Doctor mom Ihuoma Emenuga, MD, MPH, MBA, shows us how to have our cake, eat it and ice it too.
“…and I was also tired of going to meetings where I had an opinion or someone else had an opinion, as a physician, on how the business was going, and you were literally told like, ‘Hey, just take your stethoscope and go back to the clinic. Go do what you really know how to do.’” -Ihuoma Emenuga, MD, MPH, MBA
In today’s episode, Dr Jen Barna talks with Dr. Ihuoma Emenuga. Dr. Emenuga walks us through her story, starting with her medical education at the University of Nigeria, then a move from Tunisia to London to pursue her MPH at University of London with her four children in tow, and then a move back to Tunisia followed by her move to the United States. Based on the needs of one of her children, she moved to the United States where she completed her residency training at Howard University, her MBA at University of Maryland, and continues to practice medicine, teach and do work in public health. Throughout her life she has shown bravery, strength and a love for medicine and knowledge. Now she is tackling the business of medicine in order to make healthcare work for everyone with Vie Health, to benefit patients, physicians and the bottom line of the organizations she serves. You won’t want to miss this episode! Tune in to hear an inspiring story of perseverance, believing in oneself, and raising resilient kids.
Ihuoma Emenuga, MD, MPH, MBA
Dr. Emenuga is the Medical Director at Chase Brexton Health Care Randallstown, where she provides clinical leadership, supervisory and management oversight to clinical providers and their teams while providing direct patient care. She is also on the faculty of The Residency Fellowship in Health Policy at George Washington University, where she teaches Health Economics and the Business of Medicine to physicians. She is passionate about designing health care systems that address the triple bottom line of healthcare productivity, patient experience and provider satisfaction, and is currently in the process of building a consortium of like-minded individuals and entities who have the shared purpose of building healthcare systems that work for everyone.
She received her residency training at Howard University Hospital in Washington D.C, her medical education at the University of Nigeria, and her MPH and MBA at the University of London (LSHTM) and University of Maryland (UMD) respectively.
Find out more about Vie Health at https://www.viehealth.org
Dr. Emenuga’s online profiles can be found at:
How many coaches do you think your favorite actors and athletes have worked with over the years in order to achieve such extraordinary success?
What if you had a team of trusted thinking partners, experienced coaches who have helped hundreds of physicians overcome obstacles and who know what works?
What if you were part of a community of like-minded physicians from across the nation, across specialties and career stages? Your collective brain trust, sharing ideas and experiences, so you would no longer feel like an island, surrounded by people yet alone?
What if you had small group coaching sessions, could interact with your coaches and community as often as you wish, and had virtual courses at your fingertips 24-7 that could help you with things like time and stress management, resilience, and mapping out your future to achieve what matters most to you?
What if you could have all of this for less than the cost of a single 1:1 coaching session per month?
DocWorking THRIVE is the Physician Coaching and Community Subscription Package that Guides You as a Doctor to Embrace Life in the way that is most meaningful to you, integrate that with your work so you can truly thrive, and be a valued member of our growing private community of doctors from across the nation.
Join our community by clicking here.
Please check out our Trusted Resources! The Trusted Resources businesses are paid advertisers or have an affiliate relationship with DocWorking. An affiliate relationship means that DocWorking may receive a commission if you use their service by clicking through our link. Thank you for supporting businesses that support DocWorking’s mission of prioritizing Physician wellness.
Are you a physician who would like to tell your story? Please email Amanda, our producer, at [email protected] to be considered.
And if you like our podcast and would like to subscribe and leave us a 5 star review, we would be extremely grateful!
Some links in our blogs and show notes are affiliate links, and purchases made via those links may result in payments to DocWorking. These help toward our production costs. Thank you for supporting DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast!
Occasionally, we discuss financial and legal topics. We are not financial or legal professionals. Please consult a licensed professional for financial or legal advice regarding your specific situation.
Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran
Please enjoy the full transcript below
Dr. Ihuoma: And I was also tired of going to meetings where I had an opinion or someone else had an opinion as a physician on how the business was going, and you were literally told like, “Hey, just take your stethoscope and go back to the clinic. Go do what you really know how to do.”
Jen: Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Dr. Jen Barna, and I hope you’re doing well today. We’re so excited that you’re here with us for today’s podcast, because we have a guest that I’m very excited to bring to you. Dr. Ihuoma Emenuga. Dr. Emenuga is the Medical Director at Chase Brexton Health Care – Randallstown, where she provides clinical leadership, supervisory, and management oversight to clinical providers and their teams while providing direct patient care. She’s also on the faculty of the residency fellowship in Health Policy at George Washington University, where she teaches the basics of Health Economics and the Business of Medicine to physicians. She is passionate about designing healthcare systems that address the triple bottom line of healthcare productivity, patient experience, and provider satisfaction, and is currently in the process of building a consortium of like-minded individuals and entities who have a shared purpose of building healthcare systems that work for everyone.
She received her residency training at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., her medical education at the University of Nigeria, and her MPH and MBA at University of London and University of Maryland respectively. Dr. Emenuga, Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m really excited to hear about your story, which spans multiple countries and continents. So, please can you just start out by telling us a little bit about yourself and how your journey has brought you to where you are today?
Dr. Ihuoma: Hi, good morning, Jen, and thank you for having me. I’m really happy to be here. I am a mom of four, which I’ve always considered my primary responsibility and with that I’m a physician. I’ve been a physician for about 23 years. I currently work as a Medical Director of an outpatient clinic. I teach health economics as part of the residency fellowship for Health Policy at GW, which is something else I really enjoy doing and just recently I started to build a partnership with an entity we call WeHealth, which is looking and trying to support healthcare organizations to provide healthcare that really works for everyone. I think in a nutshell that’s everything that I do, there are little bits and pieces, and I could probably go on forever, but that’s what I do on a daily basis.
Jen: Terrific. Can you tell me a little bit about your journey as a physician and I know when you and I had talked previously, you’ve mentioned that you’ve really got a global perspective from having worked in multiple countries, and I’m wondering if you can tell me a little bit about that experience, and how it ultimately led you to where you are now?
Dr. Ihuoma: Sure, absolutely. When I left medical school and started to work as a physician, I think I had everybody’s general traditional view. I’m going to be a doctor, take my coat, and my stethoscope go to the hospital, but I also knew I wanted to have a family. I got married just literally out of medical school. Within the first couple of years, we started to have our children, and our children were born like every other year. So, for a period of like six years, I was always either pregnant, just had a baby, going to be pregnant again, nursing a baby. I always had a baby around me, something or the other. So, early on I started my career in clinical medicine, a little bit of inpatient and then in outpatient. But it was very clear to me at that point that, if I was working nights, and weekends, and those kinds of shifts, I couldn’t raise my kids. I really did want to raise my children myself.
To some extent, it’s a little, I’m not sure what the word is maybe conceited or arrogant, but you know you have your children and I really wanted them to be mine. One of my kids actually said to me once. He described parents in a systematic brainwashing and I wanted to systematically brainwash my own children by myself. So, that led me to the different things that I’ve done. Everything I’ve done in my career, in my choices, in my jobs has always, I say this all the time, has always been built around the mom that I thought I wanted to be or the mom that I felt I needed to be at that point in time for my children. So, very early it was clear to me that if I was going to be able to systematically brainwash the kids, I had to be available to do that. That’s why early in my career, I moved on, I don’t know whether to call it moved on or moved out to public health.
It’s interesting, something I found is that, no matter how much you volunteer, no matter how much experience you think you have in certain areas or competency you have, people like degrees. And lots of people didn’t take me that seriously because I was trying to work in public health and I didn’t have an MPH. So, by this time, I had my four kids, I rounded them up, took them to the UK with me, and went to do an MPH at the London School. It was kind of crazy to put it mildly. Because at that point, my fourth was a baby. So, I had four kids including a little baby and from there I went in and started working in public and I won’t even bore you with the details of all the escapades we got into in London just trying to get through an MPH and everything.
Jen: Before you get too much further, let me back up and just delve in for a second on some of the things you’ve said.
