From MD to CEO

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.