An Ode to the Student Doctor
Dear veiled bride of the grind.
Studious team of sun-kissed genus.
Generations of escorts to join Asclepius; house staff and serpentine.
Do not fear, for when the veil is lifted, they will only see genius.
According to USA Today, the proportion of medical students who identify as African-American or black rose from 5.6% in 1980 to 7.7% in 2016. Although the growth is substantial, it still falls short of the number of African- Americans in the general population; 13.2% of the United States population identifies with the black community.
Enter The Student Doctor, a company that is both serving the medical community at large, and blazing a trail that can be used by people who look like them.
The Student Doctor is a company founded nearly two years ago by three close friends and future physicians whose goal was to help pre-medical students apply to medical school as they did. What started as a mere side hustle, and labor of love soon catapulted them to traveling around the country to connect with hundreds of students.
Today the company is growing its portfolio of highly coveted products at a breakneck pace; the portfolio, which when combined with The Pre-Medical Student Journal, will create an ecosystem of solutions engineered to make life easier for the next generation of aspiring medical professionals.
Bethsaida Group sat down with the co-founder, Stacia, to learn more about the company and some of the challenges she and her partners have faced while working to grow it. Takeaways from the interview are included below.
Jason Green: What exactly is The Student Doctor?
Stacia Rowe: We were founded towards the end of 2017, and we opened an online store that sells apparel and a pre-medical student journal. We initially wanted to make medical school planners, but ultimately decided on pre-medical. Today, the journal is our top seller; it serves as a guide to take the mission out of admission. It provides an alternative to reading a book about how somebody conquered an array of challenges to get into medical school; students now have the ability to fill in blanks with information specific to themselves.
Green: Why do you think there was a demand for an alternative to the typical book about medical school success stories?
Rowe: Well, our theory is that students who are filling out applications to medical school are struggling to recollect everything they’ve done. Med school applications ask about what we’ve done but it’s just not in our nature to write down all of our accomplishments. I personally can remember pulling my hair out trying to remember all my activities while working to answer questions. We thought this product would help to solve that problem for others. The journal has a wide array of additional features as well. For example, we have an MCAT score tracking sheet for those doing practice exams, and we also built in a crisis worksheet to help students develop a new plan when they don’t do well in something like a class or an exam.
Green: What are three challenges you’ve dealt with in the early stages of the business. How did you overcome it?
- Imposter Syndrome: Early on, we were getting anonymous messages from people who were questioning how qualified we were to do this. As a matter of fact, those people weren’t able to see the faces behind the brand. Honestly, we think they would’ve been even more skeptical if they knew the founders were three young black women. So, having to overcome the basic symptoms of imposter syndrome was one of our earliest challenges. There was actually a point where we would be approached at trade shows and people would assume we were the employees of the company. Honestly, we were at a point where we would just agree with them and say yes we were employees. We actually still struggle with this today.
- Money: We had to learn about hidden costs the hard way! Early on, we had products coming in from overseas, we priced out as much as we could beforehand, but we forgot to account for taxes. We ended up having to scramble for support to pay the surprise fees associated with the taxes as well. For example, we had to pay storage fees for each day the product was held while taxes were waiting to be paid.
- Finding a good team: We were actually in school when we started the company and we’re all still in school today. We needed to find a support team filled with people who both understood our vision and were able to execute accurately. This need actually has overlapped with the money challenge mentioned earlier. We realized good talent will always require more money so we’re pushing through making sure we’re doing this the right way.
Green: What does the future look like for you ladies?
Rowe: We’re working to publish our software solution! We’re really excited about it, as it will be adding on additional layers of community and engagement. Ultimately, we think our product is the missing piece that people didn’t realize they needed. We picture a future where our product will be as essential to the pre-medical student as pen and paper.
Green: What words of encouragement do you have for black millennials reading about your journey to becoming a physician while starting a company?
Rowe: Don’t give up, ignore the naysayers, there’s always room for one more!