CNBC technology reporter Chrissy Farr raised a question about doctrepreneurs on Twitter this week:
What are your thoughts on the trend of high-quality doctors leaving medicine to join start-ups/become “doctrepreneurs”? Anecdotally, it seems to be driven by push factors (medicine isn’t what I expected) and pull (start-ups are sexy).
According to Farr’s own 2015 KQED piece, Bay Area-based medical students from Stanford and UCSF have among the highest rates of medical graduates pursuing alternative careers with startups. It’s a type of Silicon Valley brain drain.
Maybe this is a problem to be solved. If every medical student makes apps there’ll be no one left to prescribe them. The digital health bubble will pop.
Perhaps we should hold graduates to what they write in their medical school essays. Sit them down at graduation and call ‘em out on all their hopes and dreams. Let’s see what they do. More importantly let’s see what they don’t do.
Talk about an interesting social experiment.
“You said in your admission essay that you wanted to work with the homeless. So here you go. On completion of your primary care internal medicine residency we’ve got a spot for you at the San Francisco Free Clinic.”
But the logic of the doctrepreneur is typicially steeped in the countercultural idealism of Silicon Valley. It’s got nothing to do with money, apparently. They’re just out to save the medical world from its sorry self.
“My passion remains with the homeless, for sure. I just think that my time and skills are better spent here. I feel I can have a greater impact on the homeless problem by building an app.”
What’s lost in the translation is that this, perhaps coincidentally, is an app is designed and pitched to investors as an Apple or Amazon acquisition target with the intention of exit within 36 months.
And those students who told the admissions committee that they would bee-line their happy assess to Sand Hill Road to cash in at graduation be given one-way CalTrain passes to Palo Alto with wishes of good luck.
A bit contrived, I know. But so are some of those essays.
Modified photo my Rachit Tank