Doctorpreneurs: Dr Amy Imms
Doctorpreneurs of Doctology is pleased this week to showcase an interview with Dr Amy Imms.
Amy followed a standard pathway of internship, residency, then GP training, before some big life events lead her head off the beaten track to pursue her true passion.
She now runs a business helping burnt-out professionals manage their burnout to have a sustainable career, and to regain a feeling of contentment and joy.
Her mission is to normalise mental health challenges, and to encourage people to spend as much time on their mental health as their physical health.
What organisation / startup did you found?
I run a business helping burnt-out professionals create and implement a management plan so that they can have a sustainable career, strong relationships, joy and contentment.
I know that accessing services for burnout can be challenging when people are working full time and busy, so I have structured my work such that I can see clients outside of standard work hours, and can usually fit them in at short notice.
What is its noble purpose?
To help people have a strong and successful career without sacrificing their mental health, relationships, and the things they value outside of their work.
I want to make it acceptable and normal for everyone to spend as much time and effort on maintaining and addressing mental health as they do their physical health.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
I was raised in a small country town in Southern Tasmania by my nature-loving, left-wing parents. Dad was a country GP, and Mum was a psychologist, journalist and teacher.
I was homeschooled along with my three siblings, and we spent our days exploring the local bush and waterways. We’d sit and watch dolphins playing out the front of our house, and had a multitude of injured native wildlife as our temporary pets as they recovered.
My parents encouraged us to think openly and critically, and I developed a strong sense of independence and self-motivation. I was drawn to science and psychology, and had no interest in medicine until grade 12 (at which point Dad tried to talk me out of it!).
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it?
I worked for family friends who ran a sheepskin slipper stall at the famous Hobart Salamanca Markets when I was about 16, and taught piano lessons around the same time.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what speciality did you choose?
My interest in science, combined with the loss of several family members from cancer, had drawn me toward a career in medical research. But at the last minute, I was concerned about being stuck in a lab getting lonely, and decided I’d rather work directly with patients.
I was quite risk-averse, and liked the idea of doing a degree that lead clearly to a specific career path. It never occurred to me to consider anything other than a traditional specialty pathway, and I was drawn to options that offered a lot of variety - Emergency Medicine, Paediatrics, and General Practice.
I chose General Practice in the end, hoping for a varied and challenging career establishing long-term patient relationships.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur? When exactly did you decide?
After a couple of years working as a GP, I came to the realisation that I was never going to love it. I remember hearing someone talk about how it’s helpful to know if you’re a ‘big picture’ person, or a ‘details’ person. I realised that I am actually a ‘big picture’ person, and love dreaming up big ideas making big plans, and being creative.
I love dealing with health from a community or global perspective, and considering societal and political factors. Three years ago all these thought processes lead me to a place i never thought I’d be - entering the world of entrepreneurship! The more I found out about it, the more I loved it - creating, designing, marketing, learning, and the level of control over my career.
I have really enjoyed being able to take the area of medicine I am most passionate about, and focussing in on finding the best ways that I can help people with that. It’s funny to think back to how hard it sometimes was to get motivated to study in the past - now, I have the opposite problem: knowing when to stop! I mostly work from home, and frequently get so absorbed in researching and planning that I have stayed up too late yet again.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes do you intend to stop if your organisation takes off?
I continue to work in the niche medical area of burnout and mental wellbeing. I love my direct client work as well as the non-clinical aspects, and I don’t think I would ever like to leave clinical medicine entirely. I enjoy building relationships, and there is no greater feeling than when I see a client have a complete change in outlook.
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship?
I think many doctors enjoy the security of a steady income, and most have minimal business skills, which leaves entrepreneurship outside their comfort zone. Quite a few of us prefer to avoid money altogether, and focus on helping patients, leaving the financial side of things to reception staff and practice managers. It took me a while to be comfortable directly accepting money in exchange for my skills and services.
What is your favourite quote?
“A person should design the way he makes a living around how he wishes to make a life".
I spent many years letting study and work dominate, and trying to somehow cram everything else I wanted out of life into the tiny pockets of remaining time and energy.
More recently, I have carefully considered every aspect of my career to match my priorities and values.
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
One of my favourite areas of medicine is preventative medicine, so I would have stopped it before it even started!