Dr. Ihuoma: Okay.
Jen: Okay. You’ve mentioned that, first, when you finished your physician training, you had your four kids, was that during a residency program or how did that fall in terms of what you’re doing at the time you actually had the kids for one question, and just as an aside, it reminds me of a podcast guest we had toward the beginning, one of our earlier podcasts, Miriam Michael, who also has four kids. And she said when she was a resident, she described it very similar to how you did. She said, “I was pregnant multiple times,” and she said finally, the chair called her into his office and he said, “What are you doing? Other people are starting to get pregnant?” This is contagious and she said that she told him, “Have you seen my husband? If you saw him, you’d be pregnant, too.” [laughs] I just loved her attitude.
She similarly raised four successful kids. I’m very curious about your perspective because you had your children. At that time, I had my kids in medical school too. So, I’m really curious about your story and I love your description [laughs] as a parent, brainwashing your children in the way that you want it to be done.
Dr. Ihuoma: That was my son’s description. I did not think of-
Dr. Ihuoma: -that was what it was, but that’s what he called it.
Jen: That’s so funny. Okay, so, you wanted to do that yourself and I understand that very, very viscerally. So, tell me about your experience during those six years, when you were having the four kids, what were you doing during that time and when you went to London, how did you manage that? Did you have someone with you who helped you, did you get someone when you got there who could help you? Because with four young kids, how did you manage to go through a degree program and do everything you needed to do?
Dr. Ihuoma: To answer your first question, I was not in a residency program. I was working as a general practitioner. So, outside the United States, probably not everywhere, but in many developing countries, I’m originally from Nigeria. Even though we lived in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire when our kids were younger. So, you can work as a physician in many other countries even without a residency or you will work as a general practitioner. The difference between a general practitioner and an internist which is what I am today is, basically you haven’t gone through a rigorous residency training program, but you’re a GP, which is probably better known in the United Kingdom. So, that’s what I did. So, I wasn’t in a residency program, Thank God, I don’t think knowing myself, my temperament, or my constitution that I could have been able to have four children through residency, I don’t think so. I really don’t. So, I was able to not have to do that. My heart goes out to people who do it because I think it’s very hard.
Jen: It must be difficult as a practicing physician too which is what you were.
Dr. Ihuoma: It is, but you know the thing that I learned and I’ve also said to people who are maybe younger than me or coming up is, you make your choices. When I was younger I used to say, “I’m going to eat my cake, and have it, and keep it, and ice it. You know, I’m going to have it all.” The truth is you cannot really have it all except if you’re willing to have it in stages. So, at that point many of the jobs that I did I barely made a dime. There are times when over the years and this is not even just a period. Over the years, my pay at work has been only enough to pay for help to enable me hold on to some vestige of a job. At that time, for the first few years my outpatient job then I was only paid when I turned up to work. So think about that, I mean it gave me the flexibility because if they realize they didn’t have to pay me, I just wanted to stay on the payroll. If they realize they didn’t have to pay me if I didn’t turn up, they didn’t have to make me turn up. So, I had the most flexible schedule ever.
I did what I could do, I stayed home when I wanted to stay home, I barely made any money like I said, but the important thing is that I stayed a doctor. I was on the payroll and I always tell people we belong to a profession that is not very forgiving of time away. If I had said I want to go raise my kids for 10 years and come back, no one would ever have hired me. I’d have been stuck as a stay-at-home mom, not just it’s been a bad thing. I just didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. But you can’t easily slip in and out of medicine. You have to hold on to something and that’s what I was able to do then. Does that make sense?
Jen: Yeah, absolutely. And you bring up a great point, which is that it really is almost impossible to step completely away if you want to come back in medicine or at least that’s my experience and that’s what I’ve observed among other physicians, so that’s a great point and so when you went to London, how did you manage with four kids under six, right?
