Written by Alyssa Walker

What do stethoscopes and business have in common? More than you think. Medical school and business school are more closely aligned than you might expect. The skills you learn in medical school are some of the exact same that entrepreneurs need to thrive in the business world.

Think about it: in medicine, you face a series of nearly impossible problems to solve and work with colleagues to help solve them, while mitigating the risk. Sound familiar?

Central to medicine and business are the passion, optimism, innovation, and desire to do better while making the bottom line accessible and affordable. Let's take a closer look at how these two fields are linked:

1. Med school skills are needed in the business world

In medical school, students constantly diagnose problems, examine evidence, communicate clearly, analyze and interpret data, and solve complicated problems. Sound familiar? It should. MBA students also learn how to do the same things.

Let's talk about uncertainty for a minute. Think about it: doctors are used to dealing with it. Patients present incomplete histories, have a host of related symptoms with unclear origins, have inconclusive bloodwork, or any other of a myriad of issues. In business, global stocks zig and zag, market analyses change on a dime, and buying trends shift like the wind. Businesspeople, like doctors, always make decisions with incomplete information or information that varies and changes quickly depending on the situation.

Doctors and businesspeople act based on the information they have in the moment. They extrapolate data and build a sense of clinical judgment over time. They develop approaches to risk assessment that result in what they hope is the most positive outcome. They do the best they can with what they have. In medicine, it's called 'practice'. In business, it's called 'innovation'.

2. Doctors and medical students use the same technology as business students

Most medical and business students today are 'digital natives' -- that is, they were born and raised in an era of home computers, tablets, and smartphones. That they adopt digital technologies and other innovations to improve their work is normal. Almost all use mobile phones and apps.

As both fields work to keep up with digital trends, medical students tend to rely on business practices around technology. 

What's paramount? Privacy. Business and medical professionals must rely on technology that adheres to strict privacy guidelines. They seek the same attributes to the software and other applications that they use.

They also recognize that the technology they use is often part of bigger, enterprise systems. They need their technology to function well within those systems so they can safely extract and add information as they need.

3. Both fields share passion and optimism

Passion is a heartfelt conviction that you are doing the right thing. Entrepreneurs' businesses often start as passion projects. Entrepreneurs go into business because they love what they do. They take it from there.

Doctors do the same thing, theoretically. They love taking care of people. Or they love science. 

What do they have in common? This idea of shared hope -- there's a pervasive, contagious optimism, an (ahem) infectious sense of possibility.

Whether it's an entrepreneurial startup or a desire to make the world healthier, one factor at a time, both medicine and business share the idea that they are making the world better.

4. Medicine and entrepreneurship are united

The need to make discoveries and innovate based on what you find works as well for doctors as it does for entrepreneurs.

The difference? Entrepreneurs often capitalize on their innovations while doctors use them more inwardly. Why not do both?

Doctors, successful scientists, medical educators, or researchers motivated by making game-changing discoveries, generating new techniques, or finding new ways to educate are engaged in entrepreneurial behaviors. If they want others to benefit from what they find, they publish in journals, write new curriculum, create new policies, and otherwise share their work.

Some even go so far as to monetize their work by getting tenure, getting promoted, or sharing more of their work through grants and other resources.

Entrepreneurs do the same thing -- only they're more transparent about selling what they do. Their whole goal is to commercialize.

Your takeaway: don't underestimate the entrepreneurial skills you practice as a medical professional. Vision and the desire to make the world a better place go hand in hand, as do medicine and entrepreneurship. 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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