Providing clinical care is my service. I strive to provide the best care possible so I stand out from my competitors. Patients who have good experience recommend you to their family and friends and leave positive online reviews which bolters your reputation. Story: I am fellowship trained in Mohs surgery and cosmetic dermatology, so that gives me the credentials, experience and credibility to provide excellent surgical and cosmetic results. I am constantly learning new procedures and technologies to stay up to date at national conferences and webinars so I remain at the top.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Zain Husain.
Dr. Zain Husain MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship trained Mohs micrographic surgeon. He founded New Jersey Dermatology and Aesthetic Center in Marlboro, NJ in 2019. His areas of special interest are skin cancer, Mohs micrographic surgery, and cosmetic dermatology. He is married to his wife Dr. Amna Husain, a pediatrician also based in NJ and has a 2 year old daughter.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell our readers a bit about your ‘backstory”?
Igrew up in northern NJ and always dreamed of being a physician. My parents both worked in the pharmaceutical industry so I always had an interest in science. My brothers and I were encouraged to pursue careers in medicine (my older brother is an interventional pain physician and my younger brother is an ENT surgeon). As a senior in high school I applied to combined BS/MD programs around the country and was fortunate to be accepted by many of them. I ultimately chose the program with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School because it was in state and I received a full academic scholarship for college. In medical school I studied and worked hard. I explored many specialties and late in my 3rd year of medical school I stumbled upon dermatology and immediately fell in love with the field. There was a lot of diversity in patients and subspecialties and I loved the visual and procedural nature of the field. I matched at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC where I trained for 3 years. I particularly enjoyed Mohs surgery (a specialized skin cancer surgery) and reconstruction as well as cosmetic dermatology and pursued a fellowship in procedural dermatology at Montefiore Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. I returned to DC after my fellowship to join my wife who was completing her pediatrics residency at Georgetown. I worked in private practice for 2 years and also served as volunteer faculty at George Washington University School of Health Sciences.
What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?
After years of education and training, I realized I wanted to practice on my terms. I worked extremely hard to get to where I was and was confident in my skills and care. I ultimately wanted to have control over my own work life, make key decisions for the practice and have room for growth. I envisioned owning a full-service dermatology practice where I could practice the full scope of my specialty in a professional, warm, patient-centric environment.
In medical school, residency and fellowship, we didn’t receive any formal training on running a successful practice. I decided to join successful private practices where I could gain more experience practicing independently with a supportive infrastructure so I could learn the business side as well. I observed and took notes regarding what worked well and didn’t work well at those practices.
After a year in private practice I began exploring options about starting my practice. I hired a consultant who focused on dermatology startup practices and was instrumental in helping me set up the practice from the ground up. The first question was where I would want to set up my practice. We had just had a baby girl so we looked at areas where we had family support. As my family was in NJ/NY we decided to focus our search there and looked for office space. After we secured a business loan and office lease, we began all the steps required to start the practice. Nine months later, my practice opened.
Managing being a provider and a business owner can often be exhausting. Can you elaborate on how you manage(d) both roles?
Each role as a physician and business owner is independently exhausting and combining the two can be overwhelming at times. When I first started my practice last year, I found myself making decisions about every aspect of the practice. It was a lot of work, but manageable as my patient volume was lower in the beginning. As I hired more staff, I began delegating tasks that I was confident they could handle such as supply orders and scheduling vendor deliveries to ease my burden. As my patient load dramatically increased, I realized I needed more help, so I hired my wife to help me manage the practice. There was no one I trusted more than her with my business and as a physician herself she understood the needs of a private practice.
As a business owner, how do you know when to stop working IN your business (maybe see a full patient load) and shift to working ON your business?
This is a great question and it took me a while to realize. Our practice grew rapidly and was seeing much more patients to meet the demands. However, I didn’t carve out time to manage my practice so I found myself doing a lot of it at home afterhours. My work-life balance was suffering as a consequence so I had to make some changes. I began to block out a half day per week for practice administration. During this time I would have my weekly billing meetings, schedule any vendor meetings, work on marketing and any other practice needs. In addition, I hired a well-trained physician assistant to help me with my clinical patient load so we could meet patient demand and not lose patients to excessive waiting periods to schedule an appointment.
From completing your degree to opening a clinic and becoming a business owner, the path was obviously full of many hurdles. Is there a specific hurdle that sticks out to you?
I think one of the biggest hurdles I encountered was balancing a dual physician household with a young child. After my wife completed her pediatrics residency we moved to NJ as I began the process for opening my practice. She was studying for her pediatrics boards while looking for a good part-time private practice position. She did not find the right fit as many practices were looking for full-time candidates, which my wife did not want to pursue as we had an infant at home. After much consideration she decided to open up her own concierge direct pay pediatrics practice so she could control her patient panel and hours and allow flexibility in her schedule. We basically opened both of our practices within a few months of each other, which was obviously a stressor, but we worked together to make it work.
