Dr Ricardo Tavares (RT) and Dr Christopher Nordstrom (CN) are both practising doctors with many years of experience in education. Being committed to widening access into medicine for those from a range of different backgrounds, they established The Medic Portal and partnered with the Royal Society of Medicine. Every year, they work with thousands of students and hundreds of schools across 3 continents.
The Medic Portal (http://www.themedicportal.com/) platform aims to:
RT: I am a co-founder of The Medic Portal, a practising doctor at The Lister Hospital in Chelsea (on average 1 shift a week) and a Clinical Tutor for the University of Buckingham (occasional teaching sessions on their clinical MD Programme).
CN: I am also a co-founder of The Medic Portal and a Senior Registrar in Emergency Medicine at Ealing Hospital in London.
RT: TMP started initially when we wanted to formalise our passion for teaching in area where what was on offer was lacking in quality. Getting into medical school is very competitive, yet many students are ill equipped throughout the process – we set out to make that not the case and break down barriers in applying to medicine – in the space of 2 years we have officially partnered with the Royal Society of Medicine, teach over 3,000 students a year across 3 continents and raised £0.5 million in investment. The big vision is to become the highest quality name in the pre-medical school education space globally and enable people to seriously consider a career in medicine who would not have otherwise.
RT: Most rewarding is without doubt helping people fulfil their dreams of getting into medical school. We have an excellent track record of this and helped hundreds of students who would not have ever considered the career.
CN: Working with aspiring medics from a range of backgrounds is both rewarding and challenging. Each person is unique, presenting different challenges. It is incredibly rewarding working with the students, seeing them develop and finally secure a place to study medicine. Their gratitude towards you is incredible – and their joy, and often surprise, fantastic.
The greatest challenge has been converting the idea into reality. There are so many aspects that need to be considered – simply having a good product isn’t enough. You need to get it out there – telling the world what you have. Another area which poses a challenge is widening participation and access into medicine. Finding those who most need and deserve your help, especially with a limited budget, to help them when they have no other resources to turn to.
RT: I think it has been a huge advantage. Firstly TMP is very much related to medicine, but also the skills one learns during a medical career, such as prioritisation, working in a team and teaching have been invaluable to our success.
CN: Medicine provides you with a range of transferable skills, including leadership and management skills as well as the ability to prioritise and work under pressure. Transferring these into business has been smooth, and equally business has provided a range of skills to transfer back into medicine! As a senior registrar in emergency medicine a significant part of my role is managing and running a busy emergency department, working with a team of junior doctors under pressure – similar to running a business! The relationship between medicine and business is a symbiotic one.
RT: Selling, developing and enhancing teaching skills, leadership and marketing.
CN: Creating and managing a team of employees, dealing with all aspects and challenges this brings. Balancing my time efficiently between numerous projects. Creating and developing teaching modules for the aptitude tests required for entry into medical school.
RT: TMP is a medical education business so I feel like I am always around medicine. When I am not treating patients I am teaching future generations of doctors, so I am still immersed full time in the world of medicine.
CN: I don’t consider it as part time training, but simply an extension of medicine. Medical education is an established, and important, part of all doctors’ job descriptions. I however focus approximately half of my time on clinical work and half on medical education.
RT: School visits – both around the UK and globally;
Talking at a conference;
Working closely with TMP’s team to ensure we continue to meet our targets and reach as many students as we can.
CN: My typical week is incredibly variable! It includes a combination of clinical work, lecturing (both in the UK, Middle East and Far East), working with my team of academic content generators to create new learning modules and questions, meeting with the other co-founders to discuss higher level marketing and sales strategies and finally managing the company finances.
RT: I have always been a hugely motivated person and am driven by creating something I can look back on and be proud off. Failure has always been my biggest motivational tool. I have been fortunate enough to have close friends who have launched hugely successful companies, and I have taken inspiration from all of them, in particular Samir Desai, a good friend of mine who co-founded Funding Circle, who has provided invaluable advice along the way.
CN: The excitement in life comes from the chase. My biggest fear in life is regret – waking up one day and thinking I didn’t dedicate myself enough or push myself to discover new and exciting things. The business provides me with a creative outlet – designing new programmes and courses as well as travelling the world to deliver them. I come from a line of entrepreneurs including my father and grandfather – neither who have yet retired. Even at 85 my grandfather enjoys the challenges of being an entrepreneur – as he says ‘you can sleep when you’re dead’. Keeping your mind active and pushing yourself to your limits keeps you sane and alive.
RT: To follow your passion and understand that medicine equips you with skills you do not realise you have until you start your own business.
CN: Never give up and always keep going. Overcoming hurdles makes you stronger. There is no event in my life, however negative, that I regret now. By not having gone through them I would not be who I am.
RT: Don’t be afraid to take risks. Life is short and before you know it opportunities pass you by.
CN: It’s a phrase I hear all too often – I want to start a business. My advice now is ‘so do it!’. If you’re not willing to take (calculated) risks then you will never have great fulfilment.
RT: You are very welcome!
CN: Thank you for inviting us, Evgenia.