I am a Mid-Career Anesthesiologist who after practicing Medicine for since 2001, developed some major burnout. I started my medical career two years after college. Before medical school, I enjoyed some real-life experience by running a family owned plumbing contracting company. Despite some financial success I decided to complete my childhood dream of becoming a doctor. I knew getting into medical school would be very challenging given my not so perfect undergraduate grades and MCAT scores. I decided to go back to college for a post-baccalaureate course of study in preparation for medical school and re-taking my MCAT. I left my family, my job, my house and just about everything I owned to pursue this dream in another state. That year I lived on $7000 and used all my time to study, exercise and sleep. After completing the year and getting an excellent MCAT result, I was able to get into medical school and begin my medical career. For the next eight years, I feel like I lived in a vacuüm with little to no contact to the outside world. I can honestly say I was ready to practice medicine on day one after graduating my residency. What I was not prepared for was life. Medical school does not teach or train physicians to become business oriented, financially savvy or even prepared to deal with life outside of the patient-physician relationship. As a result, I learned these lessons on my own. I and many others like me learned through trial and error. I am eternally grateful for many of the mentors I have had throughout the years, but I found “failure” to be the greatest teacher of all. I survived my first job through pure determination and tenacity, but in the end, I wish I had more guidance and wise counsel. I rose too quickly in my organization and took on too much responsibility which left me with little time to spend with my family and time to focus my personal growth. The skill set required to complete my job exceeded my time and ability, and I didn’t have enough wisdom to set healthy boundaries. After burning the candle on both ends in full-time medical practice and “part-time” administration, I burned out. This event ultimately lead to a well executed “leadership change” by the hospital adminsitration. Having my leadership work attached to my identity felt like another dagger in an already stressful situation. I slowly picked up the pieces, rediscovered a passion for my practice but realized that I need more fulfillment outside of clinical practice.
After discovering physician bloggers who advocate financial literacy and financial independence, I realized my new found calling. I consider myself a disciple of Thomas J. Stanley, Robert Kiyosaki, and Dave Ramsey. Early in residency I decided to live a frugal lifestyle and set goals to eliminate my debt. Like Mike Tyson has stated, “Everyone has a good plan until they punched in the Face!” My first job felt like a good punch in the face and add to that the challenges of starting a family with a child with special needs. My plan ended, and soon I found my self in the trap of lifestyle inflation despite my own core beliefs. Once I lost my medical directorship and the extra money that accompanied it, I realized my financial security as a physician did not stand on firm ground. If I were to lose my employment at any point, I could jeopardize my entire family. I decided the only insurance that could prevent such a loss would is Financial Independence.
Now, I am on a new journey to help others avoid pitfalls in medicine and in the process gain some useful tools to help them not only avoid burnout but Thrive. As a former burnout survivor, who continues to grow, I would like to share with other physicians some strategies, like FI, for not only surviving but thriving in medicine and surgery.
Peace, Love and Tranquility,