How did you build up resilience to rebound from failures?
My wife has been and continues to be my biggest supporter throughout the practice startup practice. We encountered multiple setbacks and failures and she has been a great sounding board and helps me think of solutions. She has been a fantastic resource and has been able to help me bounce back from these failures. Having a trusted confidente that can help you look from another point of view and give sound feedback and not just saying what you want to hear is valuable.
What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Grow Your Private Practice” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Be the best at what you do. Providing clinical care is my service. I strive to provide the best care possible so I stand out from my competitors. Patients who have good experience recommend you to their family and friends and leave positive online reviews which bolters your reputation. Story: I am fellowship trained in Mohs surgery and cosmetic dermatology, so that gives me the credentials, experience and credibility to provide excellent surgical and cosmetic results. I am constantly learning new procedures and technologies to stay up to date at national conferences and webinars so I remain at the top.
- Invest in your staff. I look for experience, integrity, and strong work ethic when hiring employees. I pay more than most of my competitors and provide benefits because I want to retain good employees. I try to keep them happy with bonuses, lunches, skincare and cosmetic treatments. They reward me with their loyalty and hard work. Story: I have a merit-based incentive program for my staff, where I take into account additional responsibilities and tasks my staff take on the help grow my practice such as product and cosmetic procedure sales. Their bonuses are based on these measures and help with staff retention and satisfaction.
- Invest in a clean, modern and comfortable office setting. You, your employees and patients will be happier and is more conducive for providing quality care. Story: I designed my office space to be modern and bright. I chose soothing colors to promote relaxation for nervous patients who were coming in for appointments and procedures. I picked bright and modern artwork I always get compliments on. I have a beverage and snack station for my cosmetic waiting area, where they can wait privately and is quiet and tucked away from the main practice area. Story: One of my patients commented how comfortable he felt in my office and said it was like being in a spa.
- Market wisely. There are so many ways to advertise and you can spend a lot of money doing so. Assess your market and see how most patients find their doctors. Have a modern, well organized website that is mobile friendly. Example: I have found digital marketing with google advertising and facebook to be the most fruitful. There are analytics you can look at and really target your audience.
- Network. Go out and meet other potential referral sources. Bring your business cards and provide a gift/food for the staff. Other physicians will be more likely to refer to you if they have a name with a face and access to business cards. Before I opened my practice, I visited over 50 offices in a 10-mile radius. I focused on primary care physicians and other specialist I frequently collaborate with such as rheumatologists, allergists and plastic surgeons. I also reached out to neighboring spas and salons.
What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
When I’m overwhelmed or feel burnout, I turn to exercise. It helps me cope with stress and clear my head. I like weightlifting and doing spin classes on my spin bike.
I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career — None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?
My biggest mentor has been my fellowship director Dr. David Ciocon. He really invested in teaching me as much as possible and instilled a lot of confidence in me. He has always been available to provide honest and sound advice and has always had my best interest at heart. The most valuable lesson I learned from him was to always work hard and strive for perfection. He always told me you can always improve by more practice and learning new techniques to get the best outcomes.
What resources did you use (Blogs, webinars, conferences, coaching, etc.) that helped jumpstart you in the beginning of your business? Can you explain why they were helpful?
I actually was a member of a private facebook group of dermatologists who have started or were starting their own practice and it was a great place to share ideas and recommendations. They would share mistakes they made and things they found were helpful for their practices. I learned a lot about starting my practice from that page. Also, my consultant had a wealth of knowledge on many aspects of dermatology private practice and was a fantastic resource. At our national dermatology conferences, there were always some practice management lectures that I would attend. These were given by successful dermatologists from around the country and would share valuable insights as well.
In interviews like this one, people often ask about the best advice that one was given. I’d like to flip the script. What’s the worst piece of advice or recommendation you’ve ever received? Can you share a story about that? Was there a lesson or take away from that story?
The worst piece of advice I received was to always apologize and appease demanding patients for fear of a negative review or other retaliation. I am all for accepting responsibility for any of my own or staff’s any mistakes that were either mine or my staff’s fault. However, I have encountered several instances in which patients would make threats of leaving a bad review if I would not accommodate their unreasonable requests. Some would try to bargain for cosmetic procedures or demand not paying a copay if their skin issue was not completely resolved. There was one patient I recall who
Please recommend one book that’s made the biggest impact on you? Can you explain why that resonated so much with you?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book has many valuable tips for interacting with others to help cast a favorable impression. It helps you earn trust and influence decision making. It has helped me tremendously with patients in earning their trust in their medical care as well as cosmetic procedures and product sales. It has also helped me in negotiating terms for contracts with vendors.
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram: @drzainhusain, @njdermcenter
Thank you for these great insights!