Dr. Ihuoma: Yes. At the time that I was going to leave for the UK, we no longer live in Abidjan at this time, we lived in Tunisia. So, I went to the British Embassy in Tunis to say, “I need a visa to live in the UK for a year with my four children and a nanny.” I was going to take a nanny with me. They said, “What are you going to do in the UK?” I said, “I’m coming to study, so student visa I’m asking for.” and I remember the lady looking at me like I was crazy. Without a smile on her face, she said, “I have never seen a person going to graduate school with four children.” I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. So, I just sat and waited for my visa. I got my visa and I got one for my nanny and we went.
Even though, I had a nanny with me it wasn’t easy, but at least it was doable. But I remember the first week just as an aside, we were at these gatherings where the graduate students get together and you chat and all that, so I was talking with another young lady and she said to me, she lowered her voice and she said, “Do you know there’s this girl in the school that has four children. She came here to the London School with her four children.” I wasn’t sure whether to say something or not. So, eventually I said, “That would be me.” She was so embarrassed, and I said, “It’s okay,” but people remembered my four children and I tell you unfortunately I actually in those first few weeks, I got called into, I think it was the admin office, and they said to me, “We did not know when we admitted you to the London School that you had four children. We think that you should convert to part time and do your MPH over a longer period of time because this used to be a two-year program and it’s really, really busy. We made it one year because we attract mid-level professionals and most of them aren’t able to give up two years of their life and so we made it really stringent. We don’t think you can cope.”
I started crying. I wasn’t crying because I was sad, I was crying because I was livid. I was so angry. I thought to myself, “You don’t get to tell me what I can and cannot do.” I said secondly, “I do not have two years of my life to stay in London. I’m doing it full time.” I left her office and I never went back. But they did me a favor in calling me into the office because when she said that, that made me decide I was going to be the best graduate student they had ever seen who got through the program with her four children and I did. So, like I said I’m not going to bore you with the details, but it was an escapade. And we all got the MPH. Now, all my four children have a Master’s in public health, but we did it.
Jen: And I bet your four children are all very academically oriented as well just from having that example from such an early age.
Dr. Ihuoma: I got married right out of med school, so almost everything I’ve done as an adult, I did with these kids and I’ve yanked them around to everything. They’ve seen me study, they’ve seen me, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do the math, someone help me with my homework.” They’ve seen me do all these things. So, they’ve seen me and I say to people all the time, “I raised my kids, but I feel almost as though they raised me as well.” So, we’ve raised each other and they’ve supported. They’ve watched mom do all sorts of things.
Jen: Yeah, I think that sets a wonderful example for them. I really do. I feel the same way about raising my kids and vice versa. You were born in medical school and similarly in preschool they would sit there with me with a big stack of books and I’d have my stack of books and we would sit there for hours and I think they learned a lot about believing in yourself and doing whatever you set your mind to do. So, I’m very impressed. Of course, that you did that that’s incredible. I’m sure it served you and your children really well ultimately. Okay, so from London you went where next?
Dr. Ihuoma: Went back to Tunisia. I was only there so that I could get my MPH and at least have people in the marketplace take me seriously when I said, “I want to work in public health.” It’s so funny because I had barely left the London School and the first assignment I applied to do as a consultant was for a program that was being managed by the British Department for International Development. I’m thinking, “Here I was trying to convince people just a couple of years ago that I can do this, I know what to do, but now I have these alphabets next to my name, now I have a job.” So, they hired me right off and I started to work. I went straight to work in public health and that was amazing because it gave me exactly what I wanted. It gave me a nine to five job that was still within healthcare and it gave me the opportunity to continue to parent my children.
It was also during that period that my youngest– so our fourth child, my youngest child has autism. She was diagnosed around the time that I worked in public health. I am so thankful to God that He was around that time, because He gave me time to settle down and understand what was going on, and I’m not going to go into the details of autism and how you know, but many of us as parents of kids with autism, you are in denial for a while because I hadn’t seen a child with autism until my own child was diagnosed. I’d read it in the text books, I have studied it in pediatrics, I knew what it was technically, but that’s all. But working in public health not being in clinical medicine gave me the time I needed to give her the attention she needed early on. It also gave me the opportunity to go back to my boss and say, “I need to step down on my hours. I’d like to work part time in order to give time to my daughter.”
