Saira Malik Rahman MD is a talented painter who blends her time as a pediatrician, an artist and a mother of 3. Her experience has shown her that these different facets of life have a symbiotic relationship, enhancing one another. Dr. Malik Rahman has been painting for as long as she can remember. Inspired by her physician grandfather and her artist mother, she knew that she wanted to become a pediatrician even before she began college. With dual concentrations in visual arts and biology as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, she felt that her art classes and her biology courses complemented each other. When she took a year abroad after college to study art history and creative writing, she was already on the path to achieving her dream of becoming a physician, as she also spent that year interviewing for medical school.
Fortunately, the medical school that Saira chose to attend, University of Illinois in Chicago, offered medical humanties electives such as a figure drawing class, which she describes as an enriching part of her medical education. As a medical student, she developed an elective there. She would round on patients and turn their medical history into artwork. For example, when a child with a heart condition drew a picture of a heart with tubes coming out of it, she took the boy’s drawing and made it into a painting incorporating his drawing, which is collaged into the painting. She was able to put on an art show at the medical school displaying the artwork.
Dr. Malik Rahman believes that cultivating the skills that are required for creating art has made her a better doctor, and that being a doctor has made her a better artist. Medicine provides the subject matter, while art is therapeutic. She loves being a pediatrician and is surprised whenever anyone believes that the two passions may be mutually exclusive. She finds many similarities between the two disciplines such as the need to observe keenly, filtering important details from a scene or a medical history, and the fact that medicine is itself an art. She enjoys seeing patients and tries to stay up to date with current medical knowledge on a very regular basis but the practice of painting for her is very different. As an artist, she says that the process does not come in a continued, regular fashion, but instead comes in spurts. She explains that the ideas and emotions that come to her need to ‘marinate' and build momentum and eventually pour out on to her canvas. She says that when it comes to painting, ‘you let go of yourself and your surroundings’ which has been a way for her to process the emotionally charged issues that she has had to deal with as a pediatrician. She says that, “Art has been a constant companion,’ as it has really been an outlet for her throughout her life. Dr. Malik Rahman has lectured in the Medical Humanities department at the University of Texas in Houston and she has done art shows for medical students and also displays her artwork on online galleries.
Because she truly lives her life by embracing medical humanities, she teaches her own sons not to develop their minds in a tight container and she wants them to know that you do not have to cast one interest aside for another. Saira is currently working on a tapestry and she is starting a website featuring her work because she believes that art is meant to be shared. Her website is saira.carbonmade.com
Lam Le MD, the medical director of St. John Outpatient wound center, has been able to build a charity wound care foundation in Vietnam thanks to her thriving MONAT business. Her foundation, Heal Foundation, was born when she found out about Harvard University’s vascular anomaly clinic at a medical conference that she attended. Dr. Le traveled with the Harvard group to Vietnam to care for patients and when she saw patients who could not pay for their own medical care, she was inspired to go back to provide wound care for indigent patients.
In the meantime, as a physician, she ignored most of the cosmetic advertisements that she came across on her Facebook feed. But when she noticed a friend’s new profile photo, she contacted her friend to ask about the product she was using on her noticeably more attractive hair. Dr. Le initially wanted to buy the product for herself. While she was looking for a good deal, she stumbled on the opportunity to become a market partner for the hair product. She had already been looking for a way to fund her dream clinic in Vietnam when the MONAT opportunity came up. So she tried the product herself and observed the results on a few friends and colleagues. Convinced that it worked to improve the appearance of hair and to regrow hair, she was quickly able to bring on 15 team members, who brought on more team members. Currently, Dr. Le is the leader of a 1500-person team, called the HEALthy Hair Dream Team.
