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Blog Interview: How and Why Dr. Una Started her Own Successful Private Practice and More

Periodically, I interview a physician that will give you tips to enjoy medicine, find fulfillment, relieve stress, and more. Today, seemed like the perfect day to host Nneka Unachukwu, MD, better known as Dr. Una. since we have just concluded the series of creating your ideal future. She combined her vision and belief of what's possible with consistent effort, education, and pivoting to create a successful pediatric practice and a business school for physicians. She also knows a ton. Join us in part of our written interview (Dr. Una has so much to say - the answer to my first question fills up this week's blog 😉). 


Dr. Una - tell the readers how you went from finishing pediatric residency to owning your own practice and helping others become entrepreneurs.


When I finished my residency training in 2008, I still had no interest in starting a private practice. It wasn’t on my radar at all. I found a wonderful job working in a practice owned by a NICU physician. Due to a potential conflict of interest, he did not work in his practice at all, which made me a solopreneur of sorts.


After I had worked at that practice for nine months, my boss offered me a five-year contract which felt like an eternity to me, which I declined because I was about to move cities anyway. His response is what set me on this path. He told me to start a practice since I would not be staying. I looked at him like he had lost his mind and politely told him the truth - No one starts a practice nine months after residency, and certainly not while also six months pregnant (which I was at the time).


It took a few months for me to warm up to the idea but I did eventually. I combed through hundreds of pediatric practice websites to learn about them, asked a lot of questions, took many brave steps and in April 2010, Ivy League Pediatrics was born.


I had no idea that owning a business didn’t make me an entrepreneur. After starting the practice, it dawned on me that nothing in my medical training prepared me to run a practice. I had to learn about marketing, networking, building a referral base, hiring a team, building company culture, understanding financials etc. Initially, I was annoyed by my realization, but thankfully, I came to terms with it and started to learn. I heard a statement made by Brian Tracy - "All business skills are learnable." This was so encouraging to me because, as a physician, if there was anything I was good at, it was learning. 


The more I Iearned, and applied the business principles, the more my practice grew. In three years, I took it to a million dollars in revenue and started working only four days a week. Life was GREAT!


In 2016, I was sitting in my home office after a time of meditation and I had a startling realization. Medicine as we knew it had changed and things were never going to go back to “normal.” I can’t explain how I knew, let’s call it intuition. I just knew that if I did not learn how to create income outside of directly seeing patients, I would be out of luck. I thought about what tools I could add to my toolbox and I eventually came up with a few options. I could take my role as the CEO in my practice seriously. By that, I meant I could bring so much value as the CEO that I could be paid what I made as a physician without any direct clinical care. I could be a consultant, after all, I had started a successful practice so I could show others how to do the same. I could be a paid speaker, or an author. This has nothing to do with leaving medicine, I never recommend that. It is about taking radical ownership of your career path and earning power. It is about having options if things were to go south. It is about having financial freedom so you can say no to things you really don’t want to do or that don’t align with your values


I knew this reinvention was not something I needed but something the entire physician community needed. I committed to my reinvention and also committed to helping 100,000 doctors do the same.

EntreMD was born - a company devoted to helping physicians build profitable ... businesses so they have the freedom to live life and practice medicine on their terms.


We have since served thousands of doctors through the EntreMD podcast and our books - The EntreMD Method and Made for More and hundreds of doctors through the EntreMD Business School. They are building profitable personal brands, private practices, coaching practices and a wide variety of other types of businesses. 


To tease you a little more about the rest of our interview that will come to you later - here are just a couple of more questions she was asked: 


Many of my readers have no interest in owning their own practice or other business, but many tips you share translate into enjoying their jobs more. Can you explain a bit more about building your personal brand?


How would that concept apply to those in academic medicine?


Many of my readers have accepted that private practice primary care is no longer viable. What are the truths and myths about that?


I'll release the remainder of the interview in the coming months. Next week, we will start our new blog series. 

Until then, have a joy-filled week!  Tonya

Now is a great time to see how I work with family medicine residency programs to help physicians enjoy their chosen careers. Learn more here.  


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