And initially they said to me the position because I had transitioned from being a consultant, by that time I was working full time as a program manager. So, I was a National Technical Program Manager for the program, so it was busy. When I said, “I wanted to work part time,” they said, “That position doesn’t exist part time.” So, I said, “Well, in that case I’m going to resign.” They said, “No, don’t resign. We’ll figure out something.” And they came back to me and said, “You can work part time.” I’m grateful to them for doing that because I was younger, less experienced at the time, now I tell people take resignation off the table, do not resign, fight for a part time position, fight for whatever it is that you can put in and stay.
But at the time that I said, I’m going to resign. I was serious, but they didn’t let me, thank God. So, I went ahead and started. But the other thing I learned from that and I also say this to people is also be very careful when you ask for a part time position because I had a large portfolio of programs I was managing. That portfolio was not halved, my time in the office was halved, my salary was halved, my responsibilities stayed the same. So, they got everything they could from me for half the pay. I just took the rest of my work home. So, I’m still thankful that I had the opportunity or else what would I have done had I been at home. But I still say to people, be very careful when you go to offer part time. Make sure it’s really part time. It’s not part paid for a full-time job.
Jen: Yeah, excellent point and also a terrific point that it is possible to craft something that allows you to balance everything that you can successfully cut your hours back if you choose to or need to and you’re a great example of that. So, that worked for a while and it sounds like you made the best of a difficult situation and took care of your family and the way that you saw that they needed you most. So, did you go from there to the United States, what made you decide to make that transition?
Dr. Ihuoma: So that was all built around my younger daughter. So, she unlike some kids with autism, do really get better and people use the word ‘recovery.’ I just didn’t have one of those kids. So, we put everything we could, all the programs, all the research, whatever we thought we could find. I brought her to the US, we saw a speech pathologist, we went back with the programs, I did everything and anything that someone said would help a child with autism. I remember saying to one of my physicians once, “Look, I’ll do anything as long as it doesn’t hurt my daughter. If you tell me to turn her upside down and shake her three times a day, I will do it.” That’s exactly what I said. I was willing to do anything. But she didn’t recover, she didn’t get better.
At that point, it was clear to us that all paths did lead to the United States and so we made the jump, thinking about this still makes me slightly emotional because I didn’t know I would be here today. We came for two years. I said I’m going to make available to her everything that people say is available. ABA, Applied Behavior Analysis, 40 hours a week. At that point, we had six therapists round the clock working with her anything and everything. So, we moved over here, we all came, my husband, myself, our four kids. We came with two suitcases and one carryon luggage each, that was it. We came for two years. But she didn’t get better and then as we got into the second year it became clear to me, she’s not getting better, she still does have access to the best services that we can get anywhere in the world. So, we do need to stay and these two years I wasn’t working.
I had gone back to being a full-time stay-at-home mom because it was only supposed to be two years. I knew I could do it for two years and then go back. But when it became clear that we were going to have to stay, then I had to figure out, “Okay, what are we going to do.” At that point, I realized we’re going to have to stay in the United States, I’m going to have to be able to work in the United States. I’m a physician, there’s a fixed path for becoming a physician in the US. You’re going to take the USMLE exams, you’re going to apply for residency, and that’s what I did and then my kids once again acquired another degree. We all went through residency and that’s when I got a taste of what it really was and that’s why till this day, I still say my heart goes out to any physician who’s having kids in medical school going through residency, even trying to hold on to a full-time job.
My understanding is there was a time and I don’t know how long ago this was where residency was actually flexible enough where they gave one position to two women. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this before, but I don’t know who told me this. If I had had that option, I’d have taken that. I would have happily taken a six-year residency and done it at half pace, but that option wasn’t available.