Now her business, which initially started as a way to build some residual income for the wound care foundation, has been a very successful endeavor. And that has translated into growth for Heal Foundation. After her trip with Harvard University’s medical team, Dr. Le started helping fill the need in wound care by giving supplies to a hospital in Vietnam. Then, her foundation set up a wound care clinic. Now she is able to able to take a whole medical team, including orthopedic surgeons and a vascular surgeon to provide free wound care to indigent patients in Vietnam. Heal foundation takes a team of 20+ medical professionals on humanitarian missions to Vietnam twice a year. Dr. Le says, "We do continued medical education and training at our wound clinic while building a limb salvage program at Cho Ray hospital. We also pay off medical bills for cancer patients who are unable to afford treatment. On our last trip we paid off medical bills for over 100 patients." And, in order to help improve wound care for the long term, the foundation pays for wound care doctors from Vietnam to travel to the United States for training. The foundation will be opening a second free clinic in Vietnam and one in Tulsa, Oklahoma this year.
Dr. Le is passionate about everything she does, and that is what makes her seemingly diverse interests of hair care and wound care blend together so well. Clearly able to motivate people, Dr. Le speaks of as herself as a team member, even when she has the role of a leader. To find out more about Heal Foundation, see their website healfoundationusa.com.
Amanda is a PGY 2 radiology resident who has a clear mission to help physicians get out of debt. Her interest in finance is more than just a hobby. As a young girl in Taiwan, she says that her parents were in debt. When she saw debt collectors coming to her childhood home, she decided to take action by saving coins to help her parents financially. When her mother found the coins, she told Amanda that they could not afford to put money aside as they needed it for food. These early experiences really formed Amanda's need to have a strong grasp of financial issues and to avoid debt. And the business savvy that she had armed herself with is far from selfish, as she shares what she has learned from her good and bad experiences to help other physicians achieve financial freedom.
When Amanda had her daughter at age 22, she took time off from medical school to care for her child. As the primary financial support for her daughter, she worked as an MCAT tutor, first for a company, and then as her own boss, setting her own rates and hours. When she went back to medical school, she paid her tuition with no-interest credit cards, getting cash back instead of paying interest. Working 30-40 hours a week at work-study jobs during medical school, she relied on her parents to care for her daughter while she studied, worked, stayed late at the hospital for her clinical rotations and interviewed for residency. As a 4th year medical school, she was approached by a large publishing company to write a book on test preparation for USMLE step I. She decided to self-publish instead, and she had so far authored books on preparation for MCAT, USMLE, and a book on the residency Match.
Now a radiology resident, Amanda looks back and is immensely grateful that her parents were so supportive of her daughter. She says that, “by example, they taught me to be persistent, creative, and loving. I would not have been where I am today without their full-hearted support.” Amanda has taken her own financial know-how, which she says she learned out of necessity, to other doctors. She says that medical school education is missing a huge component, which is finance. She explains that the practice of medicine is a business, and that it is challenging to learn how to run that business while drowning under $300,000+ educational debt at 8% interest. She paid off her own educational costs as an intern and she strongly feels that doctors should help each other by sharing and broadcasting beneficial information. She runs drwisemoney.com, a financial website or doctors, which has a resources and financial tools for physicians. She gives talks and speaks at hospital/residency conferences, and she was even invited to speak at Radiological Society of North America.
One piece of advice that Amanda shares is to look at the price tag of your education before you begin. She says that she attended an expensive medical school and that looking back, she has learned that education is what you make of it and that a lower cost medical school is an important step in the right direction to minimizing educational costs for a physician. Amanda (Dr Wise Money) uses charts to easily explain financial concepts, such as how to deal with student loans.Here is article about student loan management written by Amanda.
Bio:Amanda is a 2nd year radiology resident. As she has achieved her financial goals of paying off her student loans, purchasing a home, and maxing out retirement savings, she writes and gives speeches on personal finances for doctors in hopes of seeing her colleagues also enjoy financial success. Through her blog drwisemoney.com, Amanda shares ideas and experiences on how to achieve financial goals efficiently.
