Fascination with Medicine and Invention
I always gravitated to math and science and for better or worse, when you have aptitude in those subjects, everyone funnels you into healthcare. I took time off after graduating from Emory University; I taught high school physics and chemistry, lived abroad in Guatemala and Honduras working for Paramedics for Children, and volunteered to help in tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia, and worked for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Disease Research. These (and other) experiences helped confirm my initial instincts and made me convinced that I wanted to go to medical school; not just because it ‘made sense’ for my next career move, but to actually help save lives.
As a resident physician, I became fascinated with the idea of doctors inventing useful products to help make their shift or workday operate more smoothly. Tinkering around with a few ideas of my own led me into the worlds of product development, patent law, navigating the FDA, etc. This encouraged me to continue pursuing projects that linked medicine and entrepreneurship; especially helping other doctors translate their clinical insights into marketable products. Eventually, I decided to continue this education in a more formal capacity by getting my MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Taking the Leap to Physician 360
The transition from practicing medicine to co-founding a business was, in a word, chaos. There was a time when I was working full-time in the Emergency Department, going to school on weekends for my MBA, and teaching courses at the Emory School of Medicine; all while living without a kitchen as our home was renovated. It was a stressful time to say the least, but once I got through that phase and graduated with my MBA, I started transitioning more and more into entrepreneurship and further away from clinical medicine because the culture of the two worlds are often incompatible. Eventually I had to make that leap and go full on with my company, otherwise it would always remain somewhat of a “hobby”.
— Physician 360 (@Physician360) October 26, 2018
Physician 360‘s mission is to empower patients by arming them with tools to diagnose and treat low-acuity medical conditions at home. My co-founders and I developed a process whereby patients can purchase home test kits for strep throat, flu, UTI, or anemia and we link that with a telemedicine consult. That way, the patient can get a diagnosis and treatment (with any necessary prescriptions called into their pharmacy by one of our team of doctors) with the same level of diagnostic accuracy as if they had gone to an ER or Urgent Care, but without leaving their couch. The value to the patient is convenience, cost-savings, and preventing exposure to other, perhaps more virulent, germs. We are now active in 20 states.
Now, I am more than full-time on Physician 360 these days; it feels like residency again. I still work a handful of clinical shifts each month; I think it’s important to keep my skills sharp.
Subject Matter Experts
I do not know if I ever experienced true burnout, but I definitely felt some of the symptoms, and I certainly recognize the system flaws that lead to it. I think a lot has to do with physicians being subject matter experts, but feeling marginalized from the decision-making table. In terms of addressing it personally, I have always tried to maintain a healthy balance, as cliched as that may sound; and lots of pet therapy! Having a role in healthcare in a nonclinical way has also helped to keep me fulfilled; it provides me another way to affect change within healthcare.
— Angela Fusaro (@FooseMD) December 13, 2018
Finances for the Physician Entrepreneur
As a medical school graduate (and the wife of a medical school graduate), it is essential to get a handle on the world of finance when dealing with the burden of student loans. As an entrepreneur, having the MD degree gives me some professional credibility, but it also allows for more financial freedom, as I can always return to working more in the Emergency Department if necessary to supplement income or achieve a specific financial goal. Lastly, I would be remiss if I discussed finances without giving a shout out to David Belinkie at Spaugh Dameron Tenny. He has always been there to answer questions for us, no matter how random, including my recent inquiries about investing in cryptocurrency and buying an RV.
My guest blog is part of a Physician Entrepreneur/Side-gig blog series. Click or tap the image below to explore the other successful physicians who are featured in this series.
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