As physicians, we are doing our best to practice medicine in a system that is broken – on one hand, stuck in a mindset of past generations, on another, hurtling into an environment that is increasingly ruled by insurers, big business, and countless uncertainties.
Too often, this discord is converting the brightest, most driven and hardest working prodigies into burnouts. But undervalued, frustrated, and stuck physicians cannot be the end of the story.
Disruption is an opportunity for reinvention – on many levels.
Here are ten suggestions for growth and reinvention in an environment that’s often out of sync with our expectations from when we began this profession.
Conflict and obstacles are opportunities to learn, grow and become better. I experienced considerable disruption 20 years ago when I was fired from my second job. As a result, I created my own practice and designed a life in medicine that mirrors my passions and uniqueness. That never would have happened were it not for what felt like a major crisis.
Take every opportunity to view obstacles as a catalyst to explore other options and convert uncertainty to possibility.
Rethink and Reinvent
The forces within medicine for cost containment and redistribution of services reveal priorities of hospitals and health systems that are centered on their survival and financial success. For those of us who feel as if physicians have been set aside as variables to optimize, the burden is on each of us to choose what serves our visions for our future.
Learn and Grow
Continuous learning was one feature that attracted me to medicine, and it is essential that our education expands beyond the science of our patients’ bodies. Now is the time to become more knowledgeable about innovation, finance and business and commit to a mindset of growth amidst the disruption of our value and profession.
Not often enough do we hear about increases in longevity and quality of life due to our incredible medical successes. There are so many opportunities every day to celebrate our success. I have discovered that I must actively grow the positivity in my life. In our practice we display thank-you cards and online reviews from patients whose lives have been changed. I insist my patients celebrate when the diagnosis is good and I intentionally start my day with positive ideas that power the day and life I want to lead.
Sharpen the Focus on Finances
Until recently, doctors have not shared information on the business of medicine. Thank goodness for websites such as Passive Income M.D., and White Coat Investor which help educate doctors about their money and financial decisions.
Many books, blogs, and podcasts now provide a wealth of knowledge, strategies, and communities to educate and empower physicians toward personal success and financial freedom. These resources are essential to thriving in the future and providing breathing room in a doctor’s life.
We live in an age in which so many are empowered by sharing their vulnerability, but physicians remain unlikely to do this. I have discovered that sharing my reality and vulnerability has increased my own compassion and connection with patients and friends. This sharing is vital to the trust patients place in us. It is time for physicians to speak out about being people too, whether in mastermind or Facebook groups or our academies and societies.
Find Your Tribe
Competition in our education and training groom us for independence and doing it all on our own. Now is the time for cooperation and teamwork. Social media platforms are presenting new communities for honest exchanges to remind us that we are not alone. Within a tribe of like-minded individuals, we gain strength and courage to take risks and expand beyond our false limitations.
Promote Our Value
Between the fear of risk, a decade of expensive education, limited income, mounting debt and continually decreasing reimbursements, physicians are feeling devalued and obligated to saying “yes” to less. As a profession, we need to encourage and empower each other to discover and declare our value, as well as our freedom, creativity and choices within or outside of medicine.
Many physicians feel stuck and waiting for retirement while being bombarded with more rules and restrictions every day.
As I mentor kids in high school and college, I still feel like I’m just beginning. I continue to learn and expand my life and its possibilities. My patients remind me that my life is a gift. Every day, we have a choice. I believe it is vital to not stop dreaming and growing this amazing life. Creativity nourishes our fulfillment and rekindles our spirit for life.
Follow Your Bliss
We must focus on what we love and grow that part of our days. I have discovered renewal, peace, joy and clarity from abundant resources outside of medicine and in making choices different from my training that sync with my soul and excite me. I encourage all doctors to consider what feeds them and drives them and follow that direction to happiness, even if it is different from our attendings and role models in training.
Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” It is time for doctors to fall back in love with their dream. To take risks outside if medicine and rediscover the possibilities they aspired towards as a pre-med even if it is not the same picture they had planned.
If we have excelled through pre-med, medical school, residency and board exams, we are prime to succeed in whatever we set out mind and hearts. Outside and inside medicine, give yourself permission to be yourself and to be happy. It may not be easy. It may not be as planned. But it will be worth it.
Brett Levine, M.D. is an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon and creator and founder of Q4DailyInspiration.com to start your day with positivity and possibility.