Entrepreneur Rx Episode 1: Dana Corriel, MD, Founder, SoMeDocs
John’s first guest is physician turned entrepreneur, Dr. Dana Corriel. Dana is a board-certified internist and founder of SoMeDocs, a platform that connects physicians across the globe, providing networking opportunities to help form successful online brands. Dana discusses why she became disillusioned with healthcare, how she utilizes Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with doctors and what inspired her to found SoMeDocs.
About Dana Corriel:
Dana is a board-certified internist and founder of SoMeDocs (Doctors on Social Media), online platforms where physicians network, learn how to build effective online brands, and find resources for marketing their voices, messages, and businesses, in order to move the needle in healthcare. SoMeDocs has helped fuel many physician thought leaders, many of whom have successfully gone on to write books, make appearances in mainstream media, and accomplish feats doctors never thought could open career doors. The collaborations that have been sparked from SoMeDocs serve as a testament to the power of online connection in the healthcare field.
Dr. Corriel has earned the title of Top Ten Internists to Follow on Twitter in 2018 by Medical Economics and Top 20 Social Media Physician Influencers by Medscape in 2019. She has appeared in major publications including the LA Times, Gastro & Endo News, MDMagazine, The Boston Globe, Huff Post, Medscape, and EP News, and served as guest faculty at conferences, including a yearly guest faculty position at the Harvard Healthcare Writers’ Conference. She now hosts Summits for healthcare professional development through SoMeDocs.
Dr. Corriel’s specialty is physician branding, online strategy, and unique content creation/marketing. In addition to running the SoMeDocs space, she’s currently offers consultation packages and actual content creation for doctors who want to stand out online, including unique video series, courses, and landing pages. Her dream is not only to inspire professionals to innovate by thinking outside the box, but to play an instrumental role in facilitating a connection between health experts and the general public. When we strategize through using the online medium, we can make positive progress, even in healthcare.
[00:00:09] Advert: ForbesBooks presents Entrepreneur RX with Dr. John Shufeldt, helping healthcare professionals own their future.
[00:00:27] Dr. John Shufeldt: Welcome to the very first episode of Entrepreneur RX. Today, I’m joined by a physician turned entrepreneur. Her name is Dr. Dana Corriel. Dana is a board-certified internist and founder of SoMeDocs, a platform that connects physicians across the globe, writing networking opportunities to help form successful online brands. Dana, thanks for being on the show. I understand you’re actually skiing in Colorado right now.
[00:00:51] Dr. Dana Corriel: Yes. Hi, John. We are in Colorado. We come here every year. Obviously, this year was a lot more complicated, but we decided to actually go for it and we’re following all the rules and we got tested and we’re following precautions and we are skiing. It’s great.
[00:01:07] Dr. Shufeldt: That is impressive. I went skiing about six weeks ago and I think I tore my labrum while skiing. I’ve got no more bumps for me.
[00:01:15] Dr. Corriel: I’m so sorry of you.
[00:01:15] Dr. Shufeldt: There were small bumps. Anyway, thanks for joining. You have a really cool background. Let me just ask you some questions because I want to bring the listeners up to speed on you because you’re a little bit odd, which is cool. You went through medical school, you came here, and went to medical school in Israel, right?
[00:01:34] Dr. Corriel: Yes. I was born in Israel and I immigrated here at age 10 to Los Angeles, actually. Then I went to UCLA for undergrad and then I went back for medical school to Sackler School of Medicine.
[00:01:46] Dr. Shufeldt: Is that a four-year degree there like it is here, is it pretty similar?
[00:01:50] Dr. Corriel: It is. It’s actually an American program. You finish undergrad– I earned my Neuroscience Degree in UCLA, and then I went to Sackler for four years, and then follow that up with an American residency at Albert Einstein Montefiore.
[00:02:04] Dr. Shufeldt: You did internal medicine?
[00:02:06] Dr. Corriel: I did.
[00:02:07] Dr. Shufeldt: Why internal medicine? Why anybody would do internal– I’m just kidding, but why internal medicine?
[00:02:11] Dr. Corriel: [laughs] It was hard for me to just choose one part of the body. I could not picture myself committing myself to just one thing. That’s so funny because it’s reflective of my personality. I just love dabbling in everything and I have difficulty committing, obviously, short of a family. I’m happily married for many years, around 17 years at this point.
