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Surgeon Samuel Lin MD Leads a Discussion on the Importance of Working Towards Dreams

Dr. Samuel Lin MD is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, with appointments in the Divisions of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology and board certifications in both disciplines. He initially graduated from medical school at Northwestern University in 1998, followed by completing residency training in Otolaryngology in 2003 and Plastic and […]

Samuel Lin
Samuel Lin

Dr. Samuel Lin MD is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, with appointments in the Divisions of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology and board certifications in both disciplines. He initially graduated from medical school at Northwestern University in 1998, followed by completing residency training in Otolaryngology in 2003 and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2006. Dr. Lin then underwent further specialization in Microvascular Reconstructive Surgery, graduating in 2007. Upon completion of his clinical training, he joined the Harvard Medical School faculty and started his practice in 2007.

In his practice, he primarily focuses on treating patients, both non-surgically and surgically, for reconstructive, whether following cancer or trauma, and aesthetic purposes. After years of clinical experience, he then decided to pursue an MBA degree to continue improving his practice from the management perspective, which he completed at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015. Apart from the clinical aspects of his work, Samuel Lin MD has also been consistently involved in the education of plastic surgeons, currently serving as Program Director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School Plastic Surgery Residency Training Program and co-director of the Harvard Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Fellowship. Moreover, he has actively contributed to the specialty in efforts to improve patient care through research. This has led to numerous scientific publications, numerous grants for developing technologies to improve patient care, and his current position as Outcomes Editor for the main scientific journal for plastic and reconstructive surgery.  Also, Dr. Samuel Lin MD is adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University.

How did you get started on the path you’re currently on? What inspired you?

My business, a plastic surgery practice, started as a progression following my schooling and subsequent training in medicine, specifically in the plastic surgery discipline. In particular, my practice largely focuses on reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. I was drawn to plastic surgery initially due to the impact of the specialty on the patient population in regards to improving quality of life, the breadth of the different surgeries and technical skill involved, and the innovative nature of the field, often being at the frontline of integrating new technologies into practice. These inspirations drew me in to my career and have carried on into my current business/practice, with eventual extension into research developing new technologies to improve patient care.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

I think there is always doubt and a period of anxiety that everyone goes through when starting out, whether it is in medicine or any other field or business.  However, without having to think about it too much, I got to work taking care of patients, and over time, things work out most of the time.

How did you get your first patient?

My first patient was a referral for a leg skin cancer.  I will always remember that first patient as clear as it was yesterday.

What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

One marketing strategy that I have found to be useful to generate new business is the use of social media, especially with platforms such as Twitter. A relatively new option for marketing purposes, social media has allowed me to easily share parts of my practice on a routine basis via text, photos, and videos, which in turn has perhaps attracted new patients given the ease of access of material online. In addition, it has allowed me to showcase our research enterprise and the hard work our research fellows do.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I think what primarily makes me successful is surrounding myself with individuals from different backgrounds. By working with others in various disciplines, it allows me to keep an open mind and constantly exposes me to potential new options to integrate into my practice. Moreover, through collaboration, I have been working on research to develop technologies that may benefit my patients in the future. Last but not least, maintaining and building on these connections has enabled my collaborators to succeed as well, creating a community that continues to grow and feed off itself.

In your line of work, what has been your most satisfying moment?

My most satisfying moment in business is seeing the gratefulness and happiness expressed by patients after they see the results of their procedure. This has been the inspiration for starting my business/practice in the first place and has continued to be the driving force behind my work throughout the years.

What does the future hold for you?

The future of my business will largely consist of continuing to maintain and develop my clinical expertise in plastic surgery and to grow my patient base through referrals, social media, and research. In addition, as I have many ongoing research projects pertaining to new technologies applicable to patient care, it is my hope that these come to fruition in the upcoming years. This is what I am most excited about, both since they have great potential to improve patient care for my business and that of others in a similar line of work and since they will offer me to opportunity to expand my business to include production of these tools.

What books have inspired you?

Great question.  I recently read Barking up the Wrong Tree, by Eric Barker. I thought it had some really interesting perspectives on life.

What is most challenging about your business?

I would say that the most challenging aspect of my business is time management. With only 24 hours in the day, it is always a challenge to juggle seeing patients in clinic, operating, teaching students, conducting research, and coordinating and attending meetings or events. This is especially relevant given that my practice primarily operates on a case-by-case basis, with each case needing a dedicated amount of time.

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