Dr. Nancy Doelling had a career in business trading foreign currency, but after having her first child she realized her passion lied in pediatric medicine. After completing medical school, she knew she could turn to the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) for guidance on building a successful medical practice.
“I was making money for the bottom line of the bank,” Doelling said. “While I’m not criticizing that, I wanted to do more for humanity, and my priorities were my children. We had picked a pediatrician who was a mother of six. How was she able to be a doctor? And there I was. That’s what I wanted to be.”
So, at 38, the University of Georgia finance alumna studied at Mercer University School of Medicine and completed her residency at Emory University School of Medicine. She then worked as a hospitalist, unit leader and medical director in Atlanta’s largest children’s hospitals.
After more than a decade practicing pediatrics, Doelling realized she was not satisfied with the hospital-owned, insurance-driven model of patient care. So she left.
Her ideal practice was a concierge-style approach that let her spend more time with patients.
Doelling shared the idea with a good friend from medical school whose husband had received help from the UGA SBDC. She contacted Peter Williams, senior business consultant in the UGA SBDC office in Macon, and he brought in Matt Lastinger, director of entrepreneurial innovation, for their first meeting as the three talked about Doelling’s direct primary care idea.
“I could tell she was well-researched and had a good game plan. We thought her concierge-like service would be a successful venture,” Lastinger said.
After about an hour discussing costs, expenses, medical records and staff, Lastinger shifted the focus of the meeting to expansion.
“Matt said, ‘We don’t need to talk about how this is going to work. We need to talk about you opening branches all over metro Atlanta.’ Ever since then, it’s been amazing working with them,” Doelling said.
They also discussed the services to be included with the monthly patient memberships, how to price them appropriately and how to estimate the number of memberships needed to break even. Over the next few months, Willams helped Doelling put together a complete set of financial projections that showed the practice would pay off over time.
“We gave Nancy a long list of things to do, and Peter worked closely with her after that,” Lastinger said.
Chastain Pediatrics opened in August 2020, in time to provide back-to-school physicals and vaccinations. Through word-of-mouth and marketing provided by a parent, the practice quickly added patients, and the waiting list continues to grow. Doelling has hired a nurse practitioner as demand continues for personalized service and she has been in talks with a physician about opening another site and is open to talking to others.
In being able to spend more time with her patients, often at their homes, Doelling’s unique practice brings her great joy, she admits. “When I do home visits, my young patients often answer their door and yell, ‘It’s Dr. Doelling!’ They’re excited to see me. You don’t often see that in a doctor’s office.”
Doelling’s finance background allows her to run her practice efficiently and successfully, but she returns to the UGA SBDC as needed for advice.
For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762