CAROLINE ROBINSON MD
What compelled you to start Tone Dermatology and to pursue your various entrepreneurial ventures?
As an African American woman in dermatology, I feel like I have a unique lens. I have seen the amazing innovation and positive impact dermatologic care can have. I also see the access issues and the lack of dermatologic literacy that exists in many underserved areas because that’s where I’m from. I guess you can say that I started Tone for people like me. I wanted an approachable and accessible community practice. I wanted a practice that would be seamless and innovative yet empathetic and warm. I wanted something specifically for the uninsured, underinsured, and underrepresented women and men of Chicago, allowing them to feel empowered to care for their skin and hair.
What have been the biggest challenges and rewards you have encountered as a physician and entrepreneur?
There has definitely been a steep learning curve transitioning from practicing medicine to also being a business owner. The biggest challenge has been getting used to not knowing everything. The reality is that we prepare for years and years to be physicians but training in ownership is lacking. I had to quickly become familiar with the language and trust people who were more knowledgeable in their respective fields to join and collaborate on my team. The biggest reward is seeing the support from my team and colleagues and seeing what we are able to accomplish together as a community.
What message do you wish to impart on those that want to follow in your footsteps and start a personal brand in medicine, but don’t know where to start?
My first piece of advice is to just start. Many of us are vulnerable to spending a lot of time doubting ourselves and our ideas, especially women and minorities. Your ideas are valid and the world needs them. Start by making a commitment to believe in and invest in yourself. Once you are mentally committed, you will be surprised how much easier the next steps become. I encourage anyone wanting to start a business in medicine to reach out to several like minded peers who have done the same. Hear their experiences both good and bad and develop a plan. The great thing is that there are so many of us who have taken this leap. You are not alone and you definitely don’t have to recreate the wheel.
MIRI LEE OTD OTR/L
What compelled you to create content and resources for occupational therapy students? What type of resources do you currently provide for your audience?
I was inspired to create the OT Miri YouTube channel when I learned that I did not pass the NBCOT® Exam. It was a time of great stress, disappointment, and panic. I was desperate to pass and was willing to give it my all, but every resource and exam prep had a price tag on it and the weight of the financial burden that came with the cost of the exam, in addition to the mounting student debt, made me feel like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this way, so I promised myself that if and when I passed the NBCOT® Exam, I would do everything in my power to give back to my community so that no other student would feel the desperation, loneliness, and anxiety I had once felt.
What simply started as a desire to help others launched a worldwide platform where individuals can come together to connect, learn, and share resources in pursuit of a common goal and passion: to become an occupational therapy practitioner. Today, I am privileged to be able to share my resources, passion, and knowledge in support of occupational therapy students and new grads who are making their transition from being a student to entry level practitioner.
What have been your biggest hardships as an OTpreneur, and how have you overcome them?
If OTpreneur is short for OT Entrepreneur, I’m not sure that I would consider myself an OTpreneur. “OT Miri” as an entity doesn’t have a financial business model, and is instead a platform offering free services and content. And while it is my mission to continue offering all my content for free, this is also one of the most challenging aspects of sustaining this project. It requires a tremendous amount of personal time, energy, and money to produce the content and make it available through a secure, robust platform. If only I had an infinite amount of time and money to pour into this community. Until then, it will take a lot of creativity and resourcefulness to balance and sustain this project alongside the demands of my work and family obligations.
What message do you wish to impart on those starting out in occupational therapy and/or any career/project they are passionate about but are afraid of failing?
For this question, I would like to share my two go-to quotes that I come back to each time I have self doubt or struggle with imposter syndrome:
“Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill