By Joshua Liu, BSc, MD

Joshua received his BSc in Biology from York University in 2009 and his MD from the University of Toronto in 2013. He is currently the CEO of Seamless Mobile Health and has been the recipient of multiple prestigious awards, including the Canadian Top 20 under 20 and Forbes Top 30 under 30 in Healthcare. He will be discussing his career transition from physician to entrepreneur.

During my medical training, I became very interested in broader health system problems, and the way emerging technologies (e.g. mobile technology) could be used to better engage and monitor patients outside the hospital setting. I saw firsthand the barriers faced by healthcare organizations in trying to build and scale technology across the health system. I wanted to make as big an impact as possible, and I believed a start-up company would be the best vehicle to deliver healthcare innovation that could scale.

I would say the most important skill by far is focus. Focus on fewer priorities. Focus on optimizing fewer metrics. Focus on the few important tasks that create the most value. Say “No” to everything else that detracts you and your team from the core focus. It is already hard enough to do one thing well. The second requirement is simply an extremely high work ethic. Intelligence, talent, and skill are essential ingredients, but nothing will help you move as quickly as just working harder than everyone else works.

One thing I want to share with undergraduate students is that predicting the future is hard. Your career change can be dynamic, and you should have the ability to adapt to new paths and environments. I would not have expected to be working in a tech company full-time this soon. If I did, I would have spent more time learning to program and understand the tech industry. In my opinion, if we are talking purely about job prospects, an undergrad degree in computer science/engineering will continue to provide the best possible opportunities in every industry over the next 10-20 years.

That said, I also think we will see a dramatic shift in the utility of traditional education in the workforce. What is increasingly important is not going to be what you did your degree in (or if you did one at all), but what proven knowledge and/or skills you have, whether you learned that in school or on your own. One can pursue multiple career paths after medical education. For me, entrepreneurship was my passion and, therefore, a foundation in software, engineering, and design would make me highly valuable in one of the fastest growing industries today. You should reflect on what unique experiences would help you to better develop your career.

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