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How good was your business training?

Article-How good was your business training?

Christine A. Hamori, M.D
Medical school, internship, residency — the process by which a doctor is created — may not teach everything a physician needs to know to have a successful career.

Cosmetic Surgery Times talked to a number of surgeons across the country about what they wished they had learned in training — and how they subsequently came to learn what they needed to succeed.

Business end Most of the surgeons say that they received good medical education, but that there were a few things their training didn't cover — the most common being the business end of a practice. And it didn't matter whether the doctor trained in 1969 or 1996.

Jeffry B. Schafer, M.D., Coronado, Calif., graduated from medical school 35 years ago and had completed three residencies by 1973.

Marla Ross, M.D
"When I got out of medical school, I didn't know what overhead was," he tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. "I'm sort of a dinosaur because I'm still in solo practice while most cosmetic surgeons are now in groups. When you're in a group, overhead and business doesn't matter. If you work for a Kaiser, Kaiser takes care of the business; they do the hiring; they do the firing. I think most doctors my age were sort of ignorant. I think some dental schools actually gave some business courses, but when we started practicing we could essentially go to the bank at that time, tell them we were a doctor and they asked how much money we wanted.

"But we were still thinking like a student. It was a little frightening. We knew how to do emergency procedures, how to do surgeries, but we don't know how to survive in the real world. We were in a sheltered ivory-tower environment."

Dr. Schafer says he actually enjoyed learning the process of running a business.

"Some people may not enjoy it at all, and they may want to go work for Kaiser or a university, but I thought it was interesting," he says. "Whether it distracted from medical care is a key issue. Because you're making so many decisions, interviewing people, hiring and firing, sometimes it keeps you away from patients, so it can be sort of distracting."

A practitioner in Duxbury, Mass., Christine A. Hamori, M.D., finished her training in 1996.

"There were a lot of things we didn't learn — managing the staff and the office was part of it," she says. "First of all, we had no idea how to get patients, because during residency, they were always there. They were coming to the doctor you were training with, so you didn't learn how to get a patient without advertising.

"So, you have a tendency to take anyone who comes along and think that you can make them happy. But they may have other issues — psychological issues or financial issues that you need to settle before you jump out there and proceed."

No time Finishing training in 1996, Marc E. Yune, M.D., Roswell, Ga., says, that from the practicality standpoint, the single most important thing he didn't learn in residency was how to run a business.

"We just didn't have time to get into that when we were residents. We were so busy doing healthcare that our exposure, in terms of doing just basic business management, was almost nil." Dr. Yune says his fellowship filled in some of the holes left during residency.

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