Fantasizing about leavingApr 08, 2019
2 years ago I started looking for a way to leave family practice. After 15 years as a full time family physician I was still the last doctor to leave at the end of the day, still doing charting and paperwork at home on weeknights and weekends, still getting multiple phone calls from my patients daily, still taking 6 weeks to get forms done. The constant feeling of unfinished business any time I sat on the couch or had time off.
What I did know, with no doubt, is that I am an awesome family physician and I love love love providing primary care to my patients and I really love being a family physician. But I was worn out, felt badgered and hopelessly out of control.
I started observing physician friends who had side gigs - within medicine or outside medicine. Even watched some leave medicine to do totally new careers. I am not sure I was envious but definitely curious.
I was certainly disappointed with my skills in time management and unpredictable finish times and never having that sense of accomplishment and or completion. Except those rare days, right before holidays, when I would stay at the clinic until midnight getting every piece of my inbox completely done.
However, my inbox was a magic pudding! By the time I get back from holidays or every time I try to empty it, it magically refills (with attitude too!).
I started looking for help, a coach a mentor, ways others survived in this career. I wanted to know how others survived this. How do you survive these demands. How do you predict your day. How do you stop interruptions.
I started attending Improvement Facilitator training days to see if this would help me be more efficient. Instead I felt like more of a disappointment as I wasn't managing my patient panel adequately. They had an ideal image of providing great family physician care such as: physicians getting today's work done today, having third next available appointment within 3-5 days, minimizing your patients seeing other providers to get improved continuity of care and reducing poor patient outcomes. These targets were so far out of my reach, it felt overwhelming to even consider how to do that.
I came across a physician who was offering life coaching to other physicians. I was intrigued. What was this life coaching? She was trained in helping physicians but she was offering short term targeted coaching for a specific here and now problem - such as preparing for a new job interview. I needed something much more intensive. This approach was not going to solve 15 years of bad habits!
I kept looking and there weren't any family physicians who are trained as a life coach to teach other family physicians how to solve these daily issues within our career. But I wanted and needed help.
I came across a podcast by Brooke Castillo of the life coach school. She said she could fix any problem. I listened and listened and then started the practice of self coaching and then onto certification to be a life coach. My initial motivation was purely selfish. I wanted my day improved. I wanted a cure for every part of my career that I feel could be better. I wanted to be home on time and have a predictable day. I wanted all my problems fixed. I wanted to stop being a disappointment in my own eyes.
I have worked very hard to address all the problem areas!
As family physicians we all have the same stresses - interruptions, inboxes, forms, access, scheduling, patients, staff, family commitments, time to complete exercise, what to eat, questioning our skills, making hundreds of decisions daily.
Sometimes it seems like leaving this career would make all our problems go away. Right? Nope, every career has problems and challenges.
I feel like I am a great family physician, I don't want to leave my patients, but I needed real solutions in order to stay.
This is where I am now, today. Happy in my choice to stay in family practice. I have my own back with regard to time management, self care, managing interruptions, eating better, exercising and getting time on time.
I am also a life coach to other family physicians who want a better life and who want to stay in this career.
We have the capacity to learn these skills and get the future we want!
Have an awesome week everyone