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My Journey from Clinical Practice to HealthTech: Advice for Those Considering the Switch


clinical to healthtech journey
Michael Shenouda, Chief Commercial Officer at Open Medical, talks about his journey from clinical practice to healthtech

From very early on in my career, I knew I wanted to do something outside of clinical practice. I wasn’t sure what that would be, but I knew I wanted it to be within healthcare, so I always kept my mind open for opportunities.


I met Harry, the founder of Open Medical, while working as a registrar at Northwick Park Hospital. He was looking to expand his software solution, eTrauma, into a full-fledged company. I was already familiar with eTrauma, having used it extensively during my rotations, but our initial conversation was just casual—more of a “good luck, sounds great, happy to help” kind of chat. 


Later, I moved to Watford General Hospital, which didn’t have eTrauma at the time, but they were exploring the option of piloting it. It was the first time in my registrar training that I wasn’t using eTrauma - by total coincidence, my first three years of training were at the first 3 (out of 4) eTrauma pilot sites at the time! Two months in Watford, we implemented eTrauma and never looked back. 


It was at that point that the potential scope of the opportunity to scale eTrauma, and perhaps Open Medical more generally, became apparent to me. I sat down over a coffee with Harry on a Sunday in the Watford cafeteria, and the discussion quickly spiralled into a much larger vision of how we would address the challenges we saw within the healthcare digital landscape. It was no longer a “good luck” conversation; it was now a “how are we going to do this” conversation.


At first, I was making time on my days off, joining Harry and the team for implementations and supporting early clinical sales conversations, while still working full-time in clinical practice.


I slowly became more involved, balancing my clinical practice with my role at Open Medical. As I completed my training and fellowships, I started to explore the next steps in my career, and our work at Open Medical was increasing at pace. We now had a team of over 30 people, and I realised that continuing to balance my time would not allow me to do justice to both roles - it wasn’t fair to my patients or the company.


Having completed my Executive MBA during this time, all the while seeing how we were delivering on that original Open Medical vision from our coffee at Watford, understanding where I wanted my career to go, and knowing that I was fortunate enough to be able to afford to make difficult choices and sacrifices, I moved from part-time to full-time at Open Medical. 


I was lucky to dip my toes and make sure that the transition away from clinical was right for me before fully committing. Not everyone gets this opportunity; some have to make a huge leap. Different paths work for different people—some completely leave clinical practice, some balance both, and some mainly stay clinical with a portfolio on the side. There is no one size fits all for everyone. Some have an opportunity early in their clinical career, whereas for others, this may come later. Again, there is no ‘right’ time in the medical career ladder to explore opportunities. Of course, the greater experience one has in a clinical setting, the more likely that clinical side can contribute to their next career step. But not everyone wants to stay clinical to ‘complete training first’, and others may have an opportunity early on that may not arise again further down the line.


What I’ve learned through my journey is that career transitions are highly individual and it all depends on what suits you and your circumstances:


  • Where you are in your career: Naturally, the more senior and experienced you are, the more opportunities might be directly available to you. But even when you are junior, you can expand your portfolio. Identify your missing skills and find roles or means to develop them. For instance, becoming a doctor with research or project management experience opens more doors.


  • What sacrifices you can or cannot make: Consider financial obligations like a mortgage or family. Transitioning to a new industry may require additional learning on your days off, further education, restarting at the bottom of the career ladder, or a lower starting salary. You have to be willing to make these sacrifices if you make the leap.


  • What you enjoy: If you love clinical practice, do not give it up too easily - find ways to split your time, find portfolio opportunities, find roles that require, and indeed support, ongoing clinical practice. But if you don't like what you’re currently doing and cannot see a path towards enjoying your clinical work, don't let ‘future rewards’ be the deciding factor in continuing. It may not get easier with seniority - in fact, in most cases, it becomes more challenging. And this applies in pretty much any role in any industry. The only mitigation is to do something you actually enjoy. 


Lastly, make sure that at each step of your journey, you ask yourself the right questions, like what motivates you, gives you purpose in your professional life, where you see your future, and whether you can make it work at this point in time. The answers will evolve over time, and that’s what will guide your path forward.


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