By: Durwesh Kadri
It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot. This is one reality of entrepreneurship, and imperatively, so are the mentors that groom that pilot, cautioning him whenever the entrepreneurial spirit writes cheques the body can’t cash. This sums up my time in the Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) program, facilitated by WORLDiscoveries, the business development office at Western University.
As I embarked on my professional journey in Canada, I faced a pivotal choice. After my Master’s in Public Health, and a few entrepreneurial stumbles under my belt — learnings, as I prefer to call them — I stood at a crossroads: dive into the workforce or take a leap of faith. Driven by a lifelong dream of entrepreneurship and a passion for healthcare innovation, I chose the path of the Medical Innovation Fellowship. This wasn’t just another educational program; it was a launchpad into the world of entrepreneurship.
Since my younger days, entrepreneurship was more than just owning a business to me; it was a way of life. It meant grabbing the bull by its horns and making things happen against all odds. But in a new country, the path to this dream was cluttered with hurdles: a sparse network, lack of mentors, and knowledge gaps.
The Medical Innovation Fellowship was my opportunity to fill these gaps and supercharge my entrepreneurial spirit. Far from a traditional academic setting, this fellowship thrust me into the entrepreneurship ecosystem, where I learned from lived experiences, connected with key players, and got mentoring from the best in the field.
The mentorship I received transcended beyond textbooks. It encompassed practical, real-world insights by seasoned entrepreneurs. These mentors guided me through the intricacies of the business landscape, offering invaluable lessons and strategies rooted in their own experiences. I also developed invaluable relationships with the mentors resulting in some becoming a permanent part of my journey.
In the fellowship, I learned a vast array of skills including recognizing root causes through observation and in-depth interviews, especially with physicians. I learned the art of asking tough questions, cutting through the fluff to the real issues. This experience reinforced that answers in the real world aren’t binary; they are shades of probability that require nuanced understanding. Above all, I learned that action trumps theory. Being immersed in the start-up world and business development, I put theory into practice, developing business strategies, understanding market dynamics, as I moved closer to my entrepreneurial goals.
In my current public health role, I am applying the skills gained from my fellowship aiming to increase the efficacy of public health programs. One key skill I’m applying is the ability to conduct interviews with clinicians, a technique I refined during my fellowship. By supporting these discussions with clinicians, I aim to define fundamental challenges they encounter in collaborating with public health initiatives. This direct engagement not only sheds light on existing barriers but also informs the development of more effective collaboration strategies.
In addition to this, I’ve integrated principles of design thinking and hedge fund frameworks into planning and evaluating public health programs. Leveraging these methodologies, I have crafted a toolkit designed to apply a venture evaluation lens to public health projects, particularly those with a focus on healthcare professional engagement. It is rooted in evidence-based practices and aids in thorough planning and preliminary evaluation of public health initiatives. By merging these diverse approaches, I am working towards creating public health programs that are not only more efficient and effective but also attuned to the real-world challenges and needs, especially of healthcare professionals.
Today, I stand ready to make measurable contributions to public health, equipped with experiences and connections from MIF. My journey has been about transforming a vision into reality by solving ‘wicked’ problems as it’s not our abilities that show who we truly are, it’s our choices (Albus Dumbledore).Read more