I love to read, especially anything related to business and medicine. I have finally realized, after 15 years in practice, that is not enough to just be a doctor. Whether we like it or not, we are all small business owners, and some of us are even entrepreneurs. Today I will review The E Myth Physician, by Michael Gerber. Gerber is a small business guru, and has written extensively on how to start a business, and common mistakes entrepreneurs make. His best book, in my opinion, is The E Myth Revisted. I bought the E Myth Physician hoping for great things, but was disappointed. The book simplifies when it should be more detailed, and lacks a clear understanding of what exactly physicians do.
However, I thought the chapter, “On the subject of work” was worthy of discussion. Gerber casts physicians in to three roles: that of the technician, and that of the manager, and that of the entrepreneur. Physicians tend to focus on the technician role–that of seeing patients, curing diseases and saving lives. There is also the role of the manager–scheduling the patients, filing, posting charges etc. The physician may or may not be involved in the manager role, but none the less, if he isn’t he should at least know what the manager does! However, according to Gerber, most physicians neglect the last, and most important role, that of entrepreneur. You may have no interest in being an entrepreneur, but like it or not you are. If you are an owner or a partner in a medical practice, you are an entrepreneur. Ignoring this will not make it go away.
Gerber advises us to do “strategic work” i.e. work on the business, not just in it. He notes that entrepreneurs will do strategic work in order to help their practice/business thrive. He advises us to ask and then visualize answers to the following questions:
- Why am I a doctor?
- What will my practice look like when it is done?
- What must my practice look, act and feel like in order to compete successfully?
- What are the Key Indicators of my practice?
The point of “strategic work” is to have us lift our heads up beyond the minutiae of everyday practice, and make sure our medical practice is in line with our vision of why we are doctors. Asking these questions will help us design the future of our practice, and plan for that future. One of my favorite sayings is, “Hope is not a strategy.” We all need a clear vision of what we want our practice business to look like, why we are doing it, and how we will realize that vision. To that end we are all entrepreneurs.