A Model Online Business

In today’s show, I present my conversation with a cardiologist who has successfully built an online business by meeting an academic need.

Dr. Jason Ryan is a practicing cardiologist who received his MD and MPH degrees at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in 2001. He followed that with an internal medicine residency and a general cardiology fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

He’s been a practicing cardiologist since 2008. He's also a faculty member at the UCONN School of Medicine. And he’s always had a passion for teaching.

Meeting an Academic Need

In addition to his full time clinical and teaching career, Jason is the founder and CEO of Boards and Beyond. Founded in 2014, his company offers over 400 high quality videos to help students prepare for their board exams. It covers 20 major content areas for the USMLE Step 1.

Jason’s story is truly remarkable and inspiring. He began by creating short videos to supplement what medical students were learning in their classes. Over time, the number of videos grew. And so did the number of students accessing them.

Jason realized that his students’ success could be enhanced by producing more videos. But it required technical support and a fairly sophisticated web site to implement. So, he created his business in 2014 to support the production and distribution of additional videos. And he began charging nominal fees to students as he met their academic needs.

The business has been very successful, growing organically through word of mouth. As a result, Boards and Beyond has been able to continue to expand into new content areas. It continues to develop new lectures, now numbering over 450.

Our Sponsor

This podcast is made possible by the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program offered by the Haslam College of Business. You’ll remember that I interviewed Dr. Kate Atchley, the Executive Director of the program, in Episode #25 of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country. It has over 650 graduates. Unlike most other ranked programs, which typically have a duration of 18 to 24 months, this program only takes a year to complete. And, it’s offered by the business school that was recently ranked #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA program, by Economist magazine.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations. The curriculum includes a number of major assignments and a company project. Hence, students immediately contribute to their organizations while in the program.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations. And they have become entrepreneurs and business owners. If you want to acquire the business and management skills you need to advance your career, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or going to vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Changing the Medical School Curriculum

Whenever Jason taught medical students, they were always looking for better ways to prepare for their board exams. So they accessed Pathoma, a web site with simple videos covering pathology.

Because he wanted meet this academic need, he liked the idea of creating videos that could be reviewed at will. So he began creating his own videos addressing select board topics. One of Jason’s students re-watched his lecture on anticoagulants five times before the USMLE Step 1 Exam because it so clearly explained the topic.

With the ability to review basic concepts outside of lectures using videos like Jason's, some medical schools have adopted a teaching model called the “flipped classroom.” It's video-based learning where students prepare outside of class.

Students are learning on their own what they used to get spoon-fed in a lecture.

Jason Ryan

Medical students then attend fewer lectures. Rather, they get together with their peers and debate a case presented by a faculty member. “Students are learning on their own what they used to get spoon-fed in a lecture.” It's interactive and engaging.


Making Videos for Medical Students

The market for videos aimed at medical students appears to be saturated. There are millions of videos available. But, like Pathoma, Jason presents in a way that resonates with students. “We both have this sort of style of really breaking down topics into their smallest elements… It's just what medical students love.” That makes them more popular.

So, Jason decided to start making videos about cardiology and other topics not covered on the Pathoma site. “It was a big leap of faith. It cost a lot of money to build a web site that can stream videos to lots of students at the same time.” So, there's a fee for subscribing the web site. It's been up for about five years. “I've added tons of videos to it, and it's gotten very, very popular,” Jason says.

Jason’s web site, Boards and Beyond, offers videos that cover the basics of a topic and take only 15 minutes to watch. They are designed for medical students preparing for the USMLE Step 1 Exam.

Making Videos is the “Easy” Part

Making the videos is fairly simple. Jason uses Camtasia, which is a PC-based screen recorder and video editing software. “You can do it all right at your desktop PC at home in your pajamas. It's a really easy time to make videos, and it's very easy to get them out there.”

What makes it complicated is streaming videos to students from all over the world. So, Jason hired ImageWorks to build his web site and host his videos for on-demand viewing. It takes the pressure off him to meet this academic need without worrying about the technical aspects.

Jason and I agree that more physicians ought to interact with larger audiences on a variety of topics. Physicians can use video to share their expertise and make a difference.

Boards and Beyond is a model for the kind of part-time online business that physicians might consider emulating.

Check out Jason's site by clicking on the link below. And share this episode or the link with any medical student who is preparing for Step 1 of the USMLE board exam. It's a great educational resource.

Links for today's episode:

Thanks to our sponsor…

Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.

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Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton.


The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business. 

Many of the links that I refer you to, and that you’ll find in the show notes, are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you, that I have personally used or am very familiar with.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career. 

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