For as long as I can remember, as a young teenager – and perhaps even earlier – I wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon. Probably had something to do with breaking at least 10 different bones in my arms! I played hard, or at a minimum, I was playing pretty rough. My dad was a doctor and my mom was a nurse, so it’s probably in the blood lines as well. Spending so much time in my orthopaedic surgeon’s office played a large role in me wanting to pursue this a career as well. I always went there hurting with some fractured bone, but I always left feeling so much better, and he was always in such a good mood and happy to help me. He would show me the x-rays and explain the cast process and I thought that was really cool. It inspired me.
Becoming a Practice Partner
All groups and all medical practice / business models are different. Speaking just for my specific situation, we are a private orthopaedic surgery practice that is 100% physician owned. A partner is a physician who has ownership in the practice entity. All new hires go through an employee phase, which allows the individual physician an opportunity to build up their practice, while having the support and resources of the group. Above all, it grants an opportunity to ensure that it is a mutual, good fit – both for us, and for the individual new physician. After spending a couple years as an employed physician, I was offered partnership. That was a tremendous honor because it validated the support and approval of all of my partners toward me.
Becoming a partner – wasn’t challenging per se, because I was just doing what I thought was natural. More specifically, I didn’t make it a goal, or behave in a certain way because of it. What has always worked for me was a simple but elegant piece of advice my former residency Chairman used to say: “Do the right thing.” I always put the needs of my patients first. I tried to do right by my patients. I was available and hard-working. I care a lot about my job and my preparation for my job. In the end, I hope and think that is what my partners saw in me when they offered me a partnership position. But I really didn’t try to do anything other than what I thought was best and right because of the many mentors who have shown me the right way to take care of patients over the years.
Someone is Always Watching
I had a patient tell me something just a couple of months ago that was incredibly humbling and made me very emotional. I was seeing a man in his mid 50s who had a fairly unique last name; a name that sounded familiar to me. He proceeded to tell me that he requested to see me and only me, because I had taken care of his son with a broken arm 4 years prior. His son was now a senior in college, pursuing a pre-medical path, and the dad told me that was all because of me. He said that I was in his son’s essay for medical school as his professional hero, role model, and inspiration. Can you imagine the power of those words, and the emotions I felt?
I didn’t deserve such praise. I nearly lost it in front of his father. It brought back memories as a young adult of so many things that I did and said to the people who meant so much to me. People often don’t even know the impact they are making on you. My greatest and most important mentors influenced, shaped, and happily supported. It’s just part of who they are. That was the most significant thing that’s ever happened to me because apparently I really touched a young man’s life, more than just providing care for his injury. And I had no idea.
Pursuing Passions Outside of Medicine
The world of medicine is changing, so much, and so quickly. I became a physician more than 15 years ago. I’m following my passion, my lifelong a childhood dream of being an orthopedic surgeon. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Everything is great. But I also realize there’s a sense of me that’s not totally fulfilled. On one hand I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do, but on the other hand that represents almost 30 years of my life, either striving to become an orthopedic surgeon or serving that role professionally. I like new challenges and I’m interested and attracted to new and different things at this phase of my life. Developing a physician side-gig represented an opportunity to open some new doors, make some new relationships, and I continue to follow things that I am passionate about.
Physician burnout is real, and a hot topic. I personally have not experienced it, but I have absolutely witnessed it in people that I am close to. I have tried to serve as a mentor, friend, and colleague to those that were actively struggling in dealing with it. I also can see how if circumstances were ever to change-let’s say the job becomes more onerous or stressful, reimbursement declines significantly, the hours become longer, those would be scenarios that could tip an individual towards burn out. So many doctors I know, myself included, pour everything we have into our jobs. It can be really hard to “shut it off” – by that I mean I am fully (mentally and emotionally) invested in my job not only while at work, but many times, in the hours after work as well – long after my kids and family have gone to sleep, I am awake preparing and planning for the next day. Perhaps most importantly, I don’t ever want to experience burnout or any of those feelings. Another strong reason to pursue additional and diversified passions.
I am an associate with LOUD Capital, which is based out of Columbus, Ohio. It is a venture-capital firm, or at least it started that way. But now, we are involved in so many different things. At its core, LOUD is about entrepreneurism and education. We help everyone – from start-up companies, to universities to existing businesses. We provide resources and platforms for companies to take the next step in their growth. And we identify talent early on, and support it. I love it because it has opened my eyes and world to a whole different experience – The business and financial side of things, new technologies and industries. Truly, for me the list of possibilities is infinite.
— LOUD Capital (@LOUDCapital) October 16, 2018
As a member of LOUD, we are challenged to think and act creatively, all the time. We strive to have vision for the future – for our companies we support, and the people behind them. We target current problems and issues, and find creative, disruptive ways to solve them. And we are constantly educating ourselves and our colleagues for ways to become better, bolder, and more innovative. This is what motivates me. Our focus is on changing lives, empowerment, and creating growth.
The Importance of Financial Wellness
Personal finances are important. A wise person once told me that absolutely anybody can be wealthy, but that it has much more to do with how much you spend and save, and much less to do with how much you earn. This is incredibly true. Being a physician affords many people a comfortable and secure lifestyle. But, if you don’t manage your money properly, you will squander it. I don’t know many poor physicians, but I do know many physicians that make poor decisions that negatively impact their finances. If you take care of your money, then other doors begin opening for different types of investments and opportunities. As a physician, many opportunities present themselves to me because of my knowledge, experience and role in the healthcare sector.
One of the most exciting things about my side-gig as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist is the marriage of opportunity and ability. We get to meet some highly innovative and creative thought leaders, and have the opportunity to support them. It takes some money to make more money. And as I write this right now, we are quite possibly entering a recession. The stock market is incredibly volatile. Some people have a lot of concern. Diversifying your interests in a number of ways – both traditional ways, and maybe some less common or intuitive ways- is an excellent strategy for long-term wealth preservation. Knowing how to identify and capitalize on talent and opportunity is really what I think of in my heart when I think of venture capitalism.
This article is part of a Physician Entrepreneur/Side-gig blog series. Check it out!
More From Spaugh Dameron Tenny…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: