How to Create Medical Student Entrepreneurs

Biomedical and clinical innovation and entrepreneurship has begun to take its rightful place along side anatomy, biochemistry and clinical medicine in medical school. The process has been slow, but we are seeing the evidence of medical student engagement and interest.

Here are 10 ways to stimulate medical student interest and achievement in bioentrepreneurship:

1. Create bioentrepreneurship programs that are convenient, affordable and fit into the workflow of medical students and their curriculum.

2. Train the trainers by educating and training basic science and clinical faculty 

3. Use education models that are familiar, like Innovation Grand Rounds, Company Clinicopathologic Conferences and “see one, do one, teach one” strategies, emphasizing experiential learning under the supervision of “innovation attendings”

4. Emphasize the similarities between the clinical mindset and the entrepreneurial mindset

5. Integrate and include them into local innovation ecosystems

6. Expose them to sponsors, champions and mentors

7. Create opportunties for them to showcase their work or ways to practice presenting it and, thereby, practice their communication and emotional intelligence skills. For example, I recently attended a session where 4 science grad students and 4 business school students presented their ideas to each other as a way to improve their presentation skills and learn to speak to an audience not familiar with their terms and lingo.

8. Create a seed stage fund to reward medical students for their entrepreneurial efforts

9. Engage those with interest and help them create a personal and professional development plan that includes, hopefully, completing a residency and some reasonable exposure to clinical practice

10. Celebrate their accomplishments and showcase them to other medical student entrepreneurs around the world. Create Medical Student and Faculty Bioentrepreneur of the Year Awards, with a prize to support their entrepreneurial ventures, and include entrepreneurial activities as part of promotion and tenure evaluations.

11. Offer a gap year to work in industry Or, just travel for a year without going broke. Given the uncertainty of when or if universities might reopen, now might be a particularly good time for undergrads to consider a gap year too.

12. Offer Masters in Biomedical Entrepreneurship programs (including clinical and digital health tracks) instead of MD/MBAs or Certificate programs in health care entrepreneurship offering ompetency based stackable modules

Here is an example of what happens when you put the pieces together

SoPE Members Nicholas Cozzi, MBA, and Craig Thomas, MS, are second year medical students at Central Michigan University College of Medicine. While working through their curriculum, which relies heavily on case-based learning, they realized there was a technology gap that needed to be filled as there was no great delivery system built for case-based learning in the medical sciences. They realized there was an opportunity that both of them had always dreamed of, to start a business, and so ShareCase LLC was born. Nick and Craig began their journey by pitching the idea to other physician entrepreneurs, who gave the duo some great start-up advice and feedback, as well as contacts to continue the needed research into the idea.

After doing the early market research, Nick and Craig joined a local business incubator where they partnered with Phil Zerull, a senior web developer and data specialist. The team successfully built their beta platform and launched a pilot program with their university. 

After the pilot Nick and Craig were offered the opportunity to do a live demonstration of their ShareCase med Platform ( and present a poster at the American Medical Student Association’s National Convention in Washington, DC. There, they were able to win the award for “Best Curriculum Development and Educational Project.” 

Following the convention Craig met with another SoPE Co-Founder, Dr. Jeffrey Hausfeld, who was able to provide valuable insight into creating value for current physicians particularly with the hot topic of Value-Based Medicine. With the advice from Dr. Hausfeld and the hard work that began with Dr. Meyers’ encouragement, Nick and Craig just recently secured First Place in the Central Michigan University New Venture Competition where they won $30,000 to aid in developing their business.

 Another example is the Rocky Mountain Biotechnology Symposium,organized by graduate students to interact with local biotech companies.

Finally, the University of Colorado Innovation Fellowship offers applicants experience at the intersection of business, science, engineering, medicine and the law.

And there is more. A lot more.

Medical student and resident entrepreneurship will continue to evolve and ultimately diffuse into practice. The result will be user defined value that, hopefully, will bend the elusive cost curve and improve outcomes. Congratulations to all the students and trainees who are joining us on the journey.

The purpose of medical student entrepreneurship education is to introduce them to the entrepreneurial mindset and awaken their innerpreneur. It is not just teaching them how to start companies, but rather how to create user defined value through the deployment of innovation. Effective medical student entrepreneurs have these 5 traits.

It is rewarding to know that at least some students put down their iPads long enough to listen to the lecture.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship