Thanks to a momentary lapse in judgement, Dr Jim Dahle let me guest post on White Coat Investor. As a long-term Boglehead, money nerd and WCI fan this is a dream come true. If you didn’t read Stop Whining About Job Satisfaction yet, I suggest you go check it out.
Many of you probably read the WCI post and came here to light me up for telling fellow physicians to quit whining. That’s OK. I’m sure yelling at a stranger on the internet will make you feel better. Before you pull the trigger, just hear me out.
Everyone deserves a career that is both financially and personally rewarding. Unfortunately, burnout is all too common in the medical profession. The worst part of burnout isn’t even the stress – it’s the feeling of hopelessness. If you feel like there is no way out of your current situation, I’ve got some good news. There are plenty of physician role models in the trenches who have found a way to boost their career satisfaction.
We needed someone to walk us through our first lumbar puncture, our first suture and our first delivery. Why not let some of these physician role models teach you how to rekindle your love of medicine? Here are 10 things more productive than whining about job satisfaction and the physicians who did them.
It’s amazing how much more enjoyable being a doctor is when you simply do it less.
You may recall when White Coat Investor was able to go part time (although running a multimedia company on your days off may not count as going part-time to most people).
Cut Out Nights
I have a love/hate relationship with night shift. There’s a “we’re going to survive this together” camaraderie on night shift that you just don’t find during the day. >90% of my best rectal foreign body stories have occurred between 9 PM and 7 AM. On the other hand, I haven’t had a consistent sleep schedule since 2008. I wouldn’t recognize a circadian rhythm if it slapped me in the face.
Some docs work for groups that allow partners to opt out of night shifts. Xrayvsn was able to find a unicorn radiology job where he never works nights or weekends. White Coat Investor was able to cut out nights entirely when we went part-time.
Not every group is so understanding. Some docs have taken matters into their own hands. Crispy Doc has a great guide to Group Policy Change you should check out if your group needs to be sold on the idea of more flexible scheduling.
Cut Out Stress
Night shift isn’t the only thing you can cut out of your career to improve job satisfaction.
Actually Use Your Vacation Time
Physicians squander a lot of their vacation time. Whether it be concern over lost revenue or just the guilt of leaving their patients, many doctors only use a fraction of the vacation time their contract allows.
Just like time away from your children can make you a more patient and loving parent, time away from your patients can make you a kinder, more effective doctor.
Traveling doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. B.C. Krygowski can teach you all about the art of home exchange. Don’t like the idea of opening your home to strangers? Dr. McFrugal can teach you how to travel hack and use credit card points to travel the globe on the cheap.
No matter how or where you travel, getting away from work is key to liking it more.
Maybe it’s not medicine you need to escape as much as it’s your current work environment.
Millennial Doc can tell you all about toxic work environments. This spring she’s making the leap from primary care to hospitalists medicine. Although she’ll have to let go of some self-imposed guilt, I think the transition will be great for her overall happiness.
Kpeds from Pediatrician Finds FI is going from academic to community medicine so he can have a career that better fits his family’s needs and get’s him closer to his goal of financial independence. Will leaving the ivory tower be scary at first? Of course. That doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it. Just ask Vagabond MD- he told his ivory tower I loved you, but had to stay away.
Dr Carrie Reynolds of Hippocratic Hustle took a huge leap of faith when she left her full time job to pursue travel locums. Now she is able to make more money in less time, plow through student loans and have more time to pursue her passions. Not too shabby, eh?
Variety is the spice of life. Replacing clinical time with non-clinical side gigs makes me appreciate my day job more. Whether it be doing chart reviews from my couch or relaxing at a cardiac rehab, I’ve found ways to make easy doctor money with lower risk and stress than working in an ER.
I’m not the only one who appreciates a good side gig. Millionaire Doc has dabbled in teleradiology. Doc G of DiverseFI has worked every flavor of side hustle, including the lucrative business of nursing home medical directorship. Dr. Cory Fawcett is sharing his experience and expertise by helping fellow physicians as a financial makeover coach.
Most doctors are used to speaking to strangers about their area of expertise. Some physicians make the natural transition to public speaking.
White Coat Investor travels the country speaking on financial literacy. His highly anticipated WCI Conference in 2020 is going to be a money-nerd Woodstock.
Dr. Nisha Mehta (founder of Physician Side Gigs) now does public speaking gigs on achieving better work/life balance. Dr. Kevin Pho (founder of KevinMD) does keynote talks on medicine and social media.
Start a Business
Maybe your daily rut has you dreaming about becoming an entrepreneur. You’re in great company.
Dr. Cory Fawcett built a real estate empire that allowed him to retire from clinical medicine.
Physician Philosopher just published his first book Physician Philosopher’s Guide to Personal Finance, which I suspect will funnel many business opportunities his way.
Not sure where to start? Subscribe to the Hippocratic Hustle podcast and you’ll meet a new physician entrepreneur every episode.
Perhaps moving across town isn’t a big enough change of venue to respark your passion. Maybe you need to take a bigger leap and work overseas.
You could always follow Urgent Care Career‘s footsteps and move to a different country. He earns doctor money remotely doing medical consulting and telemedicine from a low cost country.
Not ready for a full time commitment but want a taste of working abroad? You could always join Physician on FIRE on his next medical mission trip.
When all else fails and you still can’t eke out some happiness, there’s always the nuclear option – quit!
Physician on FIRE reached fat FIRE and plans to retire at age 43.
Between retirement savings and a real estate empire, Dr Cory Fawcett retired from medicine and discovered he didn’t miss it.
Of course, it’s hard to quit when you’re $400,000 in debt and have young kids to feed. If you take White Coat Investor’s advice to live like a resident, treat debt like an emergency and avoid stupid doctor tricks you will be well on your way to morbidly obese FIRE.
I am forever grateful that Dr. Dahle started his blog in 2011 right as I was becoming a new attending. His advice couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m living proof that following his advice early on will put you on the fast track to financial independence.
Less Whining, More Doing
Your medical career is like winning a jackpot. If you are encased in the doctor bubble you may not be able to appreciate the fact that you are well paid, well respected and have more autonomy than most other jobs. If you surround yourself with non-medical friends you quickly realize that even the best job is still…..a job. There’s a reason people need to get paid in order to show up.
Most doctors will experience burnout or disillusionment at some point during their career. So will most non-doctors who have to work for a living. You could sit around the doctors’ lounge whining to anyone who will listen to you. I suggest that your time would be better spent checking out these physician role models and follow their examples.
You don’t have to gut it out being miserable until you retire. Happiness doesn’t have to be a distant destination. If you’ve made it to being an attending, you surely have the brains and the drive to get yourself out of your current situation. I hope these fellow docs inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me.
What do you think? Have you taken any of these steps to improve your job satisfaction? Which physician role model has inspired you the most? Share your thoughts and comments below.