Dr. Devon Golding, MD, is a board certified family medicine physician who specializes in managed healthcare and drug/alcohol addiction treatment. Dr. Golding was born in Jamaica and received his early education at Manning Hill. He entered St. Mary’s College in Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica at the young age of 15. There, he was a school prefect and was very active in sports, particularly long-distance running. It was not long before he traveled abroad to continue his studies, landing in England at the Sutton Coldfield College and Dudley College in the West Midlands. There, he studied the natural sciences and sociology. While attending college, he got the opportunity to study nursing at both the Guest Hospital and the High Croft Psychiatric Hospital. He fell in love with the medical profession there and soon became registered as a State and Psychiatric Nurse. A course in neurosurgery at the Midland Center for Neurology in Smethwick Warley led him to become certified as a Nurse Examiner for England and Wales.
Dr. Golding entered the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in Saint Maarten, West Indies, graduating in 1982. He completed residencies and electives at several other facilities such as the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn and the State University of New York Downstate before sitting for the board certification in family medicine. Dr. Golding is known for his charitable works, giving freely of his time and talents to help those in need throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. He has been recognized for his work by dozens of organizations, including the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Missouri, several medical facilities, and the American Geriatric Society.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
After I completed nursing education at the Guest Hospital in England, I worked for a time as a Nurse Examiner. All the while, I was seeking a way to go to medical school. Thankfully, I obtained a government scholarship to attend the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine.
The inspiration was several factors, including family values instilled in me as a young boy to help others in need. I could see that many people could not obtain the health care they were desperate for, particularly the elderly and the poor. That drove me to complete my studies so I could begin to help those people.
How do you make money?
I work as a family medicine physician in the St. Louis area. In addition to managed care and regular family practice, one of my sub-specialties is helping those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. I have a background in psychiatry from my time in England as a State and Psychiatric Nurse working and studying at the High Croft Psychiatric Hospital in the West Midlands.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Medicine is not about profit – in fact, people entering this field with an eye for making money are missing the bigger picture. Yes, there is a lot of money to be made as a physician or other medical practitioner, but the real reward comes from helping others when they need it most. Managing the healthcare of families and watching their quality of life improve is far more inspiring and satisfying at the end of the day than a large paycheck.
All that being said, I began profitability quite rapidly once I had completed my residency at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn. I was fortunate enough to find positions at several hospitals in my long career, and each experience helped shape who I am.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
It is natural to doubt one’s abilities and strengths, especially in the challenging and ever-changing field of medicine. I feel that if we don’t question our knowledge or approach everything with too much confidence, we are missing opportunities for self-improvement. My passion for helping others carried me through any dark times I had during my education and residency.
My advice for those entering the field is to constantly seek further education – ask questions, take additional coursework, read as many journals as one can. Because medicine is so fast-paced, it is critical to stay on top of developments in order to provide patients with the latest treatment options.
How did you get your first customer?
In medicine, your first customer comes to YOU! People need healthcare for themselves and for their families. Having a reputation for care and extensive knowledge brings customers right to my office without me having to do advertising or marketing.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I am using social media in order to share my experiences with others. It is a great and inexpensive way to make connections with existing patients as well as new ones. I can post triumphs and details of the work that I do. Still, referrals are the bread and butter of the medical profession – when word gets out that you are competent and caring, patients are attracted to that. Likewise, negative feedback from patients is incredibly powerful.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
My most difficult decisions stem from the hours I keep. I was the first doctor to do house calls in the St. Louis area, and my practice is one where we have an open door policy to those who cannot otherwise afford healthcare. Sometimes I work until late at night, so I must sacrifice personal time and the work I do with area charities in order to help my patients in the way they deserve.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I will circle back to my upbringing. In Jamaica, the family is considered sacred, and I learned so much from growing up in a caring family that believed so strongly in helping others. These experiences prepared me for a career in medicine and also spur me to give my time to charitable organizations when I can. When one cares about what they do and works hard to gain mastery, success follows naturally.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I established a “cooling house” in the city of St. Louis in 2004. That year, there was a terrible flood and a series of storms that knocked out power to many areas around the city. I established a rescue house of sorts, starting with 12 beds. In 2005, high temperatures exceeding 110 degrees were experienced, so we used the building for rescuing patients who had no electricity or air conditioning. We managed several patients on oxygen and others who were completely bedridden. Patients stayed for one to two weeks until it was safe for them to return to their homes. So, in partnership with the city, we used the building as a cooling house so that people could come stay in a safe, air-conditioned environment until power was restored.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am always excited about the next opportunity for me. I have been practicing medicine since the 1980s and am nowhere near ready for retirement. I find inspiration and drive in helping others – when I see someone’s health and their quality of life improve, it excites me and gives me great personal satisfaction. As long as I have something to contribute to the community, I will be doing so.
How do you feel about charitable giving?
As a boy, my family instilled in me the values of helping others in need. I encourage anyone who has the means and the time to help someone – especially the indigent, the poor, and the elderly. It helps to relieve their suffering and pain and every bit helps. Many organizations out there need talented people to give their time and their knowledge to help the communities which they serve, and this work is critical. It is immensely rewarding to be able to help those in need.