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Dayton Docket

How A Law Degree Can Be Just What The Doctor Ordered

Even at a young age, Ethan Nkana knew what career path he wanted to take.

“My mom told me, ‘Ethan get into medicine because you’re always going to have a job,’” Nkana says.

What he didn’t know is that it would be a law degree that would help him carve out a unique role in the medical field and that he would be the one making that statement about job stability true for others.

“I never thought I’d be here, but I couldn’t be happier with where I am in my life,” Nkana says. “I get to work with doctors who are the smartest people in every room, and I get to help them.”

Where Nkana figured he’d be is on track to become the CEO of a hospital.

“I thought I’d wear a suit and tie and go into the same building every day,” Nkana says.

It was that goal that led him to law school after spending three years working for a hospital. He decided on the University of Dayton School of Law in part so he could work with nearby Kettering Health Network while taking classes.

“I remember law school fondly, but it was challenging,” Nkana says. “I was surrounded by really smart people. We were all in it together.”

After graduating from UDSL in 2013, Nkana continued to climb the ladder in the medical field until one day he ran out of rungs.

“My department closed about two years ago and I was laid off,” Nkana says. “That experience gave me the clarity to realize maybe I’m not on the path I want to be on.”

So with his law degree and his years of experience doing contracts for hospitals, Nkana decided to open his own business, Rocky Mountain Physician Agency (RMPA), which helps doctors negotiate contracts and look for jobs.

“I explain to people that I’m a sports agent, but instead of athletes my clients are doctors,” Nkana says. “I realized physicians don’t have an advocate when they negotiate their contracts. They don’t know what salary to ask for, so you end up with disparities. Doctors don’t always feel valued.”

Since starting RMPA in July 2020, Nkana has tried to educate doctors across the country about the importance of having someone on their side in negotiations. In his role as an agent, Nkana says he still uses the skills he learned in classes at Dayton Law.

“The critical thinking sticks with you along with the way you process problems from both sides,” Nkana says. “In my work, I have to know what the other side is going to say and how to rebut that.”

Nkana also loves the fact that almost a decade after graduating, he can still turn to law classmates to get their thoughts on life or business.

“That means a lot to me to have relationships from that time that have been nurtured over the years,” Nkana says.

Nkana loves his role as an agent for doctors and believes more will soon follow the path he helped pioneer. 

“Doctors need it desperately and lawyers are uniquely positioned to do this,” Nkana says.

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