Monthly Archives: April 2016

THE NEW ECONOMY OF MEDICINE: HOW TO NETWORK FOR SUCCESS

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This article originally appeared on The Wealthy Physician Blog.

I recently completed reading the classic networking book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. In it he describes a new kind of economy, one shaped more by the people you know in your industry rather than the company you work for. In other words your resumé is really only as good as the people you can share it with.

This is a far cry from the economy of generations past in which one expected to earn both a living and enough for retirement working at one job over an entire lifetime.

Nowadays such steady work has mostly been replaced with constant turnover amongst employers and having to plan for retirement on your own without the guarantee of a cushy pension.

UNDERSTANDING THE BUSINESS OF MEDICINE

The point is that to expect your career to be based on one job for one employer is a major fallacy. One must adapt and change to the current and future expectations of business in order to be successful.

This truth counts just as much in banking, stocks, or real estate as it does in medicine. To say healthcare is big business if of course a massive understatement. It is the largest portion of our economy as a whole. So why do so many doctors have no clue how to conduct the business of medicine?

It starts with a lack of formal education in medical school but that is not the entire story. Individuals must be motivated to excel not only in medicine but also in the business of it in order to truly help their patients nowadays.

It’s critical that future physicians be appropriately skilled to manage their own careers so that they can ultimately do what they set out to do — help patients.

NETWORKING: THE LIFE BLOOD OF YOUR CAREER

Keith Ferrazzi’s focus on developing meaningful relationships centered around your work is the key to not only surviving but also truly thriving in medicine. Just as it is important to develop quality relationships with patients in order to promote their health and well-being it is equally important for physicians to have such connections in order to have a healthy and successful career.

These relationships serve to establish the stability that is no longer present in today’s economy. Rather than being with a single company imagine yourself being with a single network of successful individuals that you surround yourself with.

You can lean on these connections when you find yourself in a pinch like when looking for a new job opportunity in medicine. Similarly you can provide help to the members of your network community when they are in need of assistance, and the cycle goes on.

Instead of being at the mercy of an employer that may not have your best interest as a priority you can control your own destiny. Now in order to achieve this connection economy one must work diligently to develop such a network of strong individuals with similar goals and mindsets for success as yourself. Here are three ways to go about starting your own network economy:

3 WAYS TO GROW YOUR NETWORK ECONOMY

  • Find a mentor – Mentors help provide a framework for you to emulate your career after. He or she will also have lots of connections that you can gain access to for your own network if you work it right.
  • Attend a conference – Conferences are an excellent way to meet lots of people with similar interests in a fun, relaxed environment. But don’t just expect to show up and walk away with a list of meaningful contacts. Be prepared by doing your homework ahead of time so you know exactly who you’re hoping to connect with and how to spark their interest when you meet them.
  • Join an organization – Organizations are another excellent way to meet lots of like-minded people in a single setting. Be sure to volunteer to take on projects that will both challenge you and allow you to work with the people you’re looking to connect with.

PSA: THE RESIDENCY MATCH PROBLEM

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This article originally appeared on The Wealthy Physician Blog.

In June 2015 Freakonomics Radio released the episode “Make Me a Match”. It highlighted the idea of “matching markets” developed by Stanford professor of economics and Nobel prize winner in economics in 2012 Al Roth. The idea was further detailed in his book Who Gets What—and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design published in 2012.

To say it is worth listening to this episode of Freakonomics is a huge understatement. If you have any desire to understand how the residency match works – as you absolutely should if you’re a medical student – then it should be on the top of your short list of things to do soon.

THE ORIGINS OF THE RESIDENCY MATCH

In short, Al Roth helped create the residency match. He has done tremendous work throughout his storied career to help match subjects together in a market in which they would otherwise not come together. Of course, this is the case for medical students and residency programs when it comes to the residency match.

Historically, medical students were struggling to take positions they really wanted and residency programs were struggling to find appropriate applicants for their available positions. Al Roth changed all that by creating the residency match. A couple decades later some tweaks were made to improve it, such as helping couples applying the same year match in the same location.

THE CURRENT PROBLEM FACING RESIDENCY MATCHING

However, another couple decades later the process of matching medical students into residency programs is at a crossroads again. To say it is a failure would be unfair and wouldn’t do justice to all the good that still comes out of the residency match.

Nonetheless, a new struggle has presented itself. This time around the shear force of numbers applying to residency programs makes it nearly impossible for enough good outcomes to come from it. This is a complicated issues with many variables involved but the shift is already happening and must be addressed before any more harm is done.

The shift I’m referring to is the severe shortage of residency spots available to the medical students who apply each year to the residency match. More than forty thousand applicants participate in the residency match each year now, but just over thirty thousand residency spots are available to match into.

The days of more residency students than applicants is way behind us. Instead, the opposite situation exists, but the residency match process remains exactly the same.

THE PRESSURE TO FIND A MATCH

In fact, more medical schools are opening each year so that there are more applicants who participate in the match process but no new residency spots are being created. Although many medical students end up with an ideal match outcome many more do not end up matching at all. This often leaves these medical students in serious debt with little hope for the future.

Medical students feel more and more pressure each year as coveted residency spots become more competitive to match into. Stress mounts and lives are forever altered but the topic is hardly even addressed during medical school. I know because I was a medical student not too long ago.

I’ve seen first hand how the perils of the residency match can destroy dreams. Willful blindness only serves to perpetuate the problem. Not only that, but there are also no significant programs established to provide medical students with advice and strategies for how to succeed in the residency match.