The Insiders Scoop: Plastic Surgery and Entrepreneurship

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Physician Entrepreneur

Name: Kevin Jubbal

Specialty/Interests: Plastic surgery, medical education

Education: B.S. in Neuroscience (University of California, Los Angeles), M.D. (University of California, San Diego)

Current Position: Physician entrepreneur

 

1 | What drew you to plastic surgery?

I was drawn to plastic surgery because of the cutting edge pace of innovation, awe-inspiring science-fiction treatments that are possible, and the meticulous attention to detail that is a perfect fit for my personality.

I’m now focused on entrepreneurship, including medical education and medical devices. While clinical practice is tremendously rewarding, powerful, and impactful, I am drawn to the far-reaching impact that is more feasible through entrepreneurship.

 

2 | What advice would you give to students interested in plastic surgery?

To the pre-meds, it’s important to emphasize that plastic surgery is probably not what they think it is. The public generally thinks of aesthetic practices (cosmetics) as plastic surgery. Much of plastic surgery is reconstructive, including everything from cleft lip and palate repair (craniofacial) to hand trauma to cancer reconstruction to handling closure of difficult wounds and much much more.

To the medical students, it’s important they also have realistic expectations of what plastic surgery entails. Medical students begin thinking of lifestyle and compensation, neither of which is as ideal as most students think. Due to the saturation of cosmetic practices and the lower compensation of reconstructive practices, plastic surgeons make less than most think. The lifestyle isn’t that of a dermatologist or radiologist either – plastic surgeons frequently take hand and face call, and must also be on call to handle any post-op complications of microsurgical cases. Even if you want to do an aesthetic practice, you need to establish a patient base which often translates to lots of call early in your career.

Following what you’re interested in and drawn to is most important, not the lifestyle and not the compensation. That being said, I have met many students (and residents) who were sorely disappointed in the reality of both in plastic surgery.

 

3 | How much sleep do you get every night? How many hours do you work per week? How many vacation days do you take per year?

This is very much in flux year to year and month to month. I sleep an average of 6 hours per night. I would sleep more, as sleep is incredibly important, but I often find myself getting a surge of energy late at night, excited by some new business idea.

I work 70-90 hours per week. I’m working on creating systems to get that down to a more reasonable 40-50 hours per week.

I’ll be taking a total of 2 weeks vacation in 2018. I plan to at least double this, if not triple, in 2019.

 

4 | How do you maintain your work-life balance?

Maintaining a work-life balance is a constant work in progress for me. I consider myself a recovering workaholic. I began noticing my workaholic tendencies in college, after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and feeling like I had something to prove. In medical school, it only got worse. There were times when I began to feel burned out and needed to reassess what was and was not working.

Over the past few years, I’ve found a few lessons key. First, dedicate time to work or play, but never both at the same time. If you’re out to dinner with your significant other, don’t worry about work and don’t check your phone. Be present and enjoy the moment.

Second, I prioritize hanging out with friends and family on the weekends. I used to think of weekends as catch-up time, and if I had moments to spare, then I would see people. Shifting my perspective and realizing the importance of people in my life has not only brought me more satisfaction day to day, but paradoxically makes me more productive during the week as it’s easier to enter flow states when your mind is well rested and refreshed.

Third, realize that the generic advice you see on YouTube or in books or from famous entrepreneurs is just that, generic. You must be critical and self-aware of your own processes and determine what your particular weaknesses are. For example, lots of advice focuses on how to work harder, avoid social media or other non-productive distractions. For most people, this is sound advice that will help them in their endeavors. For me, this would have made my own issues with work-life balance worse. Rather, giving myself permission to play video games with my brother or watch a movie with friends is what I needed.

 

5 | What inspired you to start Blue LINC?

I love the idea of helping patients through clinical medicine. Being a physician is truly a noble and incredibly rewarding profession. However, after being exposed to biomedical innovation during my second year of medical school and co-founding a student group called Future of Medicine, I found myself needing to scratch my entrepreneurial itch.

Innovation in healthcare was appealing because of the ability to affect thousands or even millions of patient lives through the use of technology. I wanted to have a go at starting my own biomed startup, and I looked to programs like Stanford’s Biodesign. Dismayed that my school didn’t have a similar biomedical incubator on campus to help students create medtech startups, I studied biomedical innovation and decided to start my own.

 

6 | What inspired you to start Med School Insiders?

When I first got to medical school, there was so much that I didn’t understand. As the first one in my family to pursue medicine as a career, there was a lot of uncertainty and trial and error. I wasn’t nearly as effective at studying. I didn’t manage my time nearly as effectively as I do now. I was too easily swayed by emotions and felt I could brute force my way to discipline rather than creating the systems to make it easy.

By the end of medical school, I was a machine. Medical school was actually the most transformative experience of my life. Not only in productivity and efficiency, but in confidence, public speaking, sense of wellbeing, knowing who I was, and knowing what I want. The person who walked on graduation day was unrecognizable from the person that put on the white coat just a few years earlier.

I felt the need to share my lessons with others, particularly those who also didn’t have the luxury of friends and family in the medical field. I envisioned being a virtual mentor of sorts to thousands of students. I wanted to be the mentor to others that I wish I had.

 

7 | Any advice for medical students interested in entrepreneurship?

The best way to learn entrepreneurship is by doing. Too often, I see people obsessing over details of which book to read or which MBA to pursue. While important, one should not overlook the benefits of getting your hands dirty.

Even selling my drawings of cars to friends in middle school taught me lessons in expectations and honoring your word. My first real business, SummIT Up Tutoring, was a high school tutoring business I co-founded with my brother while a sophomore in high school. I learned how to manage a team of tutors and honed my skills in professionalism when interacting with customers’ parents.

In medical school, I started Blue LINC (Learn, Innovate, Network, Collaborate), a biomedical incubator, an organization that mentored interdisciplinary teams of students in creating healthcare startups. I learned important lessons in leadership, structuring a business, and how to negotiate across powerful parties with differing priorities.

Soon after, I started Med School Insiders, which has been my most rewarding business to date. There are several books and resources which were certainly helpful along the way, but the greatest growth came from doing, making mistakes, and learning from them.

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