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Knowing When To Cut Back On Work

Don’t Work So Much That You Start To Hate It – Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

I’ve worked full-time+ since the start of residency. 1st year sucked because my UCLA family medicine residency was excessively inpatient heavy. CCU and ICU etc. By the end of 1st year I knew had it figured out so I applied sometime in June and got my medical license to practice 4 months later, 10/2006.

I have been working like I got 3 baby mama’s ever since. The first 3 years were just incredible. Exciting, easy, fun and I learned a ton. The nurses I worked with were bright and hard-working.

I would constantly run into the same doctors moonlighting in various clinics. I was working in Long Beach, Orange County, Los Angeles, Valencia, Redondo Beach, Culver City… All of us loved it. Being given the opportunity to moonlight was such a privilege and we learned a lot from each other.

I have realized that I’m a loner in some aspects and a very social creature in other ways. I need my down time, INTJ all the way. Alone time makes me feel rejuvenated. A large social gathering gives me mild diarrhea and I need a day to recover from it.

I always need 1-2 really good friends around to whom I’m dedicated too. My BFF and I have been friends for probably 4 years now. She is totally different from me but we get each other and though we never talk on the phone we stay in touch nearly daily. I’m a single guy for whom practicing medicine is an afterthought, she is a happily married mom of 2 beautiful girls who knows her shit but frets about every single medical case.

If I was sick I would go to her, that’s saying a lot. There is one other person whom I would visit if I was sick and that’s about the extent of it.

My BFF and I worked in the same clinic for a long time but we don’t practice medicine the same so we didn’t hang out at work. She would come frantically to me about some case which I thought wasn’t even worth discussing and she would storm off annoyed because I wasn’t being helpful.


I never wanted to cut back on work back then… I liked it a lot, the nurses were awesome. Every weekend we would all go out for drinks and food after the Saturday shift, we had a great time. We were an awesome, solid group who were dedicated to what we were doing.

Some time in 2013 I realized that I was on the right track with my finances, saving what I could and aggressively paying down my credit cards and student loans. I worked a ton all of 2013 and 2014.

My BFF and I are still great friends to this day but she wasn’t someone who could be my work buddy. I was too dismissive and she was too detail-oriented. I wanted to constantly punch her in the face and she couldn’t stand that I was so flagrant. To this day, we have medical arguments back and forth over email.

I moved to Portland because I wanted a change in culture, staying with the same medical group. Here, I found my work buddy right away. He wasn’t full-time because apparently people in the Northwest like to enjoy their lifestyle, most docs here work part-time.

He definitely had more medical knowledge than I but I caught up quickly. I started looking every fucking thing up on UpToDate for the first few months. He is the only other doctor who I would visit if I was having sudden unexplained anal prolapse with arthralgias and splinter hemorrhages.

I moved to PDX end of 2014. By end of 2015 I had saved enough money that I could have cut back to part-time and would have been just fine. All I needed to do is work enough to cover my overhead and let the money which I had saved grow in my investment accounts.

But I couldn’t. I loved coming into work and hanging out with my work-buddy. We would run cases by each other, clean out the waiting room and hang out after work. Financially I didn’t need to work that much, emotionally it was still important to me.

Then he decided to drop down to 50%. I was really happy for him because he had no student loan debt, was a diligent saver and lived a simple life. But I missed working with him… wtf, working a shift by myself was like having to sit through a 10-hour lecture in med school. Fuck that.

We would be talking shit at work all day long, play rap, R&B or house. Make coffee runs and see each other’s patients if the other person was behind. He is a good cook so he’d make some good fucking grub which I would happily polish off. He is computer-tarded so I’d help him with the EMR or scheduling shit. We go and throw the football whenever there is downtime between patients.

I can ask him any fucking patient question and though sometimes he thinks he is Doogie-Fucking-Houser and goes off on the deep end, for the most part he is brilliant and has helped me avert disaster more than once.

So, that piece of shit cut back to 50%. Going to work with my dick in my hand was depressing because I no longer had anyone to hand with. At that point I was in a few different administrative roles and working full-time+ (I’m slowly transitioning to part-time). I don’t need the money but I don’t want to admit to myself that I am no longer that work-horse I once used to be.

Simply put, you know it’s time to go down to part-time either because you are no longer excited to be at work or because you have met your financial goals in your career.

There is no shame in admitting that the job no longer is challenging or that it no longer scratches your itch. Fuck the people who don’t get it. Many will judge you, your own partner or parents may judge you.

If you have saved enough and know the money will compound enough interest over time to meet your goals then dropping down to part-time might be the right move.

Perhaps that means you will have more time with loved ones, more time with yourself or at the very least you will have to do less brain-numbing work.

Is it bad to say that my work has become brain-numbing? Can you imagine if a brain surgeon said that? “Yea, I’m no longer challenged by my job, it has become easy and boring, I could do it in my sleep.” Fucking hilarious.

Well, even a neurosurgeon will reach that point, so will a family doctor or an urgent care doctor. Bug bites are now pathognomic. I can recognize shingles without a rash. There is not a splinter that can evade my forceps.

By working as much as I am I might even be doing harm. It’s unhealthy to go to work and not feel challenged. It’s unhealthy to force oneself to endure a 10-hour shift.

I would rather do just enough work to miss it, stay at work long enough to make a difference but not too long as to develop anal prolapse. I feel that I have found my balance and part-time will be much more enjoyable than my full-time+ schedule.


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