Arlen Meyers MD, MBA is an academic surgeon who practiced as an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon at the University of Colorado School of Medicine before creating a new career path as a leader filling a void in world of bio-entrepreneurship.
Dr. Meyers’ combination of academics and entrepreneurship a natural fit, given that he grew up in Philadelphia around academics and business, as his father was a professor who also owned a pharmacy. After he completed medical school and ENT residency, Dr. Meyers was recruited to work at The University of Colorado, where he has remained for his whole career.
Interestingly, it was his academic research that led to his acquiring a deep understanding of entrepreneurship, and ultimately to his current status at the forefront of entrepreneurship education. Dr. Meyers had a research interest in biophotomics, which involves the science behind the intersection of light and human tissue. As a surgeon who has a practice involving head and neck tumors, he was specifically interested in the use of biophotonics as a solution to head and neck disease. He went to business school and it was there that he collaborated with colleagues to create a gadget designed to detect tumors. This process taught him a great deal about business and entrepreneurship. His medical experience, business school, his own product development hits and misses, along with years of experience after his initial entry into the business world, have all combined to give him a formal and informal expertise in the world of bio entrepreneurship.
Arlen Meyers says that almost every doctor has a great idea - but he explains that ideas are extremely difficult to commercialize. And this is where he works to fill the gap. He has developed an entrepreneurship program at The University of Colorado that has been growing for the past six years. He also works as a consultant in the medical product development industry, guiding and advising companies and individuals as they take concepts in healthcare innovation from idea to commercially available products. And he even started a non-profit organization, SOPE (The Society of Physician Entrepreneurs,) the largest organization of its kind in the world.
He has advice for aspiring entrepreneurs based on years of experience in helping doctors get their businesses started. Overall, he says that being an entrepreneur means creating your own job. But, he explains that it is unrealistic to expect to earn a high salary immediately. He explains that when a physician moves into a new field, there has to be a transition period. When doctors leave clinical practice, the new role requires a different skill set and it takes time to demonstrate value in the new workplace- which is an opportunity cost. He estimates that the transition from practicing physician to entrepreneur takes about 3-5 years and requires introspection, commitment and acceptance of delayed gratification.
And, while he got his MBA years before the MD/MBA became a ‘thing,’ he does not believe that an MBA is necessary for physicians who are making a transition. Dr. Meyers explains that MBA programs for physicians are built for administration and policy, not for entrepreneurship. He does say that the benefits of an MBA include connectedness, credibility, credentials and content- in that order. And in his own experience, collaboration was indeed valuable. He advises to take a close look at the cost/benefit before jumping into an MBA program. Dr. Meyers himself has noticed a gap in medical education and he has worked hard to fill that gap in his dedication to provide physicians with the tools they need to become successful entrepreneurs.
Dr. Arlen Meyers can be contacted through SOPE or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Physician Success Stories