👩🏼⚕️ Doctorpreneurs: Dr Alice Pearlman 🏉
This week's Doctorpreneur of Doctology is Dr Alice Pearlman.
Alice grew-up in North-West NSW on a farm with her two brothers (who are both doctors) and currently works as a Medical Registrar at Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney.
She wishes to pursue a career in cardiology with an interest in rural and regional medicine, and has had a keen interest in sports medicine and concussion having worked with the NSW Waratahs, and various rugby teams in Sydney, which led her to the development of the app SidelinesDr.
What organisation / startup did you found?
What is its noble purpose? SidelinesDr is a digital database to accurately record and manage injuries including concussions.
The app aims to provide continuity of care in an area where there currently is no reliable way to provide up-to-date, accurate accounts of a player's medical history.
This provides on-the-spot information to manage players from initial injury, through their rehabilitation and beyond their sporting career.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
I grew up on a farm in North-West NSW, near a town called North Star. Both my parents' families are from this region and it is a very supportive community. We are lucky to have grown up in such an amazing place.
Our local primary school had around 50 kids and two teachers and this mostly consisted of kids on the land. It was a fantastic local school and we were lucky to have been exposed to great teachers in such a little town. One of my favourite activities was our one hour bus ride home when our bus driver would let us out on the dirt road to race the bus home between opening gates - definitely not allowed now!
Our childhood was spent outside, mustering, helping dad out with the tractors, anything outdoors- climbing trees, riding horses, water skiing. I have two brothers both who are now doctors, they are both very creative and we spent a lot of time as kids inventing and building various things. I have to say my older brother was well ahead of the big four banks and was the first to develop internet banking as it was a vital part of our massive lego set-up as a child!
We were fortunate to have very supportive parents who wanted us to be able to experience the same activities that people in the city had - we swam, played tennis, and Saturday sport in our local town, Goondiwindi.
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it? I am yet to be fully reimbursed but I sure payment was in experience and life lessons.
Growing up on a farm meant you were always working in some capacity. This ranged from the mundane such as stick picking (as detailed as the name suggests), chipping burs (weeds between rows of cotton in 40 degree heat), mustering cattle or driving the John Deer Header and harvesting the winter wheat crop (one of my highlights). This particular job had a certain energy and sense of achievement especially in a good season and when the harvest was complete.
One of my favourite harvests was driving a tractor with my 88 year-old grandpa (at the time), one of the pioneers of our district. He was very forward thinking for his time and has taught me a lot about the land, it was incredible to think how physical the job was in their time.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what specialty did you choose? Why? I never thought I was 'smart' enough to do medicine when I left school, nor did I consider it an option. All I wanted to do was go to uni and have fun.
I completed an undergraduate degree in Science and early on realised how much I enjoyed physiology and anatomy. I like being involved in decision making and enjoy talking to people so drew me to a career in medicine.
I am a medical registrar now completing my basic training but plan to pursue a career in Cardiology, with a goal to work regionally long term - specialists are in short supply in regional and remote Australia and often patients can't leave their local areas to attend specialists in the city. I feel really passionate about being able to bring my skills back to these areas.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur or follow an alternative route? When exactly did you decide?
My older brother is the "Medtech" Guru and I helped him out a bit when he was first starting MedApps, at the time we were sharing a house in Terrigal, he was an intern and I was a fourth year medical student. I helped with implementation and linking some content for him in the embryonic stages of MedApps and found all the data side very useful.
I think doctors are problem solvers. My app idea came to me after an incident I noticed when I was on the Sidelines of a Rugby Game in Sydney. I ran the idea by a few colleagues and the idea grew legs from there. I do not consider myself an entrepreneur as such but I like finding solutions to problems.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes, do you intend to stop if your organisation or project takes off?
I am currently a Medical Registrar at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. I plan to continue working in clinical medicine. I took some time off to get this project up and running and I missed clinical medicine too much. Thats where I am the most happy.
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship? Or at least they are perceived to? I think the struggle is balancing your clinical role and your startup. It is really tough, and something I underestimated. I think doctors are scared to leave the umbilical cord of the hospital, I know I certainly was.
The idea for SidlinesDr grew when I was midway through my residency. It was taking a bit of time and distracting from my day job. My brother had taken the leap away from clinical medicine to pursue MedApps full-time post residency so at least I had a n=1 model to follow that life is ok when you cut off the umbilical cord from the hospital.
I really struggled the first few months being away as I was scared people at the hospital would "forget me" and it would be "career suicide".
I think it was the opposite and has actually been really beneficial. I have seen life on the other-side. It taught me great managerial and business skills but I am personally more comfortable in the hospital but know that is not the same for everyone!
What is your favourite quote?
I am not really a quote person but these were buried in my notes section on my phone. I think the first one is my favourite.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage".
"Chance favours the prepared mind".
"Healthy discontent is the prelude to progress".
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
I probably would miss the whole event!
You can find out more about SidelinesDr here:
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