Celebrity Physician Jameelah Gater, M.D. Discusses the Keys to Success in Entrepreneurship and Medicine

A force to be reckoned with, Jameelah Gater, M.D. wears many hats, including entrepreneur, physician, TV personality, wife and philanthropist.

Growing up in the suburbs from Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Gater excelled academically and earned scholarships to college and medical school, received both her undergraduate and medical doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan, and completed her residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Gater is indeed both a trendsetter and pioneer in the medical industry, as she owns an urgent care and primary practice practice, works as a full-time medical director, runs a successful concierge medical practice, and recently launched Atlanta’s first men’s clinic and spa. An expert in both integrative and emergency medicine, Dr. Gator has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show and co-hosted a medical radio show with her husband.

[Related: Why You Should Consider a Career in Nursing?]

On the changing landscape in the medical industry

Gater: With medicine you have a couple of different options to choose from. I am noticing that less and less physicians are graduating and opening up their own practices because of all the changes in healthcare lately, and how you get reimbursed.

The healthcare industry is one of the few industries where you can see a patient and you may or may not get paid. Even with lawyers, you have to put up a retainer before they will see you; they won’t do work without getting paid first.

On owning your own time and schedule as a physician

There are other ways to work for yourself as a physician besides owning a practice.  I own my own medical corporation and [we] are contracted with different medical facilities as an independent contractor to a company that staff’s emergency room professionals. I have a negotiated rate that I get paid per hour to work with certain ERs. I am able to set my own schedule, but in doing that I sometimes have to drive several hours and have to stay overnight in hotels.

The best part is that I am in control of my own schedule and my own money. I can work as much or as little as I want.

Another option [is] to become a hospitalist, meaning that you only see patients at the hospital instead of having an office and following your patient to the hospital when they get sick or need treatment. This is common with pediatrics, adult medicine, and some specialty practices. Most of these doctors are contracted and get paid an hourly rate and can set their own schedules.

These are a few ways where you can have flexibility and the option to create your own revenue.

I do a combination of all the different options. I work in the ER to make extra revenue– to have reserve revenue for my medical practice– because you might not get paid from insurance for 3 months.

On the keys to success in medicine

The key to success in being an entrepreneur in medicine is you really have to be where medicine is going and be on that train before everyone catches up to you. We have been very successful as entrepreneurs, because we saw when concierge medicine first started, we saw that with the changes in healthcare, patients are spending less and less time with their doctors. Because of changes in how we get reimbursed, physicians are forced to see more patients. It is projected that in the next five years the time spent with patients will decrease from 8 minutes to 4 minutes. I can’t provide adequate care for a patient in only 4 minutes. As a result, we introduced concierge medicine. When you have a membership model that increases the time spent with the patient tremendously.  We are able to spend 30 minutes with a patient for a visit and 60 minutes for a physical.

Patients don’t want to be just a number, they want you to know their name and who they are! I got into medicine because I wanted to help people and build relationships. This is the reason we launched concierge medicine 3 years ago.

Aside from working in her medical practices, Dr. Gater finds time to give back [and] is active in her community. Both her and her husband Eddie enjoy mentoring college students, speaking and presenting at health fairs and seminars, and support and donate to several non-profit organizations in Atlanta. You can learn more about Dr. Gater by visiting her website at JameelahGaterMD.com.