The Journey Begins…

Editor’s note: Today’s Post is from our PhREI Network partner, Jordan Frey MD, The Prudent Plastic Surgeon.

This week marks the 1 year anniversary of The Prudent Plastic Surgeon blog. The post below is the origin story of The Prudent Plastic Surgeon. I hope enjoy the post and will join Jordan and Selenid on their financial journey…

Ever heard of a Poor Plastic Surgeon? No? Well then, this financial journey is for you…

My name is Jordan Frey. Thanks for coming by!

To get things started, I’d like to share a little bit about myself and why I decided to share my story.

First off, I’m married to my wonderful wife, Selenid, who is a college professor and have two amazing boys, Samuel and Emery.

I just finished my plastic surgery training after medical school, which consisted of 6 years of residency and 1 year of microsurgery fellowship, all in New York City, and started as an attending surgeon in my hometown of Buffalo, NY (best chicken wings = Duff’s) as of July 2020.

Despite that succinct summary above, I’m never quite sure how to answer when people ask what I do

Usually I say something like “I work at the hospital” or “I’m a surgeon.” Something vague enough that there are not too many follow-ups. It’s not that I dislike what I do, in fact I love it. It’s just that when you tell people you are a plastic surgeon, they instantly have a picture in their mind.

And I am just not that plastic surgeon. 

The mental image when most people hear “I’m a plastic surgeon” is of an impeccably manicured woman or man in a designer dress or custom suit sitting in a luxurious Park Avenue office with a look that says “Let’s make you beautiful.” Their dinners have at least 5 courses and their pocket squares or handbags have their own closets. They have Hampton summer houses and standing reservations (COVID time excluded) at Eleven Madison Park (if you can’t tell, my perception of extravagance is painted by training in New York City). 

I was ashamed to admit that I was nowhere near achieving this status and had no idea how I would. The problem was that I didn’t even know if I wanted it, but I do have to say that I felt for a long time like I needed it.

Even in training, working long hours and making less money, this standard that equates wealth with expensive things seemed to seep into all of us. This belief is pervasive for most, if not all, high income individuals. But, think again of your mental picture of a plastic surgeon; now imagine a nephrologist (kidney doctor). Fair or not, I bet those images looked very different. The thing is, they look different even for people who are plastic surgeons, including me.  I struggled to fit in. 

Up until just recently, the disconnect between this “rich plastic surgeon” image and my reality had me distraught

Don’t get me wrong, I was not poor. But trying to keep up with this image of success that I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to begin with had me feeling like a Poor Plastic Surgeon. Not a great feeling when you’re nearing the end of 7 years of plastic surgery training after 4 years of medical school and 4 years of undergraduate studies, all with the goal of finally reaching this moment. Plastic surgery was and still is my passion, but I felt burnt out. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people in a lot of walks and phases of life can relate to this feeling, regardless of age, sex, location, profession, or training level.

But then something changed

Now, this disconnect no longer bothers me. In fact, it is a source of personal satisfaction. So what changed? 

I learned to ignore the image (real or perceived) of success put out there by others, focus on my passions and goals, and establish a plan for financial well-being, stability, and independence, rather than excess consumerism. I became the Prudent Plastic Surgeon. 

Most blogs seem to begin after the person has already got it all figured out and achieved whatever it is that they are writing about

I must confess that this is different. I am very much in the process of getting to where I want to be. My list of mistakes is long. My mindset was unhealthy. I made just about every wrong financial move that you can make. I was ignorant and scared to learn, for fear of seeing just how badly I had screwed things up. The thing is, I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of you out there who are in the same boat and are probably ashamed to admit it, like I was. 

I found a lot of power in this simple admission: that I did not know what I was doing

Finally, I could move on to the next step: figuring it out. I saw the light and made it a goal to learn. And that is what I have dedicated my time to ever since. I think that we can learn a lot from each other regardless of our backgrounds or current circumstances and I’m hoping we can create a space for that to happen here.

My goal is to help others reach personal and financial well-being by sharing my experiences, failures, successes, growth, and evolution while I go through the same process myself. Some of you will hopefully identify with my story and I can help you grow and achieve these goals along with me. Some of you may be well ahead of me in this journey and I want to learn as much as I can from you as well!

So, thank you for taking this first step with me!

I will be regularly sharing my journey and look forward to learning from all of you.

In this space, I hope to be able to share the financial mistakes that I have made and how I am addressing them as I work towards financial well-being and independence.

We’ll also have fun delving into themes such as mindset, grit, and other interrelated topics that will lead you to personal (and financial) well-being. I probably won’t be able to resist throwing in some life and plastic surgery stories and hope you will share interesting things from your life and career as well! 

Here’s to finding well-being and wealth without the waste!

Get started now!

What do you think? Are you struggling with your or others’ perception of success? How have you shaken this off to focus on your own goals? What does personal or financial well-being mean to you? Leave your thoughts below or feel free to e-mail me at prudentplasticsurgeon@gmail.com.

Lastly, if you enjoyed this, please join our e-mail list below (under the comments), join The Prudent Plastic Surgeon Facebook community, share with your family, friends, and colleagues, or simply come back for more anytime!

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