Some people think that certain specialties, like emergency medicine, orthopedics or ophthalmology, are more entrepreneurial than others. Of course, it depends on how you define entrepreneurship: number of patents, value of spin out companies created, valuations or funding raised? My definition of entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity with uncontrolled resources with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation. The myth is that it means creating a business or how much money you made.
Given that, I don't think a hospitalist , for example, is any more or less entrepreneurial than other medical colleagues. Few docs have an entrepreneurial mindset, in large part because is not the thing admissions committees look for. However, there are some things to consider when selecting a specialty and you intend to pursue biomedical and health entrepreneurship:
1. The amount of time you intend to practice clinical medicine. I believe clinical half-lives are shortening. 40 year- olds are looking for plan B.
2. Time to pursue other entrepreneurial interest e.g. on call responsibilites, work schedules, part time opportunities, etc
3. Your financial and personal situation. How long will it take you to pay off all of those debts and no longer postpone having a family or buying a house?
4. Your internal motivations and whether there is a good fit between your personality and the personality of your chosen specialty
5. Mentors and champions in one field or another that inspire you as role models or mentors
6. Where you went to medical school or did your residency and fellowship training in a supportive ecosystem v an isolated one
7. Your networks and industry connections
8. The unmet needs in your specialty and whether you have the stomach to meet them.
9. The risk tolerance culture of one specialty over another
10. Myths and unrealistic expectations about a specialty that don't become evident until you have practiced it.
Medical students are asking, "What specialty should I do if I want to be an entrepreneur"? It's the wrong question. They should be asking , "Do I have an entrepreneurial mindset and sufficient internal motivation to go down that road?" Doing that in any specialty is just as hard in one as it is in another.
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org