Integrating Medicine and Design to Improve Care

Todays’ interview with Healthcare Design Expert Dr. Manuel Hernandez is going to be really fun and inspirational. Manny has unique talents unlike those of any previous guest.

manuel hernandez md healthcare design expert

But first, let me tell you a bit about what’s going on in my life.

The Maturing Podcast

This has been a crazy month, with lots of things happening. I can’t believe I’m approaching the 100th episode of the podcast. When I started, I had no idea whether I could sustain this. Like a new business, most podcasts fizzle out before reaching 10 or 20 episodes. One of the things that has sustained me has been your feedback.

Just when I’m starting to feel like I’m not making a difference, and I’m asking myself why I’m doing this, I’ll get a positive comment in the Facebook group, or a word of encouragement on LinkedIn. Or I’ll receive a five-star rating and review on iTunes like this one from EZscan:

Excellent resource for physicians

Recently, I have been thinking about non-clinical career options for physicians and came across this podcast. Listening to this podcast you are exposed to experts in their chosen non-clinical career who provide insights and tips about each career option. If you are a physician curious about non-clinical careers this is a must listen.

EZscan review on iTunes

I really appreciate that feedback. It helps keep me motivated. So, thanks for that, EZscan.

I’m committed to continuing the podcast and to creating a sustainable location-independent online business. And the craziness comes from everything else going on simultaneously with that.

Audience Survey Completed

I’ve just completed my annual audience survey, so I’m anxious to dig into that. There are interesting comments, creative suggestions, and a fair amount of support for the way things are going so far. One of the questions I presented was whether listeners would support the option of making a small voluntary monthly contribution to help support the podcast. And a significant percentage thought it was a reasonable idea.

I had already opened a Patreon account, but I was holding off activating it until I completed the survey. Patreon is an online service that enables bloggers, podcasters, artists, writers and other creatives, to collect contributions from supporters.

My plan is to offer two levels of support:

  • Basic Level to support the existing podcast and free courses, and,
  • A Bonus Level that will include a monthly Q & A Zoom Meeting.

My plan is to launch the Patreon option within the next week or so. I will send out a dedicated email to announce that, and discuss it on future podcast episodes.

More Courses Coming

I’ve been working on building more courses. I’ve had over 200 potential students click through to my free MSL Career Minicourse at And it looks like about 30 students have started the course.

I also posted my first paid course, which closed last weekend. I had a pretty good response, so far. My plan is to make some minor changes, improve the sales page, invite some colleagues to become affiliate marketers, and open the course again in August or September. I'm also thinking about holding a free webinar to help with that process.

I plan to post another mini-course based on last week’s podcast episode within the next couple of weeks.

And I’ve promised myself to create another paid course by the end of August.

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country, with over 650 graduates. Unlike other programs, which typically run 1 – 1/2 to 2 years, this program only takes a year to complete. And Economist Magazine recently ranked the business school #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations. While in the program, you'll participate in a company project, thereby contributing to your organization.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations. And they've become entrepreneurs and business owners.

By joining the University of Tennessee physician executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to advance your career. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or go to

Urgent Care Business and Franchise Expansion

It’s also a crazy time because my partners and I opened our second urgent care clinic a few weeks ago, on June 1st. Mind you, I’m the medical director, but I’m working at the clinic just 8 days per month. Thankfully, the patient volumes are outpacing those we experienced after opening the first clinic in 2014. From a business standpoint, it looks like a win so far.

Meanwhile, I’m helping my wife expand her business, which has been exciting. She owns and runs a Home Helpers franchise. She’s celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the business this year. She started out slowly, working out of our basement for the first two years, but broke seven-figures in revenues a few years ago and has continued to grow.

We’re considering the purchase of a second territory from another franchisee right now. And we’re in the process of remodeling a new free-standing building we’ve purchased to rent to her business, and selling the suite she currently occupies. It’s a nice situation, being landlord to her business while building equity.

I mention this not to toot my own horn, but to remind you that we’re all busy. And it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But it’s never too late to make a pivot, to pursue a new dream, to learn some new skills, to enter a new field, or to develop a new network of like-minded colleagues seeking a new vocation.

Age is No Barrier

I just celebrated my 64th birthday, and I plan to keep interviewing guests and creating new resources for you for years to come. If I can take on these new challenges, and build an online business while helping physicians like you, then you can certainly build a new career along with me.

Don’t give up on building a joyful, balanced life. I know you’ve got the desire, the grit, and the smarts to do it!



Becoming a Healthcare Design Expert

This week on the Physician NonClinical Careers podcast, we get into the world of healthcare design with our guest Manuel Hernandez. Dr. Hernandez discusses his lifelong desire to be a physician, taking us through his amazing, and diverse, career.

We get an insight into how he came to leave clinical practice and go on to become one of the leading figures in the intersection of healthcare and architecture. It’s a fantastic episode that touches on a variety of options available to physicians wanting to transition out of clinical practice.

A Career Built on Diversity

As the interview plays out, a theme becomes apparent. Manny has constantly sought to diversify his skill set, starting with an undergrad degree in rhetoric and communication, while fulfilling his pre-med requirements. Despite knowing that he would practice emergency medicine since age five, he has always been quick to take the road less traveled to get there. “One of the strengths in getting places in life is being able to stand out and differentiate yourself from others.”

That desire to differentiate himself led Manny to consider a dual MBA/MD program, but decided to put the MBA on hold. However, advice from a mentor, Dr. David Nash, cemented in him the idea to be a physician leader.

In 10 years, there's going to be two kinds of physicians, the physicians who make decisions and the physicians who carry them out. You have to decide which one you want to be.

David Nash

He completed his medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh. After completing his residency at Temple and entering clincal practice, he rose quickly through the ranks to become the Emergency Department Chief after just one year. He subsequently acquired his MBA from UC Irvine. This enabled him to bridge the gap between administrators and providers.

The MBA allowed him to speak to the administrators on a business level while communicating the interests of providers. “The providers and the administrators were often talking past each other… with entirely different sets of experiences and world views.” This straddling of worlds set the pace for the rest of Dr. Hernandez’ fascinating career, and also garnered the attention of consulting firms.

Consulting as the First Pivot

Consulting afforded Manny a way to get out of the intensive world of emergency medicine without committing to the rigid schedule of a 9 to 5 job. The job required quite a bit of travel but, he noted that, “Consulting is one of those things, you can make out of it what you want to make out of it… there are also boutique firms that serve one metropolitan area.”

While consulting in the Emergency Department side of his company, he worked closely with an architecture firm. The firm later asked him to be their first in-house healthcare expert. He jumped at the opportunity for a new challenge. This eventually led to his metamorphosis to healthcare design expert.

The Meaning of Quality

While in the consulting world he developed the ability to communicate with providers and administrators, in the design world he was starting from scratch. Ever ready to adapt, Manny completed a master’s degree in Strategic Design and Management from the Parsons School of Design.

This degree opened up his thinking around healthcare, combining quantitative data with a more qualitative, experiential understanding of what quality means. As a result, he is now an internationally-recognized physician, designer and healthcare innovation strategist. In fact, he was honored by Healthcare Design Magazine in 2017, as one of their ten most influential people advancing healthcare design.

Since early 2018, he has been Principal, Strategic Innovation and Co-Practice Leader of the Healthcare Team at Kahler Slater, a global, award-winning architecture, interior design and environmental branding firm.

This led him to develop a more holistic approach to patient satisfaction and quality. By looking at the definition and experience of quality through the eyes of patients, providers, and administrators, Manny changed how healthcare design is approached and understood.


Reflecting on his incredible career, and the choice to leave clinical practice, Manny remembers how difficult it was initially. “That was a very emotionally traumatic decision for me… in many ways I felt like a failure. I felt like I had turned my back on medicine.”

But through his experiences in the creative world of design, Dr. Hernandez has learned to embrace his failures as lessons, and has adjusted his perspective on how non-clinical physicians can contribute to healthcare.

“What I’m doing now is actually what I’d set out to do… to change healthcare on a system level.”

Manuel Hernadez

Blending Clinical and Consulting

Faced with the demands of consulting, Manny eventually stopped treating patients. While this allowed him to focus on developing his design and leaderships skills, he began to feel disconnected from the clinical domain. And he felt that medicine was changing too fast to be able to understand the demands on clinicians and systems without regular contact with patients.

So, Manny has since added part time clinical practice back into the mix. He now practices emergency medicine, and teaches at an academic center, while still working as a full time healthcare design expert. It's a blend that brings him enormous satisfaction.

I feel that I can walk in with greater credential, greater conviction, and engender greater trust, with the providers that I work with when I can say, “Look, I'm with you. I'm standing at the bedside to.”

Manuel Hernandez


Manny Hernandez touched on many issues that physicians face when confronted with choosing between clinical care and a nonclinical vocation. Ultimately, it's possible to integrate them, as Manny does.

Manny welcomes feedback and questions. You can reach him on LinkedIn.

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

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

If you enjoyed today’s episode, share it on Twitter and Facebook, and leave a review on iTunes.

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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