This post is a proud plug for my consulting work I do for readers of this blog. I have been earning good money from this consulting work and I have very positive reviews on my Clarity profile, in return.
This success story is about a family medicine doctor who was working full-time at a university student health center. She was burnt out from this work and we worked together over a span of 6 months to get her into her ideal career.
Burnout in the Student Health Center
I always imagined that working in a student health clinic would be a fun experience for a physician; young, healthy individuals who haven’t yet mastered the art of complaining. In fact, the work apparently sucks as I’ve learned from multiple different sources.
The university student population doesn’t know how to express themselves well, often are poor historians, and access healthcare late in the game. There are a lot of emotional issues to deal with, as well as mental health and substance abuse.
This doctor reached out to me after she came across a telemedicine related topic I wrote about. She emailed me and asked how she could learn more about telemedicine. I sent her links to the most pithy telemedicine posts I had and told her that I’d be happy to do a paid consulting with her if she still needed help.
1.5 months went by and she requested a call with me on clarity.fm for 15 minutes. Her boss at the student health center was about to resign and so was my new physician client. But she was terrified of the financial consequences and didn’t know where else to look for a halfway decent job.
Our call was brief and at $7.50/minute she spent $114 to chat with me. We discussed her finances, career prospects, desired income, and what she disliked most about her current job.
She had never done telemedicine, was afraid of the risk and didn’t know if per diem work would provide adequate income. Getting health insurance for herself and her husband, who was still in school, seemed financially burdensome. She had never signed up for health insurance before and didn’t know what private options there were and didn’t know short-term health insurance was even a possibility.
Dealing With Old Employer
Fortunately she was a full-time employee and so she had some negotiation room. 1 month later this doctor and I connected again on Clarity for a 35 minutes call – ~$262. We discussed how to resign from this job without burning any bridges.
During her transition time she was getting credentialed with American Well and had started as a medical expert on JustAnswer. At the time I didn’t have a Just Answer tutorial to sell her but I walked her through it and she managed to eek out $220 the first week on JA – she was stoked.
Before resigning she asked that the employer cover her health insurance for an extra month and in return she would fill in any staffing gaps for the walk-in clinic at the student health center. Unfortunately, she wasn’t going to vest in the 457 but had already vested in the 403b.
In order to have a backup, she left on the best possible terms and they allowed her to work per diem for the clinic, an option which they had never offered anyone else before. This allowed her to transition into American Well nicely.
She would have benefited from having a financial advisor but like most medical professionals, a financial advisor is out of the question until they hit age 50. Together we discussed her household budget and came up with some ideas as to how to cut back. I later learned that even though she was frugal, her husband was a spendy fella and, short of a brawl, they didn’t want to tackle finances during this career transition.
Speaking of budgets – there wasn’t one. She didn’t have any interesting in budgeting even though I think YNAB would have helped her a lot. It would have helped her with financial planning and taken the stress off of her mind and put it onto a software.
Her salary at the student health services clinic was $155,000. This included a generous 457 and 403b. She got free access to the university gym and library. She also got a $100/month stipend for public transportation which she didn’t use.
She wasn’t able to max out her 403b and she wasn’t able to set anything aside after spending on the household expenses. Even though she was relatively young, she realized that she was missing out on some compounding interests.
My readers know that I love the shit out of telemedicine. If you know how to do it right, it can be one of the easiest things you’ll do in medicine – and you can travel while doing it. I have routinely earned $200+ per hour doing telemedicine because I’m efficient and avoid overprescribing.
She wasn’t very comfortable with technology and was worried that she might get scammed by the telemedicine company. Her other fears were the risk of practicing telemedicine and the low income potential.
During our final consultation call we chatted for 39 minutes at my new rate of $10/minute – ~$400 – and discussed a good telemedicine strategy for her. She learned where to verify potential telemedicine employers and how to research telemedicine laws in the 2 states she was licensed in.
I was online during her first shift and though she seemed nervous, as soon as she got the ball rolling, I didn’t even hear from her. She texted me later that night and told me that it felt a little overwhelming but it was great working from home.
She picked up her second shift which she said was cake compared to the first one. After that she picked up about 20-25 hours a week and was making the
A New Career in Medicine
After about 6 months she checked in with me and they offered her a full-time gig which she brilliantly negotiated down to a part-time gig. What a gangster. She loves the work, loves the hours, loves the flexibility.
She was able to transition out of an unpleasant medical career into a better one. She traded seeing a ton of difficult patients for simpler telemedicine patients. Her income is higher than before and she is more motivated to pay down her debt.
Right before accepting the part-time position, she took my advice and credentialed with a different telemedicine company. This allowed her more flexibility in income sources. Now that she is part-time, however, she cannot work for other companies which she is okay with.
Consulting Success Stories
There many other physicians out there who are doing whatever you hope to be doing one day. Reach out to them and find out what they can teach you. There are physicians who are real estate investors, some who own multiple medical practices, some who are doing consulting, and some who are public speakers.
A good place to find these doctors is on LinkedIn or by looking through the many blogs and podcasts out there these days. Email them, call them, and connect with them. Most will share their knowledge with you for free and it will get you to your goal that much faster.
2 replies on “Consulting Success Story – Burnout from the Student Health Center”
Interesting post. I had wondered what working at a student health center would be like, but assumed it would be a decent job.
How long did she work there before getting burned out?
She did it for 3 years.
I’ve talked to a few other people and apparently it’s not a very desirable job. Either the staff isn’t capable enough or the bosses are bad or the budget is terrible. Seriously, I thought it would be great too but guess I was wrong.