Dr. Onyekachi Nwabuko Discusses His Successful Career In Medicine and His New Business In the Tampa Bay Area.
Emergency medicine physician Dr. Onyekachi Nwabuko grew up in the Chicago and NW Indiana area. After graduating from the University of Chicago, Dr. Nwabuko attended medical school in Cambridge, UK before returning to the U.S.A to complete his medical training at the University of South Carolina in Greenville.
Dr. Nwabuko has always been passionate about science and helping others. As a physician, he can combine these passions while also serving his community. He has been an emergency medicine doctor for over thirteen years. In addition to working with patients in the emergency room, Dr. Nwabuko has owned a real estate business for five years. He is currently working on bringing his own practice to the Tampa Bay area.
As an emergency medical doctor, what are your daily activities?
I would define myself as a team leader. As an emergency physician, I am in charge of diagnosing a patient who comes through our emergency room. It is my job to make sure the diagnosis is correct and effectively screen the patient to figure out if further medical attention is needed or if they can be safely discharged. It’s important to get that diagnosis right because a patient’s life could depend on it.
What inspired you to go this route?
Growing up, there were two things I was passionate about: the science and helping people. Being a physician is a perfect combination of the two. Medicine gave me the avenue to do both because I love learning about the human body and how it works. And since I enjoy meeting people, it’s also a great opportunity to interact with people from various backgrounds.
What defines your approach to patients?
Just being genuine about what I do. It has never been about the money for me because I have volunteered quite a bit of my time without anything in exchange. Also, you always have to put the patient first and establish a healthy doctor-patient relationship. Communication is a key to building that relationship and to earn your patient’s trust.
What are the keys to being productive in such a busy environment?
Have a plan and stick to it. Be flexible but don’t allow yourself to get distracted from your goals. If you do, you are potentially introducing yourself to all sorts of unnecessary obstacles. Work hard and be a great team player. When faced with challenges, don’t give up until you have overcome them.
What is one long term goal that you have for your career?
I want to retire on my own terms and spend more time with my family. I’ve seen too many health care providers who stick around too long. They no longer find joy in what they do but show up to work regardless. I never want to be in that situation.
How do you measure success?
I measure success by personal reflection. Meaning if you can look in the mirror and be proud of who you’ve become and what you’ve done with your life, that’s success.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
Everything changes, and those changes aren’t always for the better. Healthcare is not what it used to be. As physicians we are expected to operate in a broken system and it’s been broken for a very long time. Yet, we are held accountable for a system we did not create.
I can see where that proves to be a detriment unfortunately. What advice do you have for those who are aspiring to consider emergency medicine?
Focus on building your own practice. That way you can do things on your own terms and can grow not only on a business level but also on a personal level as well. By owning your own practice, you can allow it to grow with you and at your own pace.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I was an athlete growing up, so I still play a lot of sports like basketball, tennis and track. I like to play video games with my kids because I think it keeps the mind sharp.
What is one piece of advice that you’ve never forgotten?
My father once told me to stay true to myself. Be nice to people and be courteous, but never compromise who you are. I try to live by that every day.
Where did the idea for emergency medicine come from?
What drew me to emergency medicine is that it is one of the few fields in medicine that allows the physician to focus on the patient without having to deal with other distractions like insurance and billing. As much as we don’t like to think of it, medicine is still a business that offers services. And things can get really complicated when you have to provide mandatory services to people who can’t afford it. As an ER physician, I rarely have to think about billing the patient for my services.
When you think of a possible answer or a solution to a problem, how do you take it from a concept or a thought to reality?
For me, research is the key. I like to know what I’m getting into. So I talk to other people in the field and do a lot of reading and self-education.
What is one trend that excites you?
I’m bringing a new clinic to the Tampa Bay Area. It will focus on wellness and nutrition for people who are serious about their fitness and taking control of their own health. We have to learn to start taking good care of ourselves, our health. Strengthening mind, body and soul is a key to a happier and longer life.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Enjoy the journey. I think that a lot of people can relate to this. When you’re going through that journey of trying to make yourself successful, there are too many things you worry about. You spend a lot of time wondering if you are doing the right thing and if you are setting the right goals for the future. Sometimes it takes away from the enjoyment. If you’re anything like me, you also spend a lot of time away from family. So, I would tell my younger self to slow down and take his time, just enjoy the process and the people you have around you because they won’t always be there.
What is one habit that you would recommend for everyone else to do?
I like to take what I call “mind breaks”. What we do as doctors is really stressful and I’ve seen it take a toll on other physicians. Honestly , I go through it too, so when that happens, I tend to sit back and think about what I’m doing in that moment. I try to slow things down because if you don’t do that, you tend to rush into things and that’s when mistakes happen. In my line of work, a simple mistake can be the difference between life and death, so it’s very important not to feel rushed. I’ve seen a lot of doctors fall in that trap with devastating outcomes, so for me I try to just sit back and reflect on what I’m doing. It keeps me focused.
What is one strategy that you’ve had to help grow on the business side of things and can you please explain how that strategy has helped?
For me, my strategy is just to diversify. And what I mean by that is, yes, I work in healthcare and I’ve spent my entire life to become a physician, but I also have other interests outside of medicine. I do a lot of real estate on the side. My real estate business is completely different from what I was trained to do. Having that strategy of doing one thing that I was trained to do, which was medicine, and then learning a whole different skill, like real estate, has been really fulfilling. I was able to put the two together and this has helped me grow as a person. What I’ve learned from one, I have applied to the other. Plus it helps keep things interesting for me. I rarely have a dull day.
Is there anything that you can think of that we haven’t discussed that you us to make sure to bring out?
I just want to reiterate my new business I’m bringing to the Tampa Bay area. Again, we focus on wellness and nutrition. I think this is something that anyone who is serious about their health should come check out. Even if they don’t live in the area, I’m sure there are other wellness centers near that they could look into. I encourage you to check it out if you want to improve on your health.