What doctors should learn from taxi drivers

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I love to travel.

Last spring, I found myself on a plane headed for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. I was on my way to attend a conference in beautiful Rockwall, Texas.

After an uneventful flight, I took my bags, headed for the exit and asked the airport security where the designated space for Uber pick up was. Once I got the information I needed, I whipped out my phone, went to my Uber app and got a ride.

Brenda, a sweet little lady from Peru (she talked quite a bit) drove up to me in her 2017 Nissan Rogue and off we went to my hotel. Sitting in the back seat of her car, it hit me.

I had not been in a taxi in the last five years.

And what makes it worse is that most people are like me.

What happened to the income of those taxi drivers?

What do their families think about Uber and Lyft?

What does the typical profit and loss statement of a taxi company look like now?

You see, times changed and they didn’t. Someone saw the new needs in the marketplace, took advantage of them and disrupted an entire industry.

In the same way, times are changing in the health care industry, and we need to adapt, or we will end up bemoaning our fate just like the taxi industry.

One of the most significant changes is that medicine is no longer just a profession; it is a business.

When I finished residency ten years ago, you could still run a successful practice based on the fact that you are a great clinician. The industry has changed so much since then. In those days, there were hospitals and private practices, and that was pretty much it. Now, for the same patients, there are also urgent care centers, retail clinics, telemedicine companies, clinics run by non-physician providers and the list goes on.  This means beyond being a great clinician; you will have to acquire some solid business skills because, to thrive, you must compete.

The biggest transition physicians must make is going from wearing one hat to wearing two. You are no longer just a physician; you are a physician and an entrepreneur, irrespective of who pays you.

In addition to providing excellent medical care, you must also become very proficient at:

  • positioning yourself as the go-to expert
  • marketing
  • negotiation
  • fundamentals in finances
  • building and leading teams
  • creating multiple income streams

As a physician, you have sacrificed a lot to get to where you are. Sometimes, that makes us resistant to learning a whole new skill set.

However, what if I told you that you are one skill set away from what your want: a fulfilling career, financial freedom and time off to do the things that matter to you?

Not sure where to start?

Well, here are a few things you can do.

  • Attend business conferences.
  • Start listening to business based podcasts on your way to work.
  • Hire a business coach.
  • Take massive action with every new principle you learn.

Don’t be like the drivers in the taxi industry. A disruption is already in the works; make sure you end up on the right side of it.

Nneka Unachukwu is a pediatrician and can be reached EntreMD.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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