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How to Have Success Becoming an Attending Physician

I became an attending about 3.5 years ago as of the writing of this post. But I first wrote a lot of these thoughts right when I first became an attending physician in July 2020. Becoming an attending physician can be scary for a lot of reasons. With more autonomy comes more responsibility. But being honest, the hardest part of becoming an attending was…well, becoming an attending.

Throughout our life as future attending doctors, the road is hard.

But it is a very well-defined road

Go to college.
Get into medical school.
Match into residency.
Do a fellowship.

All of these steps have applications and centralized databases of schools/programs to choose from. Our decision making is so hands-off that for residency and fellowship, we just open a letter or e-mail that tells us where we will be training.

It’s an odd process. But it can be comforting as the options are defined and limited and, at a certain point, we are just told what we are going to do. It often can even lull us into a false sense of security where we don’t spend enough time thinking about what we actually want. We focus instead on what we need to do.

And then, we must fly on our own…

All of a sudden, we get to the end of our training and need to find a job. Our life is about to start in a whole new way.

For the first time, we are free agents.

becoming attending physician
Me and Steezy (now a famous Park Ave plastic surgeon) one night before my graduation

Finally, we get to pick and choose what type of job we want and where it’s located. You need to negotiate contracts (and, by the way, here are some great tips for doing that!). Heck, we even get handed a huge salary increase along with a signing bonus and need to decide what to do with it. Do we buy a house? Get that fancy car?

Sounds great, right?

Becoming an attending physician is actually quite stressful

All of the things I listed above about being a free agent sound fantastic. But the reality is that we have never faced these types of options or made these types of decisions before. And now we feel the pressure of our future and possibly our family’s future, if we have them.

It feels a little bit like we are Lewis & Clark being sent out West without a map…where do we even begin?

To make matters worse, we don’t have a guide like Sacagawea (pronounced Tsakaka-wea…I just learned this and it blew my mind).

Successfully becoming an attending physician

I really struggled with all of these factors as I began to plan my transition from trainee to attending. Further, I’ve heard from many other past, present, and future attending physicians that this transition almost felt agoraphobic. Too much freedom and open space that resulted in overwhelm.

However, I now stand on the other side of becoming an attending physician and can claim that I have done so successfully.

I love my job.
My family is extremely happy.
Our finances are in order as we work towards financial well-being and freedom.
Our overall well-being is greatly improved.

How did I do it?

My transition was by no means easy. It required a huge evolution in mindset, approach, and strategy.

I needed to take a long and hard look at my goals after experiencing burnout in training. My focus transitioned from what I thought I needed to do to what I wanted to do. I came to terms with the truth that it is not always necessary to do the hardest thing just to prove that I can do it. I’ve already proved this to myself! There is no one else to impress.

I got in touch with the basic principles of what makes me happy. I answered questions like:

  • Why did I choose this career in the first place?
  • What does my ideal workday/week/month look like?
  • What does my ideal life look like?

But there were a lot of other things that I had to figure out

This change in mindset was huge and set the foundation for me to succeed. But there were a lot of nuts and bolts things that I still needed to figure out to make this transition from trainee to attending. Things that I had never experienced or learned about before, much like the overwhelming majority of trainees that came before me and will come after me.

Things like:

My approach was to painstakingly figure everything out

Like everyone before me, I figured each of these things out on my own and made the decision that me and my wife felt was best. (This is key, make sure that you and your partner are on the same page!)

This was a long, challenging, and painstaking process.

You can choose a similar approach and figure everything out on your own. Or, you can accelerate your growth and expand your knowledge to achieve success.

Becoming an attending physician doesn’t have to be this way for you!

Having just successfully completed the transition from trainee to attending and know firsthand just how confusing, challenging, and directionless it can be, my goal is to help physicians of all specialties thrive in this transition personally, professionally, and financially! 

With this in mind, I created an online course specifically geared for this exact purpose!

This course is called Graduating to Success: How to Find Your Dream Job, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Be the Happiest Attending in the Hospital!

The course includes 8 modules that will take you step by step through the process of successfully becoming an attending physician from growing a healthy mindset to finding your perfect job to investing your money and getting your first home (and more!)

becoming attending physician
graduating to success
the prudent plastic surgeon

There is also a bonus module on Real Estate Investing for Physicians. Even more, the course includes over 10 downloadable items, including a budget template and guide to creating your very own written financial plan, as well as a free 45 minute coaching consultation with me!

My passion is to help people exactly like you to be successfully and achieve financial well-being. My goal with this course is to do exactly that and to make it as accessible and available to as many physicians of all levels as possible.

Invest in yourself!

Whether you are a medical student, trainee, or attending, this is your window to create the life that you want! This is your chance to find your dream job, achieve financial freedom, and be the happiest attending in the hospital. I would be honored to help you achieve all that you are capable of!

If you are interested but still not sure or have any questions, please contact me anytime at [email protected]!

What do you think? Are you nearing the transition from trainee to attending? How have you prepared? What are your goals? Are you already an attending? Is there anything you would like to change?

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

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