What is the role of a physician in the 21st century? According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of medical students graduating from dual MD/MBA programs has grown significantly from 2003 to 2018. Why is this trend happening, and what does it mean for the medical profession? For patients? For society?

These are questions that both of us think a lot about.

Traditionally, doctors tended to enter medicine because of a deep desire to make an impact, on both patients and on broader society. However, many physicians have been unable to leverage their expertise to impact systems-level issues within healthcare, beyond clinical medicine. The truth is that the non-clinical players in healthcare, including consultants, investors, scientists, entrepreneurs, among others have played significant roles in revolutionizing healthcare. So what happened to doctors and their role? We haven’t had the knowledge, training, time and, perhaps most importantly, the mentorship to look beyond.

Both of us are physicians, having completed medical school and some practical training before coming to business school. We both knew early on into our clinical careers that we were meaningfully different from our hospital colleagues - not better or worse, but different. We were intrigued by the non-clinical aspects of healthcare, whether investing, entrepreneurship or policy.

We just needed a way to channel those interests. That’s where HBS came in.

Looking back, coming to HBS has been one of the most transformational two years of our lives. Without getting overly sentimental, we’ll say this: There’s something magical about being at HBS. In one small area, you have close to two thousand intelligent people with different educational, professional and life experiences: lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, strategy consultants, investors, entrepreneurs, veterans etc. With that combination, great things are destined to happen!

Just picture New York city in the 1970s - the birthplace and era of punk, hip hop and salsa music. Did this happen because New Yorkers were naturally more creative than the rest of the country? Probably not! It happened because New York city was arguably the most culturally, ethnically and professionally diverse place in the world. People of all stripes and colors came together, shared ideas and moved the world forward! HBS often feels like a microcosm of that environment - a place where people embrace their baggage, or their “second stories” as HBS Professor Jo Tango calls it, and dream big. Dreaming big, in fact, is encouraged. It’s enshrined in the HBS motto - “We educate leaders who make a difference in the world”.

Thom Yorke, whom we love, once said, “Ambition makes you look pretty ugly”. Well, not here at HBS!

So, while HBS may have been transformational for us, not everyone has that same opportunity. We both realize how fortunate we are, being able to access an unparalleled set of resources. This is precisely when we realized we needed to do more to shape how physicians think about healthcare. We wanted to build a platform where physicians could engage with one another and broaden their aperture of what’s possible, both individually and as a profession. We eventually started our podcast “Physicians Off The Beaten Path” to further this end. What we’ve learned is that physicians have a desire to make a "broader" impact and an expanding conception of what "success" means for our profession. Importantly, our podcast shows young clinicians who want to explore the depths beyond clinical medicine that there is precedent and a path forward - there’s almost always someone who has already taken a particular unconventional path to success. This wasn’t necessarily the case even 10 or 20 years ago.

Doing something untraditional requires taking the first step of suspending disbelief. In our case it is about suspending disbelief in that achieving success outside the clinical path is possible. It is about imagination and about seeing the potential because it will push us to take risks, go outside the comfort zone, and take the first step required for success. We believe that the best way to do that is to bring to light examples of medical doctors who succeeded outside the beaten path. We are thankful that the response to our podcast has been phenomenal, with over 300% viewership growth in just the past month and viewership numbers hitting the thousands of viewers globally.

But our success lies beyond the numbers. It lies in helping to broaden the types of conversations physicians are willing to engage in. It lies in helping to build a new, more holistic narrative for our profession. HBS helped transform our lives, and now we hope to help others in their journeys.

If you have guest or content recommendations for the podcast, you may contact Shad Faraz or Alex Youssef directly or email the podcast at physiciansoffthebeatenpath@gmail.com. To learn more about the podcast, please visit potbppodcast.com or follow them on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.