The Ultimate Medical Career: One You've Never Heard Of
by Kevin Pezzi, MD
I and other third-year medical students were given a copy of The Pfizer Guide: Medical Career Opportunities. It listed a dizzying number of specialties but omitted the best one, offering these advantages:
- I usually work seven days per week, but that's because I want to. I can take as much time off whenever I want for as long as I want. Perhaps thinking I was working too hard, my boss once suggested I take the next month off, but I kept on working anyway. Not working would be torture for me; I love doing stuff.
- I get up whenever I want and go to bed whenever I want. I never use my alarm clock unless I have a morning dental appointment.
- A vital element to my work involves playing. More about that later.
- I have the opportunity to help considerably more people than typical doctors.
- I don't need to worry about insurance companies, hospital red tape (and politics), or the myriad and ever-growing list of state and federal regulations that make doctors tremble.
So what do I do? I invent. Sometimes medical devices, sometimes anything under the sun. You can, too.
On one hand, it is shockingly difficult to think of a truly new invention that's never been conceived by the 108 billion or so people who ever lived. On the other, it is so easy that if you try long enough, sooner or later inventing may become as natural as breathing.
In my case, that took decades. I desperately desired to invent when I was young, and that desire persisted well after I became an ER doctor. Just one big problem: I had no big ideas, but when I first began writing, I'd often stare at my computer screen for an hour wondering what to say. Now I have the opposite of writer's block; if I lived to be 500 years old, I couldn't write 10% of what I am dying to discuss.
The human mind is remarkably plastic—that is, it can be molded or shaped. Just as I once struggled to write, by making persistent efforts I became increasingly inventive. The trivial ideas grew into OK ideas sprinkled with some good ones, then lots of good ones and some great ones that will make life so much better for so many people, and make what will probably be an unprecedented fortune for my investors.
My girlfriend assumed I was just a BSer full of hot air when she first met me and heard me matter-of-factly mention various inventions. She thought there's no way in hell I could do so much. She later found that everything I said was true, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
I can't prematurely reveal what I have up my sleeve just to prove skeptics wrong. Well-heeled investors can see some of my best ideas any time—remember my flexible schedule?
I've worked for a billionaire (as an independent contractor, and hence am not beholden to him; my ideas aren't his until he buys them from me) who basically pays people to think, but I could overwhelm his business by giving it more ideas than it can process. I'll soon test them again with a couple of moonshot breakthroughs I've already prototyped and proven; if they can't digest them, I'll find other investors. Once they see what I have, their eyes will spawn dollar signs as they pop out of their heads.
One of my most recent big ideas was so audacious and so seemingly impossible I never would have attempted to do it, but out of the blue one day, during one of my play periods so vital to thinking up transformative game-changing ideas (as opposed to incremental ones), the idea popped into my head. I was 99 percent sure it was possible, but 100% certain no one would believe me without proof, so I spent the next few months prototyping it and found that it worked better than I anticipated.
Now if I can invent, you can, too. My sixth-grade teacher said I was “slow,” and I struggled in school until something clicked and I went from dunce to doctor, just as I went from a writer bereft of ideas to one brimming with them, and then from an inventor wannabe to one who will give some corporations the ability to leapfrog competitors who are now a light-year ahead of them.
A huge advantage of inventing as a medical career is that it doesn't require medical school, residency, or even college for that matter. If traditional medical training catalyzed creativity in developing new medical devices, most doctors would become inventors, but very few do. Aside from saving time and money by skipping college and med school, you will likely be further ahead if you do because they suppress creativity and encourage mindless acceptance of the status quo. As a typical doc, your life will revolve around doing things the way everyone else does them.
Progress always seems to come from people in faraway places. If you met a young Steve Jobs before he became the Steve Jobs, almost no one could imagine that what he had up his sleeve was more than hot air: ideas that shaped the company he co-founded into what became the world's most valuable corporation.
Average minds are virtually programmed to resist change and ridicule inventors, but the sheeple who do that aren't the ones who make vast fortunes from new ideas.
The United States is struggling because too many Americans assume innovation comes from a box purchased at Best Buy and conceived by an inventor thousands of miles away, never next door. However, innovation can come from you, beginning with a “can-do” attitude that fosters a spark lighting the way down a new path.
It was new paths that made America great, and new paths that transformed ordinary folks into titans and tycoons seemingly larger than life.