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How Medical School Prepared Me For The Path To The Left

You are walking along a winding path. It dips, curves, rises, and yet you feel confident and safe because it’s a well-trodden road. Then comes a fork in the road - the path on the right is also well-trodden and extends far into the horizon. In contrast, the path on the left is rough, covered in debris, and mystified in fog. A couple steps in, the untrodden path mixes into the surroundings, making it hard to decipher between forward and back - there is no clear direction.

That’s how it felt to me whether or not to pursue residency after medical school. Choosing between going down the "right" path, further into residency and clinical medicine, or going down the left path and plunging into the unknown was difficult. Medicine is a part of me, but I’m also passionate about gaming, business, and technology. I wondered what it would look like if those interests mixed - and what career path could be born from that collision of passions. I took a deep breath, hitched my pack, whipped out a Sangheili energy sword (Halo fans will know) and headed left, into the unknown.

I pushed past the brush and came across another traveler, Dr. Amiad Fredman, who pointed me to my first landmark, Level-Ex. It was a welcomed oasis where other rogues and trailblazers gathered trying to build something innovative and transformative by combining medicine with education and gaming. Level-Ex creates video games for doctors that use the neuroscience of play to increase learning in aspiring and established healthcare professionals. I joined as a part-time employee in the medical team. I was nervous since it was my first experience in a technology startup, and I was unsure of how much value I would bring to the team.

Turns out that the skills and knowledge acquired in medical school were highly transferable. Here are breakdown of those skills and how they helped me in a non-clinical field:

Medical Knowledge - Above anything else, my medical knowledge is what differentiates me from others in the tech industry. I use my medical knowledge to create content, review medical information from internal and external projects, communicate with HCP’s and facilitate product development.

Clinical Experience – My clinical experience allows me to understand the pain points of doctors in healthcare and in medical education. It allows me to engage in continuous design, finding product/market fit, and understanding customer/user pain points.

Communication/Collaboration – The ability to communicate thoroughly, properly, and efficiently is key. As an HCP you work and collaborate with different departments and specialties to address the needs of the patient. At Level-Ex I worked with a multi-disciplinary team of managers, designers, engineers, artists, and physicians. The skills carried over 1:1.

Empathy – To be a proficient doctor one needs to learn how to see and feel from the patient’s perspective. Giving medicine is only half the treatment; listening, acknowledging, and understanding is the other half. At Level-Ex this allowed me to consider multiple perspectives, understand user pain points, conduct thorough HCP interviews, and provide direction in product design to make sure it aligned with user needs.

Time-Management – The hospital never sleeps (unfortunately for the patients). This makes time management and prioritization an essential skill. When new features are constantly being iterated and pushed out and new projects are coming through like a revolving door - these skills come in handy, and are highly sought out.

Scientific Inquiry – Agile methodologies are a common practice in modern technology companies and it’s comparable to the Scientific Method of making observations, creating a hypothesis, designing an experiment, learning, and iterating.

Getting through medical school is tough. Really tough. Through it I gained self-efficacy, a growth-mindset, resilience, understanding of human behavior, critical thinking, adaptability, and quantitative reasoning. All these skills helped me during my time at Level-Ex and it will help in all future endeavors. I’m thrilled to see that the skills I gained provide value outside of just clinical medicine. I took the path to the left and I will see it through.


Andres "MetaDoc" Javier Gonzalez, MD

About The Author:

Andres “MetaDoc” Javier Gonzalez is a recent medical graduate from Puerto Rico interested in health, performance, gaming, tech, education, and business. His entrepreneurial nature has led him to explore numerous ideas and one successfully crowdfunded gaming product with close to $100,000 in sales. He is currently transitioning into product management and is passionate about the science of learning and performance applied to esports (competitive gaming), where he runs a blog and provides services like coaching and workshops.

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About The Health Design Blog:

The Health Design Blog invites you to meet the newest specialty of medicine: the health designers - and learn from their backgrounds, experiences, and stories. We hope that our stories will inspire others who feel the pull to move against the grain, to light the spark inside of them, and unleash it onto the world. To keep up to date with these stories, make sure to follow this blog and sign up for the health design newsletter here.

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