You are more than your specialty….

Let that sink in for a minute….  You have spent countless hours pursuing the goal of becoming a Physician.  You have a dream job….  One of those jobs that children say they want be when they grow up.  Why would you ever feel “confined” “trapped” “defined” by your specialty.

If you are reading this now you understand exactly what I am talking about.  But do not be discouraged.  Carpe Diem MD is focused on improving mindset, crushing limiting beliefs and freeing your limitless potential in Medicine, Finance and life.

Being a physician is a great honor but unfortunately the fresh white coat can wear over time. We can become exhausted and sometimes numb in our practice.   This has been defined as burn out.  It is not unique to Medicine but it has become more understood and accepted over the years.

Emergency Physicians, Intensivists, Internists and Oncologists experience some of the highest levels of burn out with Emergency Physicians exceeding 50%.  These numbers can be quite alarming and are not limited to these specialties. 

Administrative paperwork, EHR, patient flow, lack of physician autonomy, financial stresses, student debt and being a part of the squeeze generation (squeezed between responsibility for your aging parents and growing children) drive burn out. 

The external causes of burn out:  EHR, loss of autonomy, risk of medical malpractice lawsuits and poor leadership will require systemic change.  However, these changes will take time but the good news is that there are changes that you can make today, Carpe Diem.

If you focus on your Mindset/Limiting Beliefs and work toward Financial independence you will dramatically improve your quality of life and your practice of Medicine.  In addition, you can decrease your work hours and/or change your practice.  You might want to achieve all four or chose to focus on mindset and financial independence. Over time you will develop your own personalized plan of the four principles below.  As long as you start with Mindset and addressing Limiting beliefs the rest will follow.

  1.  Mindset and Limiting Beliefs
  2.  Decrease work hours
  3.  Change your practice
  4.  Financial Independence

Mindset and Limiting Beliefs:

Mindset:

  1. A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.
  2. An inclination or a habit.

The first definition describes mindset as “fixed” but this is not true and you can change your mindset.  It takes time and practice but you have the ability change the way you process the world around you.  Working on your mindset can result in immeasurable improvements in your practice, your relationships and life in general.

Limiting Beliefs:

A limiting belief is something that you believe that limits your potential and often will focus on the negative.

Some examples:

  1. I would like to invest in real estate but I do not have the money or knowledge.
  2. I want to try something else in Medicine but I do not have the time to learn a new field. 
  3. I really want to decrease my work hours but I can’t because….
  4. Teaching is one of my dreams but I don’t think people will want to listen to me.
  5. There are smarter people out there that are already in my desired field.
  6.  What makes you think that you can accomplish….

Improving your mindset by addressing your limiting beliefs will release your Carpe Diem MD.  I have some personal examples of limiting beliefs that I experienced when developing my practice in Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine.

  1.  I want to practice Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine but I don’t know enough about the specialty.

Reframe:  I will learn more about Wound Care by taking courses and become certified by the American Professional Wound Care Association to improve my practice.

  •  My training is in Emergency Medicine and I am “quitting” if I leave EM to practice  

       Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine.

 Reframe:   I am very fortunate that I discovered an additional field in Medicine that I enjoy and it is okay to practice both Wound Care and Emergency Medicine.  You are not defined by your specialty. 

Work hours:

The ability to decrease your work hours will dramatically decrease symptoms of burnout and improve your quality of life.  Decreasing your work hours can be achieved via financial independence…  This is not a universal truth.  There are many physicians that are happy with their work hours.  However, if you are feeling tired, exhausted, missing family events, then you will notice a significant improvement in your quality of life if you decrease your work hours.  You will also notice that your practice will improve.

Change your practice:

Changing your practice can be done but is one of the hardest things for us to do in Medicine.  If you are happy in your practice then this is not for you….

  1.  Changing your Specialty by returning to residency.  This is the hardest, most drastic change and the medical system is set up to deter this option.  We all know people who in the 3rd year of their surgical residency went back to Emergency Medicine or Radiology etc but this becomes very difficult to do after residency. Expenses and the required time to complete an additional residency are the main reasons one would avoid this option.  The other thing to consider before making this change is whether you truly want a specialty change or are you running from yourself (mindset).  If you are running from yourself you will be there at the end of the next round of training. 

However, there are some physicians that are looking for different ways to practice Medicine.  Additional practice options include:   urgent care, medical spas, Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, administrative work, concierge medicine, expert consultation, medical directorships and so on.

  •  Change your group:  You can work to change the culture in your group or leave to a new group if the leadership and culture cannot be changed
  • Change your Mindset:  You can work on your mindset if you notice that some of the problems you are experiencing are related to your own beliefs and how you are processing the environment around you.

Financial Independence:

I think that financial independence is what will truly set you free as a physician.  It is also a subject that is very difficult for physicians to discuss.  In fact, I would say that many of us feel guilty or ashamed to talk about finances.  We did not become Physicians to make money.  Our fundamental drive is to help people and a side effect of that is that we become High-income earners. 

Becoming a High-Income Earner often results in the “Doctor life style”.  Many of us fall for the trap after residency of buying the house, the car etc and before we know it our “high income” barely covers our expenses and we are stuck.  Add in high student debt for many of us and we are one fall away from disaster (see The Fall).  Robert Kiyosaki describes this scenario perfectly in “Rich Dad Poor Dad”.   I really believe that the earlier you can learn about your finances and convert from being a High-Income earner to an Investor the better your life will be and the longer you will be able to happily practice Medicine.

The goal of Carpe Diem MD is to release your Limitless potential by helping to improve your Mindset, crush limiting beliefs and achieve financial independence.  I am on this journey and will share my personal successes and tragedies in hopes that we can grow together.

“For many people, the power of their excuse is more powerful than their dreams.”-Robert Kiyosaki

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