In undergrad and medical school, we were gunners and had to compete for grades and praise. Now, as attendings, we’re all in it together. Let’s use each other as resources to succeed in our careers and business ventures by connecting with fellow physicians.
In fact, email me now if I can help you get started with something. If you’re getting this as a blog post in your email, just hit reply. You have nothing to lose but a little pride, which, I assure you, is overrated.
Texting Your Fellow Doc for Help
Imagine a scenario with me … you are a family medicine doctor and make friends with a gynecologist and dermatologist in your rock climbing gym. Y’all buddies and on a texting basis. One day, you got a pelvic rash case and you send a text and ask both of them in the group text whether this could be lichen planus or possibly inverse posriasis. What is the chance they’ll ignore you or be annoyed at you for doing so?
Damn near zero!
Is it possible that you might overdo it? Sure. But we’re adults, we know how to set boundaries. That specialist buddy of yours will reply and tell you when too much is too much.
Hey, I’d love to help but honestly, slammed right now.
And this goes both ways; don’t be upset if someone is hitting you up constantly. It’s not the end of the friendship just because you have to set boundaries or even have to express your frustration about them to them.
We’re In It Together
Some of you may not understand this, but the healthcare business is not a zero-sum game; more than enough for all of us.
And if you’re someone reading this, at the top of your game, with 5 satellite clinics pulling in $7m a year, a time will come when you too will be down, when you’ll need help.
And if you’re reading this, and you’re in the pits, in that dark, ugly place feeling alone and confused or overwhelmed, there is another doctor who has been there and knows maybe how to be supportive.
It amazes me how closed-off physicians are who are taking my online course. They are so shy to ask for help, so shy to reach out to their fellow student to ask them to be on their podcast or help them create their first YT video.
Why? You have nothing to lose. Who gives a shit what another doctor thinks of you! They are likely too preoccupied with their own thoughts to have much of an opinion about you anyway. And if they are thinking something negative about you, it’s likely a reaction, and it’s harmless; nothing actionable.
People who email me and chat with me tell me they were too intimidated to contact me. That makes no sense to me. I’m just some blad Persian guy as lost as you, just as confused as you, just as excited about life as you, with similar interests and hobbies as you, and I’m just writing my life here on the screen. I’m intimidated when I have to take your call – what if I don’t know what to say, what if I look like a fool, what if they think I dunno nothing.
You’re Not the First To Go Through It
Got sued? You’re not the first.
Partner left you for the tennis coach? You’re not the first.
You kid committed suicide? You’re not the first.
You selling your business to a PE firm? You’re not the first.
Medical board investigation? …
Thinking of going back to residency? I get 12 emails a day asking about that, alone.
Burn out? Depressed? Suicidal? Wanna move to CR and practice medicine in a village? ….
But finding fellow doctors and approaching them the right way for the purposes of building friendships and community is an art.
You Must Ask for Help
Check out the vulnerability section below. If you can’t be vulnerable, you can’t ask for help. Did you know that when you ask someone for help, they actually feel like you owe them something in return, and that actually sparks a friendship?
The best thing to do when you first move into a new neighborhood is to knock on your neighbnor’s door and ask if they have a drill you could borrow or lawnmower or whatever else. You two are now both vested in an exchange. You just made a friend. A far better friendship than if they came over and offered you some gluten-bomb cookie platter.
Making Meaningful Connections
Exit that shitty FB group where you all are just complaining and nagging about COVID vaccines and healthcare or admin. That is toxic and will drag you down in the long-run even if it feels good in the short-term.
The truth is that there are no bad patients, no evil corporations, and medicine doesn’t owe us anything. We aren’t overworked or underpaid. The state medical board wasn’t out of line, and nothing could have prevented your burnout.
The fellow physicians worth connecting with are those who understand this to be a journey and not a checklist of accomplishments and virtual complaining for comisery.
And, I shouldn’t even say physicians, you’ll have so much more to learn from dentists, psychotherapists, pharmacists, NPs, PAs, and health coaches. Your MD and DO is not superior and won’t keep you warm at night.
You’re not that smart. You’re not that hardworking. You really didn’t excel in school the way you think you did. Meritocracy always takes a backseat to genuine social connections.
As a family medicine doctor and urgent care physician, I’m definitely subpar. As a website designer and writer, I’m in the 10th percentile, if I’m being generous. I’m a puny little entrepreneur and I probably charge too much for my services.
But guess what, that’s all okay. Those aren’t the things I want to be remembered for, measured by, or be held accountable to. What I am fucking great at is being a good friend and I’m funny as fuck.
Be The Resource To Others That You Want
Let me toot my horn for a minute, I reply to every text and email and website comment. I reply to every healthcare professional on my YT channel and I do free career consulting for medical students and residents. That’s because I would have wanted that and it makes for better doctors.
