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The Million-Dollar Mistake

Every physician without a business education who works in private medical practice leaves approximately $1 million on the table, and is unaware of that, a fact that’s well known to business experts who work with doctors experiencing financial difficulties.

Experts such as Dan S. Kennedy, Peter Drucker, Michael Gerber, Maxwell Maltz, MD, Neil Baum, MD, William Hanson, William Huss and Marlene Coleman, MD, Steven Hacker, Thomas Stanley, PhD, Chris Hurn, Napoleon Hill, and Dave Ramsey, among others, understand the financial problems faced by medical practices and know how to solve them.

It is astounding that U.S. medical schools have never required or offered a business education to prepare doctors in training for starting and maintaining the profitability of a medical practice.

When my medical school refused to listen to me and my ideas about introducing a business education curriculum, I was rejected. Why are physicians excluded from this education?

Financial knowledge and truth are not just something to be intellectually understood; business knowledge is what gives physicians the tools and skills to succeed in their careers. Without physicians who inspire and teach those lacking in business knowledge, independent medical practice would not exist today. For centuries, physicians have relied on their peers to learn how to start a practice and have pieced together advice from their peers to manage and grow their practices.

Peer physicians who have not yet recognized the ongoing benefits of business tools can participate in something greater than themselves and become allies in the effort to overcome the lack of business education in medical school. However, the experiences of our peers have never been enough to meet increasing patient demands.

Medical practice is not just a business, it is a lifelong career, and advanced medical knowledge cannot improve the welfare of physicians in private practice or their obligations to their patients — a perspective that medical education scholars cannot see.

Let me tell you about the benefits of a business education that you may not be aware of:

  1. You may not know how to resolve your declining income, or even recognize the problem early enough to reverse it.
  2. You may not know how to grow your medical practice because you have not learned marketing methods.
  3. You may have no idea how to run your medical business efficiently, like other successful businesses do.
  4. You may have no idea how to manage your practice business profitably, your medical staff, or your mistakes in judgment — all business-related issues.
  5. You may not believe that marketing works because you know almost nothing about the topic — and yet all other businesses do know and use it.
  6. Your intelligence may not compensate for your lack of business tools.
  7. With a business education, you would have all the tools you need to earn as much income as you want, without following the crowd that invests in seeing more medical patients daily.
  8. You may not know how to hire and fire your office staff to maintain top efficiency and increase profitability.
  9. You have the freedom to practice medicine as you wish, but without business knowledge, you may constantly struggle with income problems.
  10. You may miss business opportunities that could lead to increased profits or eliminate inefficiencies.
  11. You may have never learned what business systems are for medical practice.
  12. If you have not had any academic business education in your background, then you may be relying on luck. You don’t have to believe me or what I say here, but please don’t rely on your own judgment for your medical practice management. It’s better to get superficial advice than none.

I have been teaching how to handle these issues for nearly 20 years. I went through the same struggles due to a lack of business education, and I am trying to do everything I can to keep other physicians from being locked out of the solutions to these problems.

Curtis G. Graham, MD, is a physician.

This post appeared on KevinMD.

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