As far as the career goes, I just love everything. I love the prospect of having people come into an office where I could literally be like a Sherlock Holmes and I wouldn’t know what would be presented to me each day and each visit. Each time that I open the door, it would present with a new symptom. I think some of that, maybe, you can identify with as an ER physician.
[00:03:02] Dr. Shufeldt: Yes, absolutely. I think I’m really blessed with a perfect career for my personality. It’s the six minutes kill them or cure them. I like that quick bond that you can develop with somebody and I always say, “I may not be able to tell you what’s wrong, but I’ll tell you what’s not wrong,” which is more important.
[00:03:20] Dr. Corriel: That’s awesome.
[00:03:20] Dr. Shufeldt: If you do leave here, you’re going to leave here knowing you’re not having a stroke or subarachnoid hemorrhage or MI, or what have you. I love that aspect of it. Yes, I agree with you, I love all the different things that come in.
[00:03:32] Dr. Corriel: Yes, everything except in internal medicine, you can’t leave it at that. You have to actually solve the issue as an internist.
[00:03:39] Dr. Shufeldt: You did that. You were an internist on the East Coast for 15 years?
[00:03:45] Dr. Corriel: Right, because I was raised in Los Angeles, but I married someone that was raised in Brooklyn. Actually, we went to medical school together. We decided to go back after medical school to the New York area. He did his training at Mount Sinai, I did mine at Albert Einstein and we just remained there and raised a family there. Yes, the East Coast.
[00:04:06] Dr. Shufeldt: I’ve never lived on the East Coast, but it’s definitely a little different. I read about you– We’ve not talked for a little less than a year now, I think, but I read about you that you became disillusioned with healthcare and decided to basically strap on your entrepreneurial boots. What prompted that decision?
[00:04:27] Dr. Corriel: That’s a great question. Actually, there’s such a long answer to this, so I’m going to keep it brief. As a primary care physician, I just didn’t find that the healthcare system worked, neither for me nor for patients. I’m speaking about corporate health care, primary care doctor that works for a larger organization, which is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly our reality.
As times change, physicians that are in private practice are finding that they need to be bought out by the larger corporations because there’s no other way. So many different factors went into my decision. So many different factors, but at the end of the day, it was hurting me, it was hurting my patients, and I decided that I was going to somehow make a change in healthcare and I was going to actually create that change and take action.
I was able to do that, not just “poof” by magic, suddenly. I had been working on it for several years as I was practicing. When I finally– The straw that broke the camel’s back, it wasn’t just one thing. It was many things, but I knew at that point that I was going to commit my full time to the venture that I had already started and that was SoMeDocs that I know that we’re going to speak about.
[00:05:45] Dr. Shufeldt: Wow. That had to be the evening of your last patient when you went home and you took off the stethoscope for good, obviously, preparing probably. What did that feel like? I’m afraid to do it candidly.
[00:06:02] Dr. Corriel: I get it. It was so bittersweet. It was both exhilarating because I’m like, “Whoa, I am now officially starting a new chapter in my life and a chapter that’s undefined, this territory that’s so nebulous.” Exhilarating, but also very frightening because here I am a physician who you’re supposed to traditionally see patients and you’re supposed to do things the way you’re supposed to do and you commit, what? 30-plus years of your life to being there and suddenly I’m saying, “Bye-bye.”
Very frightening. Very, very frightening. I’m not really sure that I’ve gotten over that fright, that that feeling has left, but I try to remind myself all the time that I’m doing something that has good at the end. I’m still doing something with my degree. I’m still trying to create something. Hopefully, I’ll succeed, but it doesn’t make me a lesser doctor because I’ve chosen to do something different with my degree.
[00:07:03] Dr. Shufeldt: It definitely makes you a more courageous physician because– I’ve done other health entrepreneurism things. I just don’t know that I’ll ever be able to– I’m sure I will, but at this point, I don’t know. I can’t imagine taking off the proverbial stethoscope for good. I have to give you a lot of kudos for that because that’s tough.
