So many thoughts running through my head when I come home from a conference organized for a group of medical entrepreneurs. Some of these thoughts are to keep my little, fledgling medical practice running smoother, reach more people (and serve them better), and always remember my why. It revolves around making These are the “business mastermind” skills I signed up to learn at the conference. But in the long run I might have gotten something worth more. I also wondered why I left my previous job, and how to navigate this incredibly challenging path of becoming a medical practice manager “outside the system,” even at a disadvantage. I remembered why I kept walking.
I remember where I was a year ago. I was trapped in a system that literally sucked my soul out. I always felt bad about being late for work, skipped lunch trying to catch up, left the room feeling like I wasn’t giving my patients enough service, missed family time, and felt defeated. I felt tired and worked all day long. Most importantly, I didn’t have the option to promise anything truly different.
We who become doctors have a clear, predetermined path to becoming a doctor. It’s been years of service to patients, the community, science, and society through pre-med classes, medical school, and residency (possibly followed by a fellowship). Educating future generations of health professionals. Along this pathway, exposure to alternative pathways is rare, if at all. Many of us are not interested in the medical business and choose to work for larger organizations (academic or non-academic) because we want to focus on patient care and academic activities. More importantly, even if you want to be a manager, you don’t know how to become one. With large hospital systems buying out smaller clinics and the insurance system making it increasingly difficult for small private practices to survive, we are being led more than ever down the path of direct hire. I’m here. We doctors are taught to depend on the organization for a living, no matter how often we are taken advantage of, undervalued, and even emotionally abused by upper management.
Many of us feel trapped in this system. We didn’t learn business skills in medical school, nor did we learn other ways to put a medical degree to good use during training. Sure, there are physician-owned organizations and private practices that care for physicians (and thus patients) better than larger organizations, but they are becoming scarce by the day. When you join a typical private practice, you run the risk of returning to the same situation you were in when you left. We are staying where we are because we feel there is no other viable option.
A little over a year ago I was like this. I came home from work one evening to find my children already in bed, my husband standing at the sink cleaning up the dinner I didn’t eat, and myself in this system that served me nothing. I remember breaking down in tears because I felt so helpless. for my patients.
It was refreshing to be with a group of people (like me) who are afraid to go out alone but still try their best. These wonderful doctors are strong and brave, and often fight an uphill battle against large medical organizations, insurance companies, and the negative stereotypes that try to bring us down. Some have left the medical field entirely and have found other avenues of service, but (like me) have remained within the scope of medicine, but in a more sustainable way, not only as a doctor, but as a human being. , some are finding ways to practice medicine differently. (And, dare I say it, provide patients with better care than they could within a broken system).
I was reminded that I have every right to be as happy as the next person. This includes practicing medicine the way I feel right and being the mother, spouse, daughter, sister and friend I want to be. When I belonged to this system, there was a culture that “making numbers” was more important than anything else. Because I was working long hours even though my salary was being cut, my work was getting more and more monotonous, and I was feeling burnout every day. . I am so proud and honored to be part of a group of medical entrepreneurs who work incredibly well together. Rather than competing or fighting for money, truly supporting each other, each of us with our own unique experiences, skills, and resources to empower, advise, and help others in the group around us.
If you are a physician who feels stuck, beaten, exhausted, and without a way out, know that you are not alone. There are other options, and with the right people’s support, you can be successful. You may also find ways to improve your current situation. Yes, I’m scared. Yes it is not easy. Yes, there may be some things you need to sacrifice (at least temporarily) to make that happen. But it’s worth it. you are worth it. I have a wonderful gift for you.
You probably never feel like it’s the “right” time to take the leap. It’s good for you, it’s good for the patient, and it’s good for health care.
Cindy Rubin is a pediatrician and expert in breastfeeding medicine.