At first glance, Romée and Veerle appear just typical medical students in Amsterdam like thousands of others. Ask any of their colleagues or friends, however, and they’d tell you that they are anything but.
Imagine you are a first-year medical student and just moved across the country to start your training. It is a stressful time, adjusting to a new city, a school, and new people.
How do you define an entrepreneur? You might have visions of bleary-eyed university students hunched over laptops in the dark, coding the next Facebook or of businesspeople starting a new chain of restaurants. As an entrepreneur, the only definition I’ve been able to relate to comes from Eric Ries, writer of Lean Startup: “someone who creates a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”
The start of medical school is an exciting point in every student’s path toward finally becoming a physician. While you should be spending the majority of your day learning and part of each day marveling in the uniqueness of human anatomy and physiology, it is important for us to remain aware of the barriers to care that exist within the systems we train, and eventually practice in. But now more than ever, being a medical student with a penchant for innovation and entrepreneurship can lead to opportunities to create real change and impact real patients.
Throughout medical school and especially during our clinical rotations, students are often told to keep an open mind about choosing a specialty. This is sound advice, especially since many people change their minds once they are exposed to other fields. However, that does not mean that all specialties are perceived as equal — even in a primary-care focused medical school, third-year medical students often run into prejudice against FM. Worse, they may run into stereotypes about family med which could be enough to sway them away from the specialty they would really love.
Starting a business is a time-consuming and arduous venture, one filled with risk and every uncertainty. Pursuing this during medical school is a whole different story. My name is Parth Shukla. My friend Neal Dharmadhikari and I started our first business together in medical school called Perfect H&P. It’s a history and physical template notebook you can find on Amazon designed for medical students, nursing students and physician assistant students and residents to use on the wards. We launched in late 2015 and so far, we’ve sold in over 25 states. We broke even, created larger margins, donated wholesale profits, paid our rent and helped out a ton of learning students. The best part? We had no idea how to do any of this just six months ago.
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