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Taking A Break From Medicine

I Decided To Quit Medicine For A While

Talking to loved ones and journaling has been really helpful. In the end I realized that I just don’t care to torture myself any longer. Having anxiety all day at work and the day before a shift is such a draining feeling. Rushing out of the exam room to prevent a panic attack makes me feel like I’m jipping the patient, they deserve adequate attention.

I explained my barriers to quitting in a previous post.

  • losing a regular paycheck
  • feeling like I gave up
  • having to confront my boss
  • feeling a lack of purpose without a job

I started this blog to document my path as a full-time urgent care doctor through the career of medicine. Dealing with debt and expenses all the way through planning and actually retiring.

The retiring part wasn’t supposed to happen until 2019, when I turn 41. Then again I didn’t think I would be financially independent until then. Sometime this year my passive income from my investments equaled my base expenses. This is my definition of financial independence.

So technically I should have walked away when I reached my goal right? The reason I didn’t is ┬ábecause it’s really hard to change… and because I’m greedy. I wanted more money ‘just in case’. And I didn’t want to have to change my lifestyle, quit my job, deal with family/friends etc.

I’ve always been a self-centered person. Not narcissistic but I tend to put my needs ahead of those around me. If I can’t get myself in a healthy state of mind then my interactions with those around me are shit. As I’m getting older I am learning to meditate more, to be less judgmental and respect the feelings of those around me.

Now it’s time for damage control. I always believed that anyone can achieve damn near anything if they were willing to make certain sacrifices. If I trade my peace of mind for my job and its income then I will have sold out. I will become that bitter, miserable and emotionally disconnected doctor abundant in our medical system.

After filling 3 pages of my journal I decided to quit medicine. I sent him a sort of desperate email to let him know that I couldn’t deal with the anxiety anymore and that my blood pressure has been as high as it used to be in medical school. With that forewarning we met up for beers and chatted.

“Hey man, my first priority is to not feel anxious anymore. I’ve tried everything and I appreciate you dropping me down to part-time just a few weeks ago. But I cannot interact without another patient and I can’t step foot into another urgent care until I deal with my anxiety.”

He is trying to keep me on and offered me multiple opportunities to do non-clinical work but I need to break away completely. A few months of not having to worry about seeing patients or doing administrative work will help me figure out what is important to me.

Could I leave medicine and never come back? I think I would miss the clinical aspect and some of the patient interactions. I don’t think I would be butt-hurt if I never came back to medicine – whatever feels right.

What’s next?

I’ll have to figure out the logistics of getting out of the shifts which I’m already scheduled for. I’ll use some sick-time and call in favors from friends.

There is a 90-day notice that my medical group requires which I can overcome by doing some telephone visits with patients, these rarely cause me much anxiety.

I’ll spend the next few months clearing my head. There are tons of things that I am excited to do, they should keep me busy for a while.

My partner and I have some business ideas which I might pursue. It would be nice to generate some income through either a business or working some part-time gig that interests me. Maybe I’ll get a construction job, I’ve always wanted to do that.

2 replies on “Taking A Break From Medicine”

I applaud you for recognizing the opportunity to take a step back before becoming totally burned out. I’m sure the daily anxiety has served as a physical manifestation indicating that it was time to take a step back and forge a new path. Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish to keep your sanity and health. The good thing is you put in all the work to make this possible by being frugal and becoming financially independent. Now you get to work for you and yours and that’s awesome.

Thanks John. I feel fortunate to have the luxury of being able to walk away. If I had some debt and a moderate financial responsibility I probably could have still taken some time off but in my case taking some time off wouldn’t be enough. I need a WHILE off.

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