[00:07:26] Dr. Corriel: I appreciate it, but I want to know quickly here that I did consider dabbling in it while I do this, but again, to stress, as a primary care physician, the key there is continuity. I feel like I can’t serve my patients well if I’m not in it completely. I was already working somewhat part-time. In ER, that’s more shift work, and so you can pick up a shift here and there and still do what you do, but in primary care, it’s much harder to continue– [crosstalk]
Yes, it’s much harder because people need you at all times. If they’re sick and you’re just not working for a few days or for a few weeks, it doesn’t serve your patient pop. It doesn’t actually work in primary care medicine.
[00:08:16] Dr. Shufeldt: Yes, I know.
[00:08:16] Dr. Corriel: Unless you’re, again, doing urgent care, which is very similar to ER.
[00:08:20] Dr. Shufeldt: Yes, or maybe hospitalists it could work. You’ve said before, and feel free to fact check me or correct me, but you said physicians can really make a significant difference by leveraging the incredible untapped medium of social media. What turned you on to that epiphany because I’m not a big social media person? What was the light bulb moment for you?
[00:08:43] Dr. Corriel: For me, it was actually doing it myself. It was the firsthand experience of having dabbled in it, having discovered not only personal satisfaction and a personal growth perspective of it like, “Wow.” Writing out my feelings about X, Y, and Z that doesn’t work in healthcare just totally liberated me. From a personal perspective, it was almost like a therapy session with literally a therapist except I wrote everything down and expressed it on virtual paper and then push the publish button.
The feeling there is incredible that you can actually express how you honestly feel and then let people read it. There’s a personal satisfaction there, but also my career advanced in putting myself out there and pushing the envelope and getting over that fear, career doors started to open. I started getting quoted in publications and I started to get awards like the top internists to follow and top influencer by Medscape, et cetera, those kinds of things.
I was also getting courted to come to conferences. I served yearly at the Harvard Writers, the Healthcare Writers Conference that Dr. Julie Silver puts on that’s fantastic. I started connecting with people and seeing that I could actually really help others, including doctors, in a very satisfying way.
I think at the end of the day, I went into medicine because I love connecting with people, and I love helping them, but I realized that it doesn’t have to be in a clinical setting. It could be in this newly defined space where I was in control, and I was the boss, and I could create the rules. As you know, as an entrepreneur yourself, there’s magic in that.
[00:10:33] Dr. Shufeldt: There’s a lot of magic in it. For me, entrepreneurism has really helped me not be burned out after 30-plus years of practicing in an emergency department. Now I have it easy, I work four-day shifts a month. I’m not grinding out like I used to do. I think what you said there was so interesting, you’re still helping people. You’re helping physicians and you’re helping patients.
By sharing what you’ve learned and what you’ve gained, you’re helping actually a larger group of patients. You’ll not be touching them anymore, but you’re at least helping their construct, and how to navigate the medical field, which unless you’re a physician, or unless you know someone who’s a physician, it is extremely hard, if you have a diagnosis of cancer or something, to get on that path, the right path where people are really helping you out because it is so convoluted.
[00:11:25] Dr. Corriel: Yes. That’s where the magic happens. That’s actually what I’m doing, is I am leveraging this online space, but to me, it’s more than social media. It’s the online world, but to me, it’s just this big space that we haven’t yet tapped as a healthcare community. It’s a huge connector because, at the click of a button, we could connect with someone across the globe.
There’s magic in that because now you’ve got patients that want to maybe find an expert in a certain field, but you don’t always have to get to them physically. You can even soak up some of their intellectual property. What I mean by intellectual property is some of their content and their expertise. You can soak that up online. You don’t have to go and see them in person. You can read about their expertise and what they know and what they’ve learned.
The same thing goes for the experts themselves. They don’t need to wait until a health care visit behind a closed-door, one-on-one. They can now suddenly write, let’s say– I’m randomly picking this, but write something in a blog and have an impact that’s greater than one-on-one. They can have an impact that’s one on a million, if they have a million followers, for example. That, to me, is the future. Is that because that connection is so powerful and is so exponentially big, that’s where we’re going to turn, is these connections that are online because of the power.
