The path to becoming a doctor, a PA, NP, Pharmacist, Podiatrist, or whatever other healthcare professional role you are in, wasn’t an easy one and it’s riddled with bureaucracy even after you complete your training – everything needed to prevent you from becoming a happy healthcare professional.
If you are unhappy in your role as a healthcare professional then you have to fight to change it. The path of least resistance is to put your head down and plow through the mud to make it through a forlorn career, hoping that something magical will lie in wait on the other end.
A Happy Healthcare Professional
It won’t – to become a happy healthcare professional you have to fight for it.
The minimalist who is finally devoid of all clutter in their life and can breathe a sigh of relief had to go through the drudgery of getting rid of their possessions, even the prized ones and the sentimental possessions. In return their achieved their freedom from possessions.
The rebel doctor, like Dr. Mo here, who opted to retire early and gain back his freedom had to adopt a strict budget, get rid of his car, move to a city more amenable to his lifestyle, and deal with all the family and friends who, with good intention, questioned his lifestyle choice.
Don’t stop fighting but fight from a positive place, from a place where you believe in your heart that there is something out there that’s more in line with who you are.
Define exactly who you are and then design your work around that – the exact opposite of what we do in this society, modifying our existence to mesh well with our jobs.
Fight Without Anger
Fight is an inharmonious word but it doesn’t have to be. I fight to win a thumb-wrestling match and I fight to reach the next hold at my bouldering gym.
I also fight to keep as much of my money in my pocket by learning the IRS tax code and I fight to maximize my investment returns by hiring an expert financial adviser.
Fighting doesn’t have to be violent. Sometimes to win a fight and become a happy healthcare professional you have to just give in – give in and accept that you are unhappy. Don’t fight to make it through another miserable, uninspiring workday but fight to be honest with yourself and those around you.
Happiness At Work
Happiness isn’t jumping for joy or constantly smiling. You could be crying over the death of a loved one and still have a happy soul – those who know the feeling will understand the reference.
The occasional tough day at work or battle with a patient doesn’t mean the work is all-bad.
I can have a terrible day at work where nothing goes right, I am overly conservative in my management. The kind of day where every pharyngitis could be Lemierre’s Syndrome and each CXR appears to have consolidation.
Feeling Good About Your Job
Happiness at work is wanting to go to work and not dreading it. To enjoy the work once you arrive at your job and replaying the day in your mind at night before you go to sleep because you enjoyed the process so much.
A happy healthcare professional doesn’t get anxiety the night before going into work. They don’t need hours of down-time to recuperate after a workday.
The happy healthcare professional is energized by their work and others around her can feel that excitement.
Cutting Back On Hours
Maybe happiness for you could be spending less time at work. Working just a couple of days a week or a month might make you enjoy it enough that you miss it when you aren’t practicing your craft.
For another, to be a happy healthcare professional means piling up 2 weeks worth of shifts back to back and then taking an extended period of time off.
Be flexible, experiment, and find out what brings you more joy.
Focusing On A Niche Population
Maybe you’re exhausted by your low-income patients or your needy affluent ones. Perhaps you enjoy operating on patients but exhausted by the cases you are assigned.
Some surgeons can switch to become moonlighters or pursue their own private/group practice.
Alternatively, switch from Family Medicine to Urgent Care Medicine – that seems to be a popular choice among those who are burnt out by primary care.
Or consider telemedicine.
From time to time I come across a person who thinks that I am abandoning medicine and giving up on it too quickly. In fact, I have fought to get to this position.
I assumed that leaving medicine was a passive move – like when you stop lifting in the gym and you lose all the muscle mass. But you have to fight your own person, the medical board, licensing entities, your colleagues, your family, and your finances in order to leave medicine.
But if you can successfully fight to make the transition out of medicine then perhaps that’s where you will find your happiness.
Path To Happiness In Medicine
I believe that financial independence is a path to happiness in medicine. Not that money will make you happy, rather it’s not having to rely on the income from your job in order to live the lifestyle you desire.
- dissociating from income from medicine
- redefining luxury
- earning profits from investments
- planning your retirement
Going back to living like a college student is a commonly cited analogy – referring to a time when life was so enjoyable that with even the least of possessions, one enjoyed a happy lifestyle.
Though it’s not meant to mean that one actually lives like a college student. It’s supposed to help create a happy healthcare professional through a financial makeover that places less emphasis on a high net worth and focuses on allowing for the kind of lifestyle most in line with our values.