What is Holding you Back from Being a Doctorpreneur?


Hamza Asumah, MD

Entrepreneurship is a very dynamic way of life that comes with rules and requirements that are generally not very acceptable to everyone. This is to say, not everyone has the desire to be an entrepreneur and beyond that not everyone has the tenacity to stay an entrepreneur.

One would expect that because of our professional life and what we stand for, entrepreneurship should come naturally to doctors. Your major goal as a doctor, similar to entrepreneurship, is to discover your clients’ pain points and address them effectively. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

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Doctors, however, have some default settings by virtue of their training in medical schools to hold in their entrepreneurial side indefinitely. This is why it is expressed as a retirement plan and a source of livelihood beyond active working years, not as a passion that was carefully nurtured and developed. Why do doctors, especially in Africa, hold this in for so long?

Firstly, our medical education emphasizes analytical, methodical, and conservative thinking. Risk plays a little role in our work lives because we are always dealing with situations of life and death. As a result, we must adhere to certain rules and practices that have been researched and authorized in order to enhance patient outcomes. Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is all about taking chances and pushing limits without fear of repercussions.

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Second, we are terrified of failing. As a doctor, you should have recognized by now that you are mostly not assessed on your wins as much as you are on your failures. You are continually reminded of what failure means in another person’s life. We conduct frequent mortality and morbidity audits, as well as clinical performance meetings. All of them explain what went wrong, why it happened, and what steps to take to avoid it in the future.

People’s lives are intimately engaged, which is why failure is “punished.” Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is the joy of failure and the education of how crucial it is to fail as an entrepreneur. Reconciling these opposing viewpoints is a struggle that is unlikely to be resolved in a single lifetime.

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Thirdly, many of the healthcare innovations being envisioned by doctors in Africa are unable to be realized due to a lack of the resources required to make them a reality. Even if these concepts are established outside of the country’s borders, the user (the African client) lacks the resources to put them to use efficiently. This eventually leads to dissatisfaction and a complete loss of drive to create and be entrepreneurial. Not every doctor wishes to open a hospital (which is the commonest form of Doctorpreneurship in Africa).

Finally, time is a major constraint for doctors worldwide, but particularly in Africa. According to World Bank and WHO data, the number of doctors (per 1000 people) is now 0.3 (up from 0.149 in 2015). In the United States and other developed countries, this figure is 3.37 per 1,000 patents. This statistic is shared by physicians across the continent, resulting in an unreasonable demand for doctors’ time. This eventually leads to the doctor’s utter lack of interest in pursuing any other interests he may have. Then life and time pass so quickly that the goal of entrepreneurship fades into the background.

Despite these obstacles, many physicians on the African continent have found the bravery to push through physical and mental barriers to become highly successful doctorpreneurs. This is insufficient when we consider how much more needs to be done to enhance Africa’s healthcare scene. A sober contemplation on these and other issues is essential to break free from the physical and emotional shackles that are holding back the entrepreneurial side of the African Doctor.

What has been holding you back from exploring your doctorpreneurial side? Do you have any experiences on your journey to becoming one? Please share in the comment section below.


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