to. His voice was calm, he was kind and he expressed genuine interest in me as a person. He has carved out a very interesting niche for himself which makes him a bit of an one-and-only go-to person. I am repeatedly learning that the higher up I climb the food ladder, those with the highest credentials and highest positions have amazing people-skills that seem quite genuine.
A part of me is jaded by the cock-blocking attendings and residents or even bosses and supervisors that I’ve had during my career. I must be going in the right direction because I’m meeting kinder and more interesting people as I continue on this path.
The 2 cases i Got tested with
This next part was funny. He gave me a case scenario while the others on the phone were listening… that didn’t make me nervous at all, surprisingly.
50 yo male calls you about a rash below his belly button, near hit belt buckle. It's a little scaly and it's been itching. He also mentions that for the past day he has had a very intense and persistent headache. And while he is telling me the story he is excessively out of breath, panting with every few words trying to catch his breath.
I paused for a moment and chuckled and called him out on it. I told him that this was the craziest case I’ve ever encountered but I appreciated him trying to test my skills. He laughed.
I pretended the patient was on the other line and started going down the list. I focused on the SOB first and tried to delineate the past medical history, how long it’s been there for and whether it could be from something as simple as the patient having recently climbed a bunch of stairs. Dr. P appreciated that I tried to focus on the SOB without trying to delve into the other complaints. He also expressed praise for me trying to manage or investigate the SOB further instead of simply telling the patient to call 911.
I rocked the first case even though I thought it was a toughy.
The next case was a woman with dysuria and urgency. Classic UTI symptoms basically and what he was trying to get from me was whether I would try to consider a good differential diagnosis and whether I could recognize complicated vs uncomplicated UTI and manage it without prescribing unnecessary antibiotics.
I did pretty well on this second case but without distinctly expressing it he was hoping that I would also call the patient for follow up in the next 1-2 days to see if the patient had improved symptoms. That’s fair.
He completed the interview by asking me what I wanted to do down the road with my career. This was a tough question because that’s something I am still figuring out. I was quite honest, mentioning that I had cut back on clinical medicine to see if I can find something new and different that would excite me. I expressed that seeing 5 patients an hour is no longer a passion of mine.
I think I did well with this last part, he shared some of his frustration with primary care and expressed that he had a lot more fun doing urgent care medicine. He felt that in the UC patients were more receptive to input from a doctor without much of an agenda from themselves. 100% agreed.
Overall impression of the interview
It went quite well. I asked 2 small questions in the end even though I didn’t have any good ones to ask because I didn’t want them to think that I’m not interested. I don’t know if I will get to the final 3… I’m 70% sure I will.
What I Could have done better
I sort of dismissed the other business partners on the phone. Not intentionally, they just didn’t say much and I think it would have been worthwhile to try to ask them what expectations they had of me as one of the first doctors in this new medical startup.
I also ended the interview too abruptly… I always do that even in general phone conversations. I was good with Dr. P, thanked him and told him his patient cases were quite good and that it was a pleasure talking to him. I didn’t thank the other people on the phone for taking the time to interview me and listen to me.
I’ll keep you guys posted about the outcome next week. Crossing my fingers.