Now, just understand me so that nobody misunderstands what I’m saying. I’m not saying that we should replace that one-on-one physical connection because you can’t replace it. You can’t have someone give you truly valuable medical advice that’s not there to touch you or to see the expressions on your face and the other things that are important to pick up when you’re there live, but still, there are so many valuable ways that we can connect and impact using a virtual connection.
[00:13:31] Dr. Shufeldt: I think that’s so prescient. Bill Gates said in the ’90s, “Content is king.” Clearly, what you’re doing is putting out content that people want to absorb to improve their knowledge, and physicians want to absorb and share it, and now you’re helping physicians improve their connections on social media.
A couple of years ago, you were named one of the top 10 internists to follow on Twitter. I don’t think I’m even on Twitter. Twitter would scare me. Particularly in times of COVID, what do you do with all the folks that– You write something out there, it’s from the heart, and you get these trolls who just rant back at you, and you’re like, “Are you kidding me?” How do you manage that?
[00:14:18] Dr. Corriel: There’s trolls everywhere. I’m on every major social media platform. I’ve definitely got my finger on the online pulse. Twitter is great. Again, I’ve got a nice following on every social media platform. It’s not my favorite if I could be honest. I’m heavily focused on entrepreneurship and I don’t think that Twitter is super entrepreneurial-friendly. Again, I might be focused in the wrong communities because I do dabble in the med Twitter community.
I do think that doctors and entrepreneurship are like an oxymoron. We shy away from it. For whatever reason, a lot of physicians, and especially academicians, I find, interestingly, we almost– I don’t know if it’s the altruistic nature that’s inherent in physicians that feels almost guilty to talk business, but it’s the world.
I actually don’t think that Twitter, especially med Twitter, is the perfect place where entrepreneurship is concerned, but maybe we can change that around by starting conversations. The key, actually, and especially as a health care social media expert that consults with people on what platform to use, the key is figuring out what your goals are and figuring out the platform and what works on the platform, and then using it to your benefit.
That being said, sure, there’s going to be trolls everywhere. That’s going to be especially true when the platform doesn’t match what you’re trying to do. You could take entrepreneurship as an example. I know that you’re very big on LinkedIn. I personally love LinkedIn too, but the reason for that, in my opinion, from a 30,000-foot view, is that LinkedIn is about entrepreneurship. That’s where people dabble to meet other entrepreneurially-minded folks.
Twitter is different. Twitter to me is just a platform where you’re literally just tweeting out random ideas and messages in very small tidbits because you’re limited, in every tweet, to 280 characters. It’s almost like the people there that are revered are those that are saying really clever things in 280 characters or inspiring in a very leadership kind of way. It’s learning to leverage the platform based on what works for the platform.
[00:16:40] Dr. Shufeldt: That makes the most sense. You have to make sure what you’re trying to accomplish actually fits the platform you’re using. All right, Dana, hang tight for a little bit. We’ll stop for a moment, but coming up in the second part of my conversation with Dr. Dana Corriel, we’ll talk about how her company, SoMeDocs, helps physicians and how entrepreneurship can help prevent burnout.
[00:17:01] Dr. Corriel: The problem is, we’re in a field where we’re almost forced to be fully committed, because how else do you become a doctor? It’s such a difficult field. To me, one of the keys of solving our burnout is actually doing the difference.
[00:17:15] Advert: Thanks for listening to Entrepreneur Rx with Dr. John Shufeldt. To find out how to start a business and help secure your future, go to Johnshufeldtmd.com. This has been a presentation of ForbesBooks.
[00:17:40] [END OF AUDIO]
John Shufeldt, MD, JD, MBA, FACEP is an emergency physician by avocation and entrepreneur at heart. He is an author, speaker, serial student, airline transport pilot and multidisciplinary entrepreneur, who has founded and operated several multi-million-dollar businesses.
Throughout all of his endeavors, John has maintained a relentless drive to help people rescript their future and reach their full potential.
His multifaceted experience as a physician, attorney, speaker and entrepreneur gives him rare insight into what makes a business succeed.
Over the years, John has come to realize that successful businesses don’t just happen. They succeed as a result of strong leadership, learning from failures and a well-executed business plan. An efficient organization is built on lean practices, proactive teams, a positive work environment and a solid foundation for continued growth.