Do you believe that if you send out to the universe a question that it will provide you with answers?
It was the the fall of 2020.
It was the height of unrest in the US. When healthcare workers were declared heroes for working through the lockdown and then immediately vilified for insisting on patients to wear masks and other precautions to prevent the spread. So, you're caring for patients, and then adding the Covid component. You're educating them on precautions which some were not necessarily receptive to- (thankfully, most of my patients were); you're keeping abreast with the latest research so you can either confirm or dispel what patients hear on the news - would hydroxycholoroquine, ivermectin work? And then on top of that dealing with Covid deaths among your patient panel. Also fearing everyday you might yourself get Covid, with the exposure to patients. I remember the gearing up with a mask, face shield and gown to stick a swab up people's nasal passages. That was horrible. Both at the patient's and tester's experience. And on a personal level, I worried about my family. My sister undergoing cancer treatments on her own. My parents and brother were back home in the Philippines. I could not go visit them and be with them.
It was just so much at one time.
That even a well-adjusted, mostly unfazed, happy, and positive individual like me found it really hard to deal.
By this time, I've been a primary care physician for almost 15 years. It is a difficult job. My work day usually started at 8:30 am, ended at around 5pm; after which I'd be working on my inbox til about 7pm. I get home, have dinner with family and then most nights I'd be working on charts again at 10pm til midnight. And some mornings, when I'm really behind, I'd wake up and chart at 5 am and try to get to work at 8:30am.
There was a study that came out in 2022 that working alone, a primary care physician would need 26.7 hours in a day to care for their typical 2500 patient panel. Working in a team-based care, and in best team case scenarios that number went down to roughly 10 hours per day. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-022-07707-x
While I was grateful for our team-based care and excellent coworkers, the way I was working was not sustainable. I decided it was time for a pivot.
As the point of this series was how coaching influenced my journey, my biggest influence in the thought work is Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School. By the way, the physician coaches who most influenced me were trained by the Life Coach School. Sunny Smith (empoweringwomenphysicians.com), Bonnie Koo (thewealthymommd.com) and Sarah Smith (chartingcoach.co).
So I started listening to Brooke Castillo's podcast and I have been tuning in every week for a few months. There was a podcast that she released right around this time I was contemplating to leave my job.
As I have said, the universe provides you with what you ask of it.
She discusses, when you decide to leave - a job, a marriage a friendship or any relationship -- to find your own happiness before you leave. Initially it did not make sense. So I listened to it so many times. On my walks, on my way to work and doing my chores at home. My initial reaction was: well, if I found a way to be happy, why would I want to leave?
It took me a few listens, until I understood the assignment.
She says, most people leave a situation in a rush and leave a path of destruction. She suggests to slow down, and do it with love. Do it on your own terms and not because you were forced by circumstances. I was wanting to leave because I was burning out. While I couldn't of course singlehandedly change the US Healthcare system, there was one person I was in control of.
Me, my mind, my thoughts.
The biggest piece of my burnout was charting. And lo