Stephanie Moore MD, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-founder of Vega Vitality, a thriving lifestyle and wellness center right in the heart of Boston, says that her secret is that she doesn’t work hard- she works smart. In fact, she believes so strongly in working smart that she is going to be holding a Vega Mastermind course in the fall of 2016 to teach others how to build a wellness business.
Dr. Moore has clearly been a high achiever for some time. As the quality director in Cardiology at MGH, and a full time Cardiologist, she forged friendships and trust among her colleagues. Dr. Moore and Ashley Hilmes, a critical care nurse at MGH discovered a shared love of yoga, wellness, skin care and alternative therapies. They had extensive experience with illness on the patient-care side, had built a mutual trust through their years of working together, and they were ready to create an avenue for wellness to work on preventing disease, rather than treating it at a late stage.
Clearly a very social person, Dr. Moore had already built a successful Rodan and Fields franchise of her own, primarily as a way to enjoy fun social events with her wide circle of friends. Her lucrative Rodan and Fields business was profitable enough to pay for her and her business partner to start the high end Vega Vitality.
Dr. Moore explains that she has always been interested in business. She says that she has learned how to run a business by diving right into it. Stephanie Moore and Ashley Hilmes take care of different aspects of the business side of Vega Vitality, including the budget, meetings, networking, legal issue, medical malpractice insurance, subleasing to contractors, cross marketing with team members and billing. The most important aspect of running a business, according to Dr. Moore, is finding a partner you can trust. Already highly qualified as a cardiologist, she added to her skill set by taking courses in Functional Medicine, a branch of medicine that looks at body systems using lifestyle and diet to control disease. Currently, Vega Vitality offers a wide range of services that bridge the gap between spa services, beauty and health care, including aesthetic, fitness, and coaching and nutritional consultation. The team works well together and is adding features to their unique collection of amenities. Stephanie says, "Keep and eye out for the VEGA Mastermind Course, 'Own Your Wellness: How to be the owner of your own business and your health," coming to Boston this fall. To learn more about Vega Vitality, visit vegavitality.com or follow on Facebook, Instagram or twitter.
You can contact Stephanie at Stephanie@vegavitality.com
Mary Pinder-Schenck MD went from being a busy academic oncologist to developing clinical research infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. A clinical research director at Glaxo Smith Kline, she started as an oncologist specialized in lung cancer. For 6 years after her fellowship training, she was extremely busy with patient care and tried to squeeze in clinical research projects – with scarce support in terms of funding, clerical help and administrative staffing. A successful doctor and a mom of 2 young boys, she had a breakthrough moment when she couldn’t make it to a party at her son’s school- a party that was very important to him and that most other parents were able to get to. She realized that since she wasn’t doing as much research as she wanted to do and since she wasn’t available at home as much as she would have liked, that she wanted to make a change.
Recognizing that she held an esteemed and valued position, and having developed strong years-long relationships with many of her patients, she carefully and meticulously looked for a job at pharmaceutical companies that she had worked with, waiting to find something that was really right for her.
She did find the perfect fit. She found a job at Glaxo Smith Kline, working on funding research projects and helping emerging researchers in sub Saharan Africa build the capacity for clinical drug testing, with the plan of developing new drugs to treat chronic diseases endemic to the region. Her day-to-day work involves reading research proposals, meeting with investigators, training researchers and teaching the facilities how to ensure quality in clinical trials. She schedules Skype meetings to stay in contact and doesn’t travel often, but has a trip to Uganda coming up to visit a research site. She loves her new work culture, explaining that is ‘normal’ to work regular hours and that her colleagues, male and female, acknowledge that everyone need work-life balance.
Dr. Pinder-Schenck says that is was tough for her to leave her patients and describes some of her patients as being anxious about what would happen to their own health care once she was no longer their doctor. But after she had developed such a caring rapport with her patients over the years, they were sad to see her leave, but supportive of her new opportunity and the fact that her new job would give her more time to spend with her family.
