The Physician Philosopher Podcast
Practicing Medicine On Your Own Terms with Dr. Vikram Raya
Physicians that have carved out a life they love through entrepreneurship have one major thing in common: they work on their mindset.
I once had massive skepticism about mindset work and coaching. But there’s a reason why people say that when it comes to personal finance, it’s 20% math, 80% mindset. If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ve come to hear that phrase over and over and over.
But until we take that leap of faith and try it, we don’t quite understand what it means when people say they’re working on their mindset, or the place it has in the entrepreneur journey.
Dr. Vikram Raya’s journey to becoming a physician entrepreneur is a prime example of this. After realizing he wanted to practice medicine on his own terms, he did the mindset work, took leaps of faith, and strategized his way through calculated risks to create his own path as a multihyphenate in medicine.
Who Dr. Vikram Raya is
Dr. Vikram Raya is a cardiologist, functional medicine physician, and serial entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Viking Capital Investments, which is a company that allows doctors to invest in passive real estate opportunities. To date, they’ve raised over $650 million as a private equity firm.
Because of his family’s history of heart-related illness – six family members died of heart attacks, and his own father collapsed at his son’s first birthday party – cardiology seemed like the natural specialty choice when Dr. Raya entered medicine.
Cardiology fellowship was fun and enjoyable for Dr. Raya, but it was during this period of his medical training that he first noticed the work-life balance of his attending physicians. So many of them had call after call, procedure after procedure with no break. It was a grueling lifestyle largely driven by financial motivators. That’s when Dr. Raya realized, “This can’t be my life.”
He didn’t want his clinical decisions to be influenced by his financial decisions, and he didn’t want medicine to be his sole mode of income. He wanted to do something different.
How Dr. Raya found entrepreneurship
Dr. Raya wasn’t an entrepreneur at heart. He’d never been one to read business books, and he didn’t learn anything about entrepreneurship in medical school.
The first step on his entrepreneur journey came in fellowship, when he was moonlighting at a facility that needed more physician help. He offered to provide more support, entered a contractual agreement, and recruited some of his cardiology colleagues to work under his moonlighting umbrella.
He knew that he was onto something, and that if he was still practicing by the age of 40, that something had gone wrong. He wasn’t willing to tolerate all his money coming from cardiology, or to be on call every fourth weekend of the rest of his life.
Dr. Raya made these declarations for himself, and he recommends that physicians “make a declaration in their life of what they stand for, what they want, and what they’re willing to tolerate, because what you tolerate is what you get.”
Taking greater strides in the entrepreneur journey
Dr. Raya started reading Robert Kiyosaki’s books, attended a Tony Robbins conference, and made a commitment to investing in his mindset. Eventually, his mind started to pay him back with ideas about real estate investment.
Instead of coming home after calls or a busy weekend clinic, Dr. Raya would sneak away to learn about real estate investment. He considered buying a house or two on the side. He worked on his mindset and started planting these seeds knowing they would take five to ten years to grow, but that when they bore fruit, it would be well worth the wait.
People have this idea of entrepreneurship that you dive in blindly and hope that you land on your feet. But the reality is that most physicians start side hustles while they have a clinical practice, just like Dr. Raya did.
From cardiology to $650 million as a physician entrepreneur
I asked Dr. Raya how he went from being a full-time cardiologist to having a $650 million real estate fund. He said it came down to these things:
- Vision boards – And yes, his wife used to make fun of him, until it became obvious that anything he put on the vision board would come to life. His version of vision boards was taking an old piece of cardboard, numbering it with 5-10 lines of things he wanted to create. Then he’d tape it to the mirror or someplace he’d see it every day, as a way to consistently program his mind to subconsciously influence his decisions and actions.
- Choosing his influences carefully – Dr. Raya had a lot of friends in medicine who didn’t necessarily understand his entrepreneur journey. People shared input like, “That’s not going to work,” “That doesn’t make sense,” or “You’re working too hard, take this guys’ trip with me.” He had to stay true to his vision and values and cultivate a strong enough mindset to know that his life was going to look a lot different from anyone around him.
Practice medicine on your own terms
In fourth grade, Dr. Raya learned about Leonardo da Vinci. Just recently when he was in Italy, he got to see da Vinci’s old stomping grounds in Florence, Milan and Rome. He was a scientist, an artist, and a poet. And Dr. Raya felt inspired. He knew he wanted to be expansive in his identity.
Dr. Raya knew he was meant for more than the label of cardiologist, all tied up in a neat and tidy box. It’s why he went into functional medicine, where he could take a more preventive rather than reactive role in medicine.
He says, “Sometimes your dreams are not your destiny. I thought my dream was to be a cardiologist. Then it was like, Oh, now my dream was to be a functional cardiologist. No, actually my dream is to be a real estate tycoon. Wait, it’s to be a high-performance coach. But really, it’s all of that.”
What happens when you master both your money and your mindset? You get to practice medicine on your terms.
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