Jen: I think that type of option can be negotiated with certain programs that are willing to negotiate that with you. I’m not aware of it being a set program that is fixed, but I think it’s a possibility if someone were to creatively partner up with someone, and the two of them present themselves as a mix. I know that definitely can work for full time positions if you wanted to. Essentially, partner with someone and present yourself as a full-time position that you would split between yourselves, you split the hours and the vacation, however, it works for the two of you. Of course, finding the right person to do that with would be the difficult part. But I think that does exist. I think that’s a really great possibility too, if you know someone especially that you really trust that you could work with and a program and/or job that’s willing. But I think in the private sector especially and perhaps in academics as well I think once you’re out working, it’s definitely a possibility.
Dr. Ihuoma: I think so. I think probably with working, less with training.
Jen: Yeah. So, you went through the rigorous residency program and then beyond that you decided to get an MBA as well. Then you’ve been teaching, you’ve been on faculty in addition to practicing medicine as an internist. Since that time are you doing public health type of work? How do you fit it all together now that you have everything?
Dr. Ihuoma: I wish I had everything-
Dr. Ihuoma: -but I still have done things in pieces. I don’t always do everything at the same time. So, when I finished residency and stayed back as Chief Resident and then eventually joined the faculty as Associate Program Director, I stayed in Academia, because Academia is one of those places where you get a little bit of everything. I love to teach as long as it’s something I enjoy. So, I got to teach medical students, I got to train residents, and by this time, I was already teaching Health Economics at the GW program, which is called the Residency Fellowship in Health Policy. I’ve been doing that for about nine years. I started that I want to say my final year of residency, I think and so that I did while I stayed in Academia.
The reason I eventually left Academia was, this was the point, again you remember I said at the start, I’ve built my life around the mom I needed to be. So, at the time where our oldest son was now getting ready to start college applications, now remember, I did not school in the United States, I didn’t know what the high school, college, everything was. The stories I’ve heard from people were horror stories which is very unfortunate because it wasn’t as bad as they told me. But because I was so scared, I said, “I need to be available. I need to be there.” So, I resigned. I left university and then I went back to public health.
Again, I think public health has been like a comfort place for me because I know it well, I understand it. I also know, it’s a nine to five job, I’m not going to do night, I’m not going to do weekends. So, I went to work for the Health Department in Baltimore City. That was very rewarding in many ways. It gave me of course the schedule I wanted, the flexibility to be able to be there as our oldest started to navigate his way into the college application process. But having known what I knew at that time, I also knew I couldn’t afford to leave clinical medicine completely or else I’d never be able to find my way back. So, one of the things that the Health Department was able to agree to was to gift me the last day of the week off so that I could go work clinically. As I worked for the Health Department, I did those two things, kept my day job and kept some clinical medicine. I only did that, that one day a week, sometimes it will be Friday into Saturday, or just a Saturday, or just Friday evening shift. Whatever shift it was I just needed to keep my hands on patients. So, that’s what I did until we got through my oldest son’s college, my youngest son’s college.
By this time, I felt like a pro. I used to say to the kids, “You know, we should open our own college application agency. We can do this.” But that gave me the flexibility to be able to go back to what I now do, which is I’m back in outpatient medicine, I have a little more time on my hands, we’ve gone through one, two, and three in college now. So, I have my hands around that, but I want to stay clinical for a number of reasons. One, I don’t want to give up my physician career. I love it. But then I really like bedside medicine. I like to be able to look at a patient, look them in the eyes, give them an answer, reach people, there’s just something about bedside medicine that I really appreciate and I don’t ever want to give that up.
Jen: And you’ve mentioned that you also have an interest in entrepreneurship, which I think also plays into something that you’re working on currently that you’re just launching. Can you tell us about that?
Dr. Ihuoma: Yes, I can. With everything we’ve talked about, you can see I want to be a mom. I really, really want to continue to be a mom. I really, really want to be a physician. And over the years, I’ve seen how difficult it’s been to stay in and out and try to figure out the balance. So, at the point of which I am now after what 23 years and counting, I look back and I look at women who I used to be, and I realized we need to do a better job of making this profession amenable to people staying. 2020 made people, someone referred to it as the great resignation. I know the proportion of people who either left or are considering leaving healthcare is a lot.
