Lamin Sonko is changing the world of healthcare. The young Millennial is medical school-bound, does endocrinology research at Johns Hopkins University, and is COO of Elsayyad Medical Group, LLC, a bold new company that’s taking the physician recruiting world by storm—and all this at just twenty-two years old.
During his downtime, Sonko shoots hoops with his business-savvy best friend, Ahmed Elsayyad—EMG’s CEO and founder. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Elsayyad plans on starting Medical School at Mt. Sinai in New York this fall. He’s also a Berman Institute of Bioethics intern at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“Ahmed is really entrepreneurial,” says Sonko. “He’s always looking for the next big idea.”
He seems to have found it in EMG. In its first year, the new company has been successfully sourcing physicians in all specialties across the nation. EMG also offers its clients pharmaceutical procurement, medical supplies, and management consulting.
“Both Ahmed and I are from Johns Hopkins University, and that has really given us a lot of excellent connections,” says Sonko, “We’ve been able to utilize a lot of our relationships with the Hopkins physicians and medical community in our recruitment processes, and that’s a rare thing that we have to offer our clients.”
Drive, Dedication, and Grit
Connections are fine and good, but there’s more to the story than that. Clearly, these are two very hardworking young men. Sonko credits their Hopkins background with the company’s success.
“Hopkins really instilled in us a lot of drive, dedication, and grit,” he says. “Both the volume of work and the level of difficulty in the science background we come from really instilled in us a solid work ethic. I think that dedication really shows in our recruiting practices.”
What’s really fascinating about EMG is that its managers have one foot in the field of physician recruiting, and one in the field of medicine itself. Knowing the equation from both sides means that Sonko and Elsayyad can empathize with all parties involved.
“I think it’s really new in the recruitment field to have recruitment done by actual physicians, or aspiring physicians,” says Sonko. “A lot of times, the work is done by post-grads or masters students in some other field.”
Tomorrow’s Physicians Recruiting Today’s Top Talent
So far, this unique model seems to be paying off. The company has been very profitable, and its managers also reap the personal satisfaction that comes from the work itself.
“Personally, I love the challenge of recruiting,” Sonko says, “I love working closely with people. I’m trained as a science investigator, and there’s not a whole lot of personal contact there. I’m a social person by nature, so I love the fact that recruiting relies on your ability to communicate effectively with others.”
Sonko also loves the challenge of acquiring new clients, building strong connections with physicians, and guiding them through the recruitment process. He works hard to advocate for physicians, and with good reason; one day, he’ll be in their shoes as a physician himself.
A Passion for Recruiting with Compassion
“We have genuine compassion for the individuals that we’re reaching out to,” says Sonko. “EMG is primarily run by future doctors, and we really look out for the physicians that we help to recruit. We want to place them where their talents will be used and they’ll be most fulfilled.”
It’s not always easy, though.
“One of the greatest challenges is connecting with those really well-qualified physicians,” says Sonko. “The field is very saturated, and a lot of the well-qualified candidates have already been contacted by other recruiting agencies.”
That’s where, he says, companies like PhysEmp come in handy.
“A little while ago, we had a client urgently looking for an ob-gyn physician and we had very few connections with ob-gyn fellowship programs. Luckily, we posted our ad on PhysEmp and received three candidates within a week.”
Sonko says PhysEmp has been a crucial tool in the company’s growth.
“We started using PhysEmp because it has one of the largest, if not the largest, physician databases, which we used to sample the area of the fields that we were recruiting for. But over time, we really came to love the user interface and the ad services as well—which are really unmatched by any other recruiting services we’ve seen so far. We’ve had experience with other databases in the past but, overall, PhysEmp offers us the most for the value.”
Complex Problems, Simple Solutions
When asked if he had any insider advice or suggestions to offer other recruiters using PhysEmp’s recruiting tools, Sonko was quick to answer.
“The refresh tool is really invaluable. It enables us to constantly see who is looking at us, who is interested in our field or area. My advice to recruiters is: continuously refresh your ads. I know a lot of people miss that; we missed it for about a week. It’s a small but profound thing.”
In addition to the challenge of connecting with top physicians, EMG’s other main mission is, of course, connecting with the medical directors who are looking for those well-qualified candidates in the first place. Market saturation is an obvious reason, as well as the fact that the company is still relatively new.
“We’re young, but we really offer the entrepreneurial spirit and drive that comes with youth,” says Sonko. “We also offer a competitive price that other recruiting agencies just can’t match—especially for the quality of the search that we’re offering. We’re working with some of the best physicians out there, and that’s made possible through services like PhysEmp, which are really invaluable to companies like ours, and also our contacts, which are extensive in their own right.”
Competitive pricing is key in the recruiting industry, where there are extensive costs for overhead, candidate searches, and labor. Sonko says EMG tries to keep their physician recruiting fees lower, and in addition, they offer discounts on sourcing nurses, PAs, or medical supplies.
The Future Looks Bright
That formula seems to be working for them. If the proof is in the pudding, the fact that EMG started in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area and quickly became national shows the team is made of good stuff.
“Now we’re across the country and in all specialties,” says Sonko. “We began with a focus on primary care, family medicine, and smaller practices, because of our price point, but now we’re getting mid-range and large practices as well.”
The future looks bright for Lamin Sonko and Ahmed Elsayyad. If this is what they’ve accomplished by twenty-two, we can hardly wait to see where they—and EMG—will be in the next few decades.