If you’re too overwhelmed to help a fellow doc, you got too much on your plate. I’m not gonna tell you to stop taking your kid to the horseriding school or dump the real estate business that’s not really taking off, but you need headspace.
Reach out to a resident, medical student, primary care doctor, or whoever, and offer a free chat. Don’t do it virtually. COVID is over! Meet up in person if possible. Get a couple of pints in you. Get hopped up on coffee and sugar and just chat. No goal in mind, no agenda, just chat.
And don’t complain. That, you can do with your partner or priest/sheikh/rabbi or therapist.
Where to Make Connections
Learn to have side conversations wherever you are. You’ll never see someone’s real side in a public forum or large-group chat; humans are just not designed to display their real self when everyone is watching.
You can find great fellow doctors (and other healthcare professionals) on any forum. But you have to start the side conversation and chase after people. Be the person who is vulnerable, honest, and genuinely yourself when you post a comment. You don’t have to impress anyone and nobody will be impressed. When I’m reading a thread, I’m always thinking of clever things to say anyway; I’m so obsessed with myself that I don’t see through your brilliance.
Here are some places you can explore:
Meddit, as the cool kids call it, is a place where medical high school is alive and thriving. But you can chat with people separately and you can make good connections.
Get into the habit to message people you find interesting or who might be in your area. Chat them up. Ask them personal questions – just don’t be creepy.
I can’t stand the look of FB or the amount of ad crap that’s on there. But if you are on the physician mom groups or physician cycling groups or whatever, start some side-convos.
I tried to link some here but the spam content in them made me gag. You’re on your own on FB. If you know of any good ones, link it in the comments below.
I don’t go to these to learn medicine. I’m jaded by medicine, and the only thing left to learn is the brand name of yet another drug and yet a new side effect like aspiration pneumonia with GLP1s.
But they are great places to find someone who looks and feels as lost as you and grab a noon-beer together. Don’t worry; midday beers are totally normal in the rest of the world, and nobody will judge you. Here in Spain, it’s actually encouraged.
Do fun conferences. Forget the “What’s New in Anesthesia” conference. Go to a Dentistry or Obesity Medicine conference. Go to some Health IT conference.
Take an online course where you’ll meet other physicians with similar interests. The best to find these is to follow your favorite physician online and they likely have some community forum or course they offer.
Enroll. You’re not trying to learn everything the course creator created; that’s insanity. You’re trying to get the gist and make connections.
I don’t fully understand what the SoMeDocs is about but I think I’m liking what they are doing more and more.
Leave comments on YouTube channels where fellow physicians or HPs hang out. Start a conversation and find each other on LinkedIn or wherever else you hang out.
If you have a favorite YT-er, message them directly but know they likely are flooded with spam and won’t even see your message. Unless, their channel is relatively small. In that case, your chances are much higher.
LinkedIn is becoming more popular for doctors. It is also becoming a lot more like IG and FB with its shitty ads and memes and political debates, but you can filter that out; it’s worth it.
I would tell you to join the Nomad Physician group I created but with nearly 100 people, it’s pretty dead. No conversations. But likely a great place to start.
Bonus: How Can You Facilitate Physician Networking?
I don’t like the word networking because it’s been hijacked a bit colloquially. But think about what you could do to connect doctors with each other.
First, never create something that you then open up to marketers. You’ll lose all of your street cred in a snap.
1. Weekly Drinks
If you work in a large medical group then find the docs you like and invite them out for drinks. Create a Whatsapp group and people can vote on the next bar and make it a regular thing. Show up even if nobody goes.
Set the ground rules: nothing political, no ripping on anyone, no complaining, but all vulnerability or personal hurdles are welcome.
2. Monthly Dinner
Got a nice house? Shit, I know you do! Your $8k dining table really isn’t getting much use. Do a potluck dinner at your house Friday nights and invite fellow docs, NPs, PAs, pharmacists.
Always have one large dish like a potato salad or pizza you make in case there ain’t enough food. People bring their own drinks and food and they leave with it. Easy cleanup.
Set your ground rules. Have a topic in mind you’ll bring up. Encourage people to exchange phone numbers.
3. Mastermind Group
These are fun because it’s all about helping each other. When they get too big shit goes south quickly. 7-9 people is perfect. Lots of other side socials may spark from this. Keep the focus super broad or really narrow.
But it’s like AA, you meet once a month and talk about what went well and what didn’t. There are lots of great MM group formats available for you to imitate.
4. Virtual Community
So many platforms now let you create virtual communities. But if you don’t have a theme or mission it’ll become a bitch-fest in 2 minutes.
Design it with a mission in mind; whatever interests you have, there is at least one other doctor with the same.