Let me step back a little bit, towards the time when I was transitioning from Academia to public health, and then of course eventually back to clinical medicine, I started to think about the business of medicine, I started to think about how frustrated I was trying to hold on to a clinical job and how hard it was just to do that and be a mom. I was also tired of going to meetings where I had an opinion or someone else had an opinion as a physician on how the business was going and you were literally told like, “Hey, just take your stethoscope and go back to the clinic. Go do what you really know how to do.” I wanted to know what it was they thought they knew and I didn’t know. That’s why I applied to business school.
When I went into business school, I went with the plan of I’ve had enough of this, I’m not taking any more of this medicine, I can’t do this anymore, I’ll just do what I can, and I’m going to find for myself an exit strategy. Halfway through, I’ve realized that was not what I wanted. I love being a physician. I’m not going to get crowded out of medicine, I’m not giving this off to someone else, I will not abdicate my responsibility. This is my profession. So, the more I studied it, the more I learned, I didn’t do a Healthcare MBA, which is what most physicians do when they go to business school. I just did a regular financial MBA. So, my classmates were not physicians at all. I did not go to an MBA that was being dumbed down for the healthcare professionals.
The people I was studying with were intimidating me every single day. But I had to step up to the plate and learn. So, I did a regular MBA and I got to learn from all these people in other industries that were making it work. Every day I said to myself, “We can do that. I’m sure medicine can do that.” So, by the time I finished, I said to myself, “We’re going to make this work. We’re going to make a healthcare environment that works for everyone.” Not just the patient, we always talk about, “Oh, it’s the patient.” I agree. The patient is important. But the provider is important too. And it’s not just run the organization into the ground just because we want to make the patient and the provider happy, no. The business has to stay afloat. So, I want to be able to stand in that space.
I have always said to people, I kind of consider myself like a physician whisperer when it comes to the business of medicine, because I feel like I understand it. I feel like I’ve invested enough time to see the different parts. I’ve seen it at a system level, I’ve seen it at organization level, I’ve seen it as a patient to provide a level. So, what we’re doing with WeHealth is we’re trying to build a partnership of people who believe that healthcare can work for everyone. For the mom who wants to be a mom, even for the person who doesn’t want to be a mom, but wants to have a regular life with other things doing, we can make this work, and we can do that while still making a profit. We can do that while still giving patients an experience they appreciate. Because right now, this cookie cutter type of practice that we see in many places, we think it’s profitable, it’s lose-lose. The patients aren’t happy, they’re really not, neither are the providers, but we can do better. That’s what we’re trying to find. That’s what WeHealth is set up to do.
Jen: I love that. We will link in the show notes to the ways that people can reach you to find out more. I think it’s a wonderful mission that you’re on and everything you’ve done up until now makes sense for what you’re doing going forward. Has it all been worth it?
Dr. Ihuoma: Oh, it has. It’s so has. I don’t know if you read it. I think it might have been online. There was an essay, a Dr. Charles Black, I believe his name, a surgeon wrote called “Medicine is worth the sacrifice as long as you don’t sacrifice yourself.” It was very interesting. I think back and I realized I didn’t sacrifice myself. I did sacrifice some aspects of my career, I did sacrifice some money I could have made, maybe some investments, but ultimately, I didn’t sacrifice myself. I found myself. I was able to build who I am today, be happy with who I turned out to be. It was absolutely worth it.
Jen: Dr. Ihuoma Emenuga, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, I love what you’re doing, I appreciate your time so very much and look forward to talking with you again absolutely.
Dr. Ihuoma: Thank you, Jen. Thanks so much for having me.
Jen: As a busy physician, you’re managing a lot. A lot of people depend on you. Your patients, your colleagues, and staff, your family, to get up every day and do all of the things that you do is an accomplishment. But when is the last time you stopped and thought about ‘where am I going with this, what would I like to see for myself in one year, in five years, in 10 years?’ What if you had a group of experienced coaches and a community of physicians there to support you, to help you figure out what matters to you not just at this point in your life, but going forward this year, next year, indefinitely. What if you had that support to help you find a way to integrate what matters to you in your career or with what matters to you outside of work?
Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you for being here. Please check us out at docworking.com and please don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you for listening.