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Book Review: Determined by Jimmy Turner

I recently finished reading the new book by Jimmy Turner, Determined: How Burned Out Doctors Can Thrive in a Broken Medical System. I really enjoyed it and thought it would be great to share my book review of Determined.

You can also check out my interview with Jimmy about his book here!

About the author

For those who are not familiar, Jimmy is the founder of and writer on The Physician Philosopher.

I started following his work at the very beginning of my financial journey a couple of years ago. And it’s been a lot of fun to watch his evolution and how he helps doctors. While still sharing his perspectives and strategies on personal finance, he has shifted to focus on burnout and coaching physicians.

And this is where his new book comes in…

A book review of Determined: How Burned Out Doctors Can Thrive in a Broken Medical System

It’s obvious from the title of the book that its main goal is to help burned out doctors. What is refreshing though is how he goes about presenting and offering this help.

determined book review

Jimmy uses an evidence-based framework to help doctors understand why they are so burned out in the first place. He reexamines current narratives, reactions, and paradigms that physicians often have.

Through this, he argues that not only can doctors reclaim their sense of purpose and autonomy, but they can also create a life they love. Even if the medical system doesn’t love them back.

This resonated with me a lot before reading the book as I struggled in the past with burnout personally.

As Jimmy proves throughout the book, far from being powerless, physicians have the ability to transform our medical system. We can truly become the heroes of our personal journey without letting the medical system get in the way.

While this is all easy to say, the strength of this book is how Jimmy presents the information and strategies to actually do these things.

To do this the book is broken down into 3 main sections in my mind…

Part I: The broken system

In the first part of Determined, Jimmy talks all about how the medical system is broken. Most of us experience this brokenness on a daily basis but it is still nice to hear it laid out.

Furthermore, Jimmy goes into why the system is broken. This is where I thought things got really interesting. I started to think more and more about the foundation and root of these issues which led naturally into the second part of the book.

But first, I will mention that Jimmy spends a good amount of time addressing an elephant in the room. And that elephant is whether the doctor or the system is responsible for burnout.

This tends to play out in the discussion of whether the correct term for what doctors experience is burnout (which implies responsibility on the doctor) or moral injury (which places the issue externally on the system).

As Jimmy writes, and I agree, burnout is not the doctor’s fault. It is due to the broken system. But bickering about the terminology doesn’t help anything.

Onto part II of Determined and my book review…

Part II: What can doctors do to fix the system

With the broken system of medicine laid out in front of us, there then becomes 2 options for doctors.

We can:

  • Work to change the broken system and/or
  • Work to help ourselves within the system

And these are not mutually exclusive!

So, in Part II, Jimmy goes through activities and strategies to help doctors reclaim their autonomy and help grow a system more conducive to self-determined physicians and healthcare workers.

The easy criticism here would be that doctors are helpless to change the system. In fact, you can even find a review on Amazon to this effect. No one, especially Jimmy or me, is suggesting that changing the system is easy. But we are not helpless or change it and it is not un-changable (is that a word?). The system won’t be changed in a day, week, or year. No one action will change it. But through small steps, we can get the ship moving in the right direction.

That is what Part III is all about and that is what I talk about in more depth in this post: 9 Powerful Ways Financially Free Doctors Can Improve Healthcare.

Part III: What can doctors do on an individual level

Now, with all this said about the changing the system, Jimmy is realistic enough to appreciate that this won’t change in a day as I mention above.

So, physicians need to also work on learning to thrive in this broken medical system. That way, we can focus again on why we love medicine in the first place.

Here is where a lot of the principles from coaching, which Jimmy has used himself and now offers to other doctors, comes into play.

Jimmy shares important strategies like:

  • Recognizing the impact of thoughts on our actions
  • Focusing on the journey over the destination
  • Choosing curiosity over shame
  • Practicing self-compassion
  • Having a “hell yes” policy
  • Among others

I can personally say that many of these strategies were new and eye-opening to me. They have helped me a great deal since I finished the book.

Tying together my book review of Determined

This is 100% a book that I recommend. I enjoy reading this genre of books but even if you are hesitant for “self help,” this one is a must read.

I would even go so far as to say this book should be required reading for all doctors. Heck, even non-doctors can benefit from the thought work introduced here.

And I want to make sure to mention that I have no financial affiliation here at all. I just really found this book helpful and wanted to share my thoughts with all of you.

If you are interested, you can find the book here!

Here are some other mindset focused posts!

What do you think? Have you read Determined? What is your review of the book? Have you ever experienced burnout? Let me know in the comments below!

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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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