I am really passionate about physician financial well-being. But why? Why did I start this blog? Why do I keep doing it?
Whenever I meet a new doctor either in person or online and I share what I do here at The Prudent Plastic Surgeon, these question inevitably come up. And I love it! In my mind, these are the important questions!
Without having a why for anything that we do, it tends to ring hollow.
Think about medicine…
Without a why in medicine, we experience burnout. This is obviously oversimplified but I know that when I was experiencing burnout, I had a really tough time coming up with why I was in medicine and plastic surgery.
I had a why at the beginning. But somewhere along the way I lost it. Somewhere along the way I started doing things because I felt I had to. Or that other people thought I should do them. The more I lost my why the more I fell into burnout. Because instead of loving what I was doing, it felt hollow.
It took a long time and a lot of thought work for me. But I rediscovered my why in medicine. And I love what I do every day!
But this is not the full story…
This story is missing a very important part however. And that important part ties nicely back into why I care so much about physician financial well-being and love working on this blog to help spread that passion.
Why I care about physician financial well-being
So let’s start, well…at the beginning.
Where I was
At the end of my training, after 4 years of medical school, 6 years of plastic surgery residency, and 1 year of fellowship, I recognized one day that I was burned out. In retrospect, the symptoms of burnout were present for a long time. But I pushed through them, did my best to ignore them or write them off, and just plain old didn’t recognize them.
But when I did recognize those symptoms as burnout, it was shocking to me. To be totally honest, I wasn’t even sure I thought burnout was real before this. But it was. And it was happening to me.
It took me a long time to comes to terms with this. But once I did, I began to search for answers.
Why was I burned out?
In my case as it is for many others, the reasons for multifactorial. And I touched on a bunch of them above.
However, the biggest reason in my case was my finances. Yes, finances! Let me explain…
I was in the final year of my training. Finally about to graduate and become an attending. Everyone in my life was telling me, “Things are going to be great!” and “You’re finally going to start making real money!”
But internally I was screaming,
“You don’t get it! Everything is not great! I have $500,000 in student debt, credit cards bills, no savings, no investments, and I don’t even know the first thing about this stuff. And yes, I am going to be making more money. But I feel like I need to spend it all on a doctor car and doctor house and a suit that fits and all this other stuff! So, no it’s not all going to be great!”
And this created a ton of stress for me!
It also impacted my relationship with medicine. I was angry at medicine. I was bitter. Here I had given my 20’s to medicine and what did I have to show for it? Yup, debt and burnout.
After identifying my finances as a central component of my burnout, I had a choice.
I could keep being bitter or I could do something about it
It sounds like an easy choice but in the moment, it was not. For awhile I did choose bitterness. But, with the help of Selenid, we finally made the decision to do something about it.
We decided together to learn about personal finance and get our financial situation in control. So,
- We started reading and learning together
- We learned about the concept of financial freedom
- I started to develop the simple habits that would lead my to financial freedom
- We started to manage all of our own finances
- And lastly, we developed our written personal financial plan (you can read it here)
What happened next completely shocked me!
I was still in training. Selenid was still finishing her PhD. We still lived in a tiny apartment in NYC that we could barely afford. My income was still a resident salary. Our debts were the same.
But with improved financial literacy and a plan to reach financial freedom in place, my financial well-being shot through the roof!
This combined with other thought work led to an alleviation of my burnout.
And, most shockingly of all to me, I became a better doctor!
I was finally able to focus on why I became a doctor and plastic surgeon in the first place. On what I loved about medicine and plastic surgery. Constant thought of financial stress reduced. No longer was I bitter at medicine. My anger evaporated.
I was a better physician because of my financial well-being.
But this made no sense to me
My whole medical life, I had been told that thinking about money was bad. We did not become doctors because of the money. Worrying about finances would “muddy the water” and make us worse doctors. I heard all of the money myths that get passed around in the doctors’ lounge.
So what did I do as a result of this ever-perpetuating taboo? I ignored my money. And guess what? It made me a worse, burned out doctor.
In fact, it was only when I started thinking about money that I became a better, healthier doctor for my patients.
We had this all backwards!
With this epiphany, I started to see the effects of this harmful misconception all around me in the medical world.
And why I am so passionate about physician financial well-being!
As physicians, we all deserve financial well-being and the ability to work on our own terms. We all deserve to love what we do and be the best, healthiest doctors that we can be. And our patients deserve it.
The personal financial aspects of being a doctor can seem scary (I know I was scared!).
- We have no or minimal financial education
- The concepts seems confusing
- Investing seems risky
- We have massive debt
- And on and on
But it only seems this way because we are too focused on the how of personal finances.
- How can we get out of all this debt?
- How can we invest when it is so risky?
- And how can I even learn about this stuff?
What I have discovered however is that the how’s aren’t actually that hard. They’re not even the important part.
The why is the important part! And that is where we all need to start. Once we have our why down, the how’s will naturally follow! My why made the how’s possible, not the other way around.
And that is why I started The Prudent Plastic Surgeon
My goal, my why, with The Prudent Plastic Surgeon is to share my story, not because it is perfect. Or smooth. Or even linear.
My why is to share my story because it is imperfect. Because it is bumpy. Because it is paved with mistakes.
My why is to show that the how’s can and will change in our journey to physician financial well-being. But as long as our why is constant, we will reach our goals. Because our why is worth it! We are worth it. Our patients are worth it.
Physician financial well-being is such an important, but all-to overlooked, aspect of our overall well-being. It is not something dirty. It makes us better doctors for ourselves and our patients.
So ask yourself, what is your why?
And as for the PPS community, until this taboo is gone and all doctors are on the path to financial freedom, I promise that we will keep sharing our why and the subsequent how’s that follow!
As a matter of fact, with your why in tow, here are some helpful how’s for your journey to physician financial well-being!
- How Much Is Enough Retirement Savings?
- The 7 Step Basic Formula for Wealth as a Physician
- Physician Side Gigs to Make You Passive Money
- Stress Free Stock Market Investing Is Easier Than It Seems!
You can also watch Jordan’s Masterclass Webinar on The 12 Steps to Financial Freedom for Physicians here!
What do you think? What is your why in medicine? How about your why for physician financial well-being? Have the how’s followed? Let me know in the comments below!