John Burke M.D. started the Medical Millionaire blog to catalog his growth from a heavily indebted person, after extensive schooling and training and with no financial or wealth background, to a multimillionaire. This growth from significantly negative to abundantly positive net worth is the story of this journey.
The fact that he accomplished his financial goals without earning an MBA and from setting up a practice in a rural town in Maine is even more amazing. This blog is the story of this journey, including many mistakes made, lessons learned on the way, and eventual success that is the American dream.
John grew up in the working class neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He is the eldest of 6 children, all of whom were proudly raised by immigrant parents.
John’s mother graduated from high school in the US, but his father attended only 2 years of high school in Ireland. Despite this limited academic background, education and reading were highly valued and constantly emphasized within the household over his formative years.
John always dreamed of becoming a doctor, but doesn’t really know how that career path came to him as no one in his extended family and even in his local neighborhood worked in healthcare. He frequently joked that he had an actual dream about becoming a doctor in a small town a la Marcus Welby, and then spent the next 25 years making that dream come true.
John excelled academically, graduating from a private Catholic high school as valedictorian, and was a nationally-ranked speaker and debater. John was accepted early decision to Dartmouth College where he became pre-med, majored in Biology and graduated cum laude.
Accepted to multiple medical schools, John chose Boston University School of Medicine, as he felt he would see the greatest range of pathology and get the most experience at its flagship facility, Boston City Hospital. At BUSM, John received a Public Health Service scholarship for his last 3 years obligating him to serve in an healthcare underserved area after residency for at least 3 years.
John graduated from BUSM with honors in multiple subjects, and worked in the Emory University Internal Medicine program in Atlanta, GA. Towards the end of residency and hoping to return to his native New England with his wife and growing family, John signed on to move to Vassalboro, ME, a town of less than 3,000 people in rural central Maine.
This assignment was called the Private Practice Option, meaning that he had to establish his own practice without any further financial assistance from the federal government. Because this was before the concept of income guarantees became prevalent, his income depended totally on his patient flow and receipts. Oh, what a learning curve that was!
While not getting monetary assistance from anyone, John did get lots of business, professional advice, and mentorship from many of the “old school” doctors in the area who took him under their wings. Over the course of 3 decades, he grew his solo practice to a group of multiple primary care providers, started a successful hospitalist program, directed a in-house laboratory and procedure program, developed real estate, and started the first aesthetic practice in his region.
Despite very modest beginnings, John was able to achieve net worth of $1 million by age 45 and “retire” from his primary care practice at 59. He now does administrative consulting in the areas of utilization review, clinical integration, physician-hospital and accountable care organizations, and runs his booming aesthetic practice and medi spa.