Dr. Pinder-Schenck says that the medical students and residents are not aware of the multitude of jobs available in the pharmaceutical industry. She explains that there are jobs for all specialties, including primary care and anesthesia, not just specialties that use complex medications in patient care, like oncology. There are even positions for doctors who do not consider themselves ‘research people.’ Jobs are listed on the career page of pharmaceutical company websites and recruiters are always looking for doctors to fill a variety of roles. In fact, Dr. Pinder-Schenck advises that once you start applying to jobs or contacting recruiters, you should be ready for many interviews, so she suggests waiting to make that initial contact until you are really ready to make the move.
Maryam Beltran Shapland MD went from working as a busy emergency medicine physician to a medical director for Securain Financial Group. While it is not an intuitive leap, the fast paced work and the wide variety of challenging cases in her current job as a medical director and at her former job as an ER physician make the settings surprisingly similar. Hard working and ambitious in every job she has had, she doesn’t shy away from diving into complex new situations.
Dr. Beltran Shapland enjoyed her work in emergency medicine, was involved in administration and often worked more hours than she was contracted to work because of last minute doctor shortages and scheduling changes. She was the most productive doctor in her group, pulling in high numbers of RVU’s and bonuses. But, while she was able to handle the intensity of medically unstable patients and what she describes as the occasionally threatening environment that was an inherent part of her ER work, Dr. Beltran Shapland found that balancing the irregular shift hours was unsustainable for the long term. With two young children, she went part time to 0.8 and then to 0.6. While she spent enough ‘hours’ with her family, she was exhausted and often preoccupied with thoughts of patient results, even while she was away from work. She also was interested in other aspects of medicine, and she was already involved in disaster relief when she took an online global health course to get her post graduate global health certificate.
She considered ways to incorporate global health into her work and had fleeting thoughts of looking for a non-clinical position as a more workable long-term prospect. Then her own outlook abruptly changed when she was named in a lawsuit. A patient who developed a medical condition sued everyone who had been involved in her care, including Dr. Maryam Shapland, who had seen her a week earlier in the ER. Like many physicians faced with a lawsuit, she was devastated and heartbroken. The lawsuit was a pivotal moment in which she felt such a sense of betrayal after having worked so hard to save the life of a dying patient. It was the tipping point that started her seriously looking at non-clinical positions.
She scoured websites, read books, and looked at job sites. When a recruiter looking for a mid-career physician with clinical experience to work contacted her, she was intrigued. After confirming that the job offer was something she wanted to know more about, she applied. Now she works as a medical director for Securain Financial Group, a life insurance and disability company. Her daily work involves teaching underwriters about medical conditions and guiding them through the complexities of claims. She often looks at autopsy reports and police reports while giving her opinions on claims and a variety of cases. She says that every case is different and that her work is never boring. She says that the job she does requires 5-10 years of clinical experience and maintenance of board certification as well as an active medical license.
Dr. Beltran Shapland stays in touch with former colleagues (who often ask about how she got her position) and is very happy with her current job. She enjoys her day-to-day work and can see longevity in it, where she couldn’t see that in her work as an ER physician.
Kricia Palmer MD is a talented and ambitious woman who has already managed to achieve not just one dream career, but two dream careers. A doctor and an interior designer, she has followed her ambitions and creative passions, often through unexpected paths along the way.
Kricia was a good student from a young age, and she was also artistic and creative. She began college as a dance performance major, but soon decided that a professional dance career would probably be short lived. Recalling encouragement from her high school biology teacher who told her that she was smart enough to be a doctor, Kricia decided that she wanted to take on the challenge of a career in medicine. She switched paths from dance to science during college and was accepted into Medical School. As a medical student, she did well academically and met her husband, a medical school classmate who is now an ER doctor. After her own prestigious Pediatric Allergy and Immunology fellowship at Duke University, she returned to Arkansas to practice at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
A few years later, after having two boys, she wrestled with wanting to spend more time with her family, guilt about wanting to leave medicine and a strong pull towards interior design. Kricia says that she felt as early as residency that she was not happy working as a physician. But, while she knew she was not happy, she kept waiting for it to get better and struggled with the idea that she did not want anyone to know she was considering leaving medicine. Looking back, Kricia thinks that medicine was just career mismatch for her because she craves creativity in her work.
