Saving Just One Patient

Jennie Shulkin, Override Co-founder & CEO

When my father and I started this company, we had no idea how difficult it would be to build. 

This was largely because I had no healthcare, business, or entrepreneurship experience. And despite my father’s years of experience as a physician and running healthcare systems, he never stood up a medical practice from the ground up. It turns out that building something from scratch is much harder than inheriting something that is already built – even if the foundation is unstable and some renovations are required.

This is probably true for any startup, but healthcare is its own beast. Many obstacles stood in our way to seeing our first patient: licensure restrictions, staffing, protocols and procedures, local business certificates, corporate practice of medicine, various insurances, EHR selection, patient acquisition struggles – just to name a few. 

I remember a time, many months after successfully completing a financing round with top-notch investors, when I wondered whether we were ever going to ever actually treat a live patient. And I was terrified by the idea: What was the point of everything we had done if we weren’t even going to make a difference in one patient’s life?

But this idea of treating a single patient was also my NorthStar. As someone who suffers from chronic pain, I know how much it hurts to suffer at my darkest moments. And I know that others have suffered and do suffer worse than I have. If Override could alleviate even a little bit of that suffering, for a couple of patients, I wanted to do it.

In Judaism, there is a concept called tikkun olam, which translates into “repairing the world.” Judaism instructs Jews to find ways to incorporate tikkun olam into their everyday life and work. It is said that “if you save one life, it is as though you saved the entire world.” This concept strengthened my motivation to get to a place where Override could see our first patient.  

One of our coaches, Justina, put this concept in her own words: “Thank you for providing an opportunity for me to help another soul in finding their way to a better moment, minute, hour, day, week, month and life.” She wisely recognized her mission in improving an individual moment for an individual soul; she understood that something so small was still so powerful. 

Fast forward, Override has successfully launched medical practices in 9 states, staffed them with providers across pain medicine, physical therapy, psychology, and coaching, and are seeing many patients in each of these geographies. We still struggle with many issues, but we are doing it. We are seeing patients, and many of them have made remarkable recoveries. 

One patient of ours wrote to me personally last year before the Jewish New Year: 

"On the theme of creation of the world, thank you for creating Override. This morning I reflected about the standout aspects of this year, and one of them surely is learning to manage pain.
While I can't say I'm at 100% right now, I don't fear the sensations that used to bring me to tears.
I feel pretty damn good and am extremely grateful for the tactics and practices that have led me along this healing journey.
Override helps reduce suffering and bring more healing --- that is tikkun olam."  

Receiving this message brought tears to my eyes. If nothing else, Override has given her the ability to enjoy life again after so many years suffering from pain.

We hope that we can do this for many, many others, too. 

Posted on 
March 15, 2024

Don't miss the next blog post

Sign up to be notified of new blog posts