Dr. Claudia Winograd Heise, MD/PhD knew she wanted to go into private practice as far back as medical school. She had fostered an interest in entrepreneurship early on, even enrolling in an MBA program while in medical school. After working most of her early career for large healthcare organizations, Claudia decided to make the jump to private practice in early 2020. Through a chance encounter with a local physician who was soon retiring, Claudia was offered the opportunity to open her office where a busy private practice was closing in Scarborough. Little did she know what was around the corner for Maine and beyond, as she prepared to take the leap from employed physician to small business owner.
Unlike many family physicians, Claudia followed a non-traditional educational path, studying at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign to earn a dual degree in Medicine and Neuroscience. The two tracks are integrated, requiring a good deal of multi-tasking, problem solving, humility, perseverance, and teamwork. Claudia credits much of her start up success in business to the skills sets she learned during medical school. While at UIUC, Claudia was able to join a similar dual-degree program at the College of Business targeted towards combined studies in an MBA and graduate school. Though she ended up pursuing other areas of study, the exposure to business school took root and provided a good starting point as she began thinking about her own private practice.
Inspired by other entrepreneurship stories, Claudia reached out to the WBC for help making her idea a reality. “While I had learned some basic concepts about management and had some financial vocabulary from my time in business school, I really had no idea how to start a business “in real life”. Meeting regularly with WBC Advisor Lorri Brown gave me a framework for all the steps I needed to pursue, and thus the confidence that I could take my nebulous hair-brained idea and make it a reality. She also helped with recommendations of other local businesses I could work with for professional support.”
Ten days after Claudia gave notice at her place of employment, COVID-19 arrived in Maine. Not only was Claudia immersed in COVID-19 data and direct patient care – she was also trying to get her new private practice up and running, as well as manage her own family and two young children. As businesses and schools shut down in Maine, Claudia continued to focus on her fledgling business. “I didn’t have time to wonder how COVID-19 would impact my own business, I had to focus on my patients and my family… I kept telling myself I’ll just see how it goes.”
Whole Medicine opened in June 2020, offering integrative holistic patient care, including preventive health, chronic conditions, pediatric health, sexual and transgender health, mental health including addiction and eating disorders, and immigrant health.
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CEI offers a wide range of assistance to emerging and existing business owners. Through one-on-one consultation, training, workshops, seminars, peer networks and other services, CEI helps individuals across the state get the information they need to start or expand their business. In addition to providing general business assistance, CEI has programs for women; marine-related businesses; farms; ag and food businesses; and refugees and immigrants.
Check out the full range of CEIs Business Advising offerings at https://www.ceimaine.org/advising