Tell us about your expertise and experience in emergency medicine and resuscitation.
I was attracted to Emergency Medicine very early on because I always wanted to be the person on the frontline. The intensity of the ER keeps me energized and eager to come into work every day. However, what solidified the specialty choice for me was the fact that I have a strong health policy and entrepreneurial interest. The population focus of Emergency Room Physicians allows me to stay in touch with the communities needs which I then try and address through my outside interests.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
Being a resident, I am always reading material on critical care and resuscitation, so one book I am currently reading is "Decision Making in Emergency Critical Care" by Dr. John Arbo. Other books that I'm reading for pleasure include "Deep Medicine" by Dr. Eric Topol, "Ten Drugs" by Dr. Thomas Hager, and "Thirst" by Scott Harrison.
What advice do you have for medical students who are interested in entrepreneurial pursuits?
Being a student or resident that is interested in entrepreneurship is very difficult. We as trainees have several barriers to becoming involved in the business world and there are not a lot of opportunities. I would first suggest that medical students consider finding internships at companies or other unique opportunities that give them valuable experience in their specific field of interest. It's also important to explore different degree options such as MBA, MPH, MMM, etc. These options usually require that you take some time off of medical school which is understandably a scary thought for most students. I personally took a year off in medical school for a lobbying and advocacy fellowship in our nation's capital and I consider it to be one of the better decisions I have made in my education. If you are not looking to take time off, then I would suggest involvement in the Physician Innovation Network which can connect you to industry leaders and provide valuable education and experience. The unique educational webinars and meetups specifically provided for medical students is an incredible resource that everyone should explore.
Who inspires you and why?
In light of the current COVID pandemic, I have had a change in perspective. I find the most inspiring people in my life to be my fellow clinicians and staff at the patient's bedside during this crisis. The compassion and dedication exemplified by the front line staff is the most inspiring thing I have ever witnessed. They go into work every day, some times without proper protective equipment, and treat patients fully knowing they could contract the virus themselves. They don't ask for extra pay or easier workloads. In fact, many of them are volunteering extra hours or find other ways to help such as telemedicine visits. They are some of the hardest working and selfless people I have ever seen and I'm honored to be on their team.
What was/has been the most trying or difficult aspect of medical training?
One of the more difficult aspects of medical training has been the need to put aside other interests and focus on learning and clinical work. I always have been a strong believer in being a physician first and an advocate/entrepreneur second. However, forcing myself to put projects on the back burner or to turn down opportunities in order to focus on education has been difficult. A common error that many students make is taking on too many projects and becoming overloaded. My suggestion to students would be to focus on one to two projects that really inspire you and to let the other projects go even if it's difficult to do so.
What small thing makes you happy?
Ever since I did a wildness medicine rotation in medical school, I have found that nature is a necessity for me. I chose to move to New York City for EM training and it has really made me miss and appreciate the outdoors so much more.
The Physician Innovation Network thanks Dr. Clifford for his frontline work during the COVID-19 pandemic.