Tom Harbin

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Tom Harbin, MD, MBA is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in glaucoma and related diseases. His undergraduate degree is from Vanderbilt University and medical degree from Cornell University. He completed residency training at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins and fellowship training at Washington University. He has also earned an MBA from Georgia State University.



BY Tom Harbin • POSTED ON May 2, 2017

A debut guide seeks to flesh out the often lacking business education of veterinary school graduates.

Jones and Harbin open their thought-provoking work by cycling through some common comments made by recent graduates of medical or veterinary schools like “I didn’t study medicine so I could obsess about business,” and “I just want to take care of animals; I’ll let somebody else handle the money.” And in response to such assertions, the authors ask a crucially simple question: “Where did these doctors get the idea that they would be exempt from the forces that rule everyone else’s lives?” Jones and Harbin are quick to dispel this notion, acquainting such recent graduates with the whole world of business-related items they’ll need to know about in order to make any actual use of the degrees they worked so hard to acquire. These matters include attracting patients, coping with veterinary referrals, conducting business correspondence, managing staff, investing in a retirement plan, and—for those who choose to go this route—negotiating the often Byzantine world of large corporate caregiving organizations. The authors point out that most medical and veterinary schools offer their students little or no practical preparation along these lines, and their book is intended as a one-source corrective to that oversight. Here readers will learn the intricacies of contract negotiations, operations management, personal and corporate finance, and the best (and worst) techniques for building a practice. Elsewhere the advice gets more specific to the veterinary world, with Jones and Harbin describing the various types of pet owners, for instance, and the different diplomatic approaches necessary for dealing with them. Many of this manual’s readers will find themselves in some kind of managerial position whether they plan for it or not, and on this subject the authors are at their strongest, dispensing some simple wisdom about how to get people to do what you want. Novice veterinarians should find the volume invaluable, but medical and business school graduates will likely discover a variety of worthy tips in these pages as well.

A succinct and approachable handbook for all the stuff that comes after the veterinary degree.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5456-0136-5

Publisher: Mill City Press

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

The Business Side of Medicine Cover

The Business Side of Medicine

BY Tom Harbin • POSTED ON Dec. 18, 2012

A senior ophthalmologist with an EMBA from Georgia State University advises young doctors on the business of medicine.

In this slim, to-the-point volume, Harbin (Waking up Blind, 2009) seeks to fill in the yawning gaps in medical education. Doctors starting out may be well-trained in medicine, he asserts, but typically they’re woefully unprepared for the challenging, unavoidable business aspects of the profession. By his own account, Harbin goes for the big picture and leaves the details for his target audience to work out for themselves. He provides a solid framework for the kinds of choices and business-minded decisions doctors will face not only early in their careers but later on as well. Knowledge of these business aspects, he argues, makes for better, more personally fulfilled doctors, which benefits their patients, too. “This material is just as important as medical knowledge and should be taught at some point during medical training,” Harbin says. Advice includes how to perform due diligence in choosing the right type of practice, how to spot red flags and negotiate contracts, and reasons to check with the spouse before committing to a particular practice or geographic location. Following that are forays into insurance, office efficiency, personal and business finance, and how to deal with troublemaking doctors in a group practice. Also included is counsel on matters such as how to run a good meeting; the key, he says, is a firm time limit. Though well-organized, easy to read and rich in sage advice, the book suffers from a few gaps. A brief mention of the Internet fails to capture the immense changes in the doctor-patient relationship now that medical information can be accessed online; similarly, the relationship between doctors and drug makers gets a light once-over. Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured go unexplored, and there appears to be little information about the impact of Obamacare, even though it will most certainly alter the industry. Notably, the chapter on ethics doesn’t fill two pages.

A limited but valuable resource for new and experienced doctors interested in the business side of medicine.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1938223679

Page count: 206pp

Publisher: Mill City Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2013

Waking Up Blind Cover

Waking Up Blind

BY Tom Harbin • POSTED ON Dec. 1, 2009

Harbin (The Business Side of Medicine, 2012, etc.) investigates medical misadventure and malpractice at the top of the ophthalmology profession.

In 1983, H. Dwight Cavanagh, a professor of ophthalmology and department chairman at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, prepared to do a corneal transplant on his patient. As usual, he was pressed for time, as he normally scheduled up to 13 procedures per day. His colleagues had previously expressed concern about his habit of biting off more than he could chew, and on this day, Harbin writes, the doctor’s overzealousness caught up with him, resulting in a botched operation that blinded his patient. The doctor eventually lost his job and titles—a small price to pay for such mayhem. Harbin tells an engaging story of a doctor that came to believe in his own infallibility and whose greed and thirst for power caused his patients irreparable harm. One sad element of the story, as presented by the author, is that the doctor’s malpractice didn’t go unnoticed by his peers; unfortunately, his status had long prevented accusations and complaints from being dealt with appropriately. If not for two conscientious doctors, the crimes might have been swept under the rug. The story covers events that occurred over the course of many years, necessitating gaps in chronology, but readers will never have a sense that they’re missing anything. The fact that Harbin is a physician adds immeasurably to his account’s integrity and believability, and his use of layman’s terms will make it easy for mainstream readers to understand. As a result, this narrative of medical misadventure is likely to interest anyone who’s ever put their faith and trust in a doctor.

A compelling story of medical tragedy.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1934938874

Page count: 240pp

Publisher: Langdon Street Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2013

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