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From MD to CEO


by


I was trained to be an ophthalmologist. Somewhere along the way, I became a businessman, too.

Don’t get me wrong, ophthalmology is my passion. I love treating patients and teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists at UMKC. But it’s not my only day job. I’m the president and CEO of a business with 12 locations here in Kansas City and 135 employees.

A lot of small business owners struggle with that dichotomy. They start a company because they’re good at what they do and enjoy using their talents. But running a business is a different role that requires different skills.

Today’s medical schools—and those for lawyers, engineers and other professional specialties—offer business classes as a part of their programs. Most of my business education has been on the job. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned about mixing my passion with my balance-sheet obligations.

Do your homework … or get help // That means learning what you need to know about running a business, or hiring smart people to do it for your company.

Get comfortable with making business mistakes // Needless to say, the culture of health care is to never make a mistake. In business, though, risk-taking is part of the game. Understanding how to take business
risks and learn from mistakes is important to business success.

Be true to the mission // Business success can be a goal, but never let business metrics trump patient (customer) expectations.

Hire good people in key operational and financial roles// And ensure they know what is expected.

Finally, something my dad taught me: Be honest and ethical // Never forget that high professional values apply on the business side, too.

Written by

Nelson R. Sabates, MD, FACS, is president and CEO of Sabates Eye Centers, P.C., an eye care practice employing 135 persons, including 21 physicians, at a dozen locations across the Kansas City region.

Categories: Pay It Forward

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