Around the same time she was having her doubts about medicine, Kricia began to discover that interior design was a real career option. She researched the field of interior design, and shortly afterwards she left medicine to spend more time with her children. She began working towards a degree in interior design and she also started a small design business while getting her degree. Kricia explains that it has been a slow process because she loves spending time with her two young boys. Her plan is to intentionally grow her business in the coming years.
Overall, Dr. Palmer values her medical background for many reasons. In a practical sense, her son has mild cerebral palsy and allergies. She considers her experience as a pediatrician a blessing because it makes the process of managing the health and healthcare of her son easier. She also cherishes the privilege that she had in being a part of patients’ lives and says that her one-on-one work with patients touched her own life. And even in her work as a designer, Kricia says that it is easier for her to talk to people in awkward or uncomfortable situations because of her medical experience. She believes that she would not have been able to interact with people as well as she does without having had her experiences as a physician.
Now Kricia Palmer is an interior designer in Little Rock, Arkansas and she describes herself as ‘Fulfilled.’ She says that the response she gets when she tells people about her career transition is great and, surprisingly, much better than she expected during those years when she was conflicted about her career.
Kricia's interior design business is Palmer Home Designs.
Jeanine Renne MD is confident. She is confident that she was a good doctor when she was a neurologist. She is confident that she did a good job at preventing nuisance medical malpractice lawsuits when she worked as a medical legal adviser. And she is confident enough to manage all of the ins and outs of the European band tours that she manages when she brings bands on tour to the US.
Her career journey was not what she had expected. When she asked if she could extend her neurology residency by cutting back on her work hours so that she could spend time with her son who was born during her second year of training, her program director refused. So she made the decision to stay home with the baby and took some locums work for a while.
Then, when she and her family moved for her husband’s tenure position as a Chemistry professor, her father-in-law, an Oncologist, suggested that she try medical-legal work. She decided to give it a shot and found a great job as a medical legal adviser for plaintiff attorneys. She said that most of her work consisted of advising the attorneys against lengthy court battles over bad outcomes that were not caused by anyone doing anything wrong. But, she says, there were also cases in which poor continuity of care resulted in avoidable bad outcomes. Dr. Renne enjoyed her work and only stopped because the lawyer she was working for, whom she describes as a very reputable attorney, was retiring.
Before she had the time to look for another job, she happened to be on Facebook when she looked up the profile of friend she had made during her college year abroad. A violinist in training as a teen, he was an extremely talented, professional musician who was not particularly money wise, and who was actually homeless. Dr. Renne went back to her neurology ‘problem solving’ mindset and learned how to book a musical band on a United States tour- from scratch.
This started a new journey for Jeanine Renne. She learned how to be a music manager by reading articles online. She found other niche European bands and brought them on tour to the US- managing everything from licensing to booking tours to contract negotiations to US work permit and visa applications. She says that she even works with emerging artists and musicians who play medieval music and she locates the right audience for different musical styles.
She has now incorporated her own business as a booking agent. But what she really provides is a practical partnership for the musical artists that she represents. She says they are more devoted to working on developing their art than with the business aspects, as exemplified by the homeless professional violinist. She builds her clients’ businesses through her own understanding of the music industry and through networking with promoters and club owners.
Dr. Renne describes her journey into music management as indirect, but she has no regrets about her medical career. She says that it set the stage for studying to solve problems, for learning how to apply and translate knowledge into a real life context and for the practical skill of getting things done. As a physician she learned resource management and time management skills that she still uses now.
Jeanine was happy to share a clip of one of the artists who she represents here.
Physician Success Stories