Tips for Students On Speaking to Physician Inventors

On Thursday, March 28, 2024, AlligatorZone will feature a physician inventor in a live in-person event. School students will have the opportunity not only to see and learn about an innovative surgical device that’s “a better way to fix a broken hip,” in the words of its co-inventor Dr. Anjan R. Shah, MD, but also get to chat informally with the speaker. 

AlligatorZone’s events are also industry networking events for young students where a community gathers around an entrepreneur, and many of them wait to speak to the presenter after the session.

The one key aspect of AlligatorZone events is that the founders, entrepreneurs and inventors who make an appearance as featured speakers, are highly accomplished professionals, who, despite very hectic lives make the time to have mindful conversations with attendees once their presentation is done, especially with the younger members of the audience.

It’s a little different with physician inventors and physician entrepreneurs. They have often added new knowledge during their practice of medicine and figured out a better way to do their work or transform their industry. They would have figured out how to protect their invention and bring it to the market. They may have a keen sense of which among their inventions is worth pursuing due to their busy schedule. They may have picked up entrepreneurial skills while being a physician.

For those who are able to attend our event on March 28th in person, here is how a student can make most of the opportunity to talk to a physician inventor.

  • Do your homework on the speaker: The presenter is a physician inventor. That means you are in the presence of a creative problem solver who has invested years in learning medicine, and in the practice of medicine. In this case, the physician is a leading orthopedic trauma surgeon.
  • Do your homework on the problem the inventor is solving. Read up a little on how hip surgeries are done so that you can understand the speaker better or ask well informed questions to understand his invention while he showcases it.
  • Prepare for a conversation with the featured speaker. Aim to impress from the get-go, especially if you are a student because every opportunity to speak to an accomplished industry professional is an opportunity to improve your communication skills. Prepare a short crisp self-introduction and practice it. Deliver your self-introduction with confidence and a smile before you ask your question. Use simple language when you ask your questions.
  • Prepare to ask about the inventing process. Inventing something, making it a product and marketing it is not something that is typically taught in med schools to the best of our knowledge. You can learn a lot about how a physician with specific knowledge and expertise decides to also become an inventor.
  • Any ask must be clear and straightforward. Have a clear ask especially if you are looking for guidance in the form of insights into their field of specialization, mentoring or seeking shadowing opportunities (be prepared mentally for your request to be declined, and graciously accept it).
  • Be considerate. A physician inventor is very likely coming to the event after a day of seeing patients or conducting surgeries. Be patient and respectful in asking your questions. Be respectful of the presenter’s time and also be considerate to the others waiting to speak to the presenter after you.
  • Be helpful. Inventors rarely get to hear from a broader audience of people outside their field, so you too have something of value to offer them. Share any insights that might come to your mind about the inventor’s product. Inventors and entrepreneurs always look for feedback and want to improve both, their product, and how they communicate the value of their product.

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