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Becoming an entrepreneur was never in the plan for Dr Selina Chew.  

“I had always wanted to be a doctor since I was young,” she shared with Vulcan Post. “It was a childhood dream. I love the practice of medicine.”

Specifically, Dr Selina dreamt of becoming an Intensivist (Intensive Care Unit specialist). Unfortunately, that dream was cut short between the years of 2016 and 2017.

At this time, she had experienced a slipped disc, but her superiors at the hospital were not supportive of her recovery.

When she asked to be assigned lighter duties for three months as she healed, her superior told her that she did not have a future in the anaesthesiology and ICU departments anymore, and that she should just leave and find something else to do.  

And that she did. Against her childhood plans, she is now the co-founder and CEO of Disruptive Doctors, a platform that brings together innovative and forward-thinking doctors.

But don’t be mistaken, it took her some time and some soul-searching before she ended up here.

Disrupting her own career

As much as she loved medicine, she recognised that there were so many things wrong with the system, such as its stiff, hierarchical nature as well as the lack of camaraderie.

At that point of her career, she was working as a doctor with many 24-hour on-call shifts—an unsustainable lifestyle.

So, despite her love for medicine and the ICU, she left and took on a job at a medical research facility.

Yet, even here, she felt lost, unsure how to utilise her years of clinical experience. She went from saving lives and keeping patients alive every day to being stuck behind a desk not knowing what to do with her own life or career.

Image Credit: Disruptive Doctors

“I thought I had committed a career suicide,” she admitted. “And the worst part was, this was a childhood dream—to become a doctor. Now that I am not seeing any patients, am I still a doctor? Who was I?”

Thus, she wondered whether there was a way doctors could continue to impact healthcare even though they are not practising in the clinics or hospitals.

“It started with me running small get-togethers here with doctors who have moved on to other careers outside of clinical medicine,” she said. “That’s when I met my cofounder Dr Vivek Subramaniam.”

Dr Vivek is a doctor who trained in the UK. When he came back, he found that the environment in Malaysia wasn’t conducive for him. Yet, he still wanted to do something in healthcare.

Together, they wanted to help doctors like themselves continue to utilise their medical experience. With that came the launch of Disruptive Doctors, a global community for doctors to impact healthcare differently.

Builing a grassroots community

Originally, the plan was just to connect doctors to alternative careers in healthcare. But they quickly realised just helping doctors in other careers wasn’t enough.

Dr Selina said, “We went back to the drawing board to why we became doctors in the first place. It was to save a life, to change a life. It was then we saw we wanted to impact healthcare differently and help other doctors to impact healthcare differently.”

Disruptive Doctors is a platform for doctors to connect with other like-minded doctors within the community, find mentors within their sector, upskill themselves through their academy, and find their dream healthcare jobs.

Image Credit: Disruptive Doctors

When she came up with the idea of Disruptive Doctors, many around her told her it’s a dumb idea. But she went for it anyway, sharing her story and intention to build a platform for doctors on a few Facebook pages.

Surprisingly, she got over 80 emails overnight.

Today, the Disruptive Doctors community has grown to around 4,000 doctors. 180 of them are paid members.

“We’ve directly helped at least 1,000 doctors by connecting them through our platform to jobs, mentors, and our workshops,” Dr Selina said.

The workshops they host cover a range of topics, such as Non-clinical Pathfinder, AI for Doctors Workshop, and How to build a profitable clinic.

Indirectly, they’ve also been able to help support doctors through their articles, videos, and podcast.

A bootstrapped venture, they’ve grown and built their platform through revenue made through memberships, workshops, as well as a job board for alternative jobs in the medical field and beyond.

Healthcare vs sick care

Something about the medical field that’s been discussed throughout the years, though, is the shortage of medical officers.

With that, isn’t it a concern that Disruptive Doctors may further contribute to the shortage, as it technically could lead doctors away from the field? 

Image Credit: Disruptive Doctors

“We get this a lot,” Dr Selina answered. “But no, that’s not how we see it and that’s not what we are about.”

Rather than bringing doctors away from the field, she said Disruptive Doctors is about impacting healthcare differently.

“What you are seeing is the sick care portion of healthcare. There are many ways to impact healthcare and thus improve sick care through non-clinical pathways,” she explained.

In that sense, Disruptive Doctors is allowing doctors continue to make an impact when they are unable to stay in the clinical (or sick care) side of things.

“If they can see other options where they may be more passionate about and move there, then more spaces will be available for those that want to be in clinical practice,” she asserted. “We are taking a more holistic and long view approach to this.”

Image Credit: Disruptive Doctors

Bring on the challenge

Recently, Disruptive Doctors announced the H-Innovators, a healthcare innovation challenge targeting doctors and Malaysian medical students.

“What sparked this was, as we are growing and we meet so many different kinds of doctors, we saw that there were quite a few innovative doctors that had ideas but they didn’t know how to proceed with it. And we wanted to cultivate this,” Dr Selina explained.

A six-week challenge organised with 1337 Ventures, it will walk participants through design-thinking and how to validate their ideas, finishing with a demo day.

The demo day will be held in conjunction with Disruptive Doctors’ annual Healthcare Revolution Conference & Exhibition on August 10 and 11 at the Sime Darby Convention Centre.

Image Credit: Disruptive Doctors

This conference, Dr Selina explained, is for doctors to explore all things healthcare, from careers, tech, innovation, and lifestyle medicine, to entrepreneurship and investment opportunities.

Through its assortment of initiatives and projects, the goal is to build a global community of doctors who are agile, innovative, and tech-savvy.

Using these skills, they will be able to impact healthcare differently—truly making them disruptive doctors.  

  • Learn more about Disruptive Doctors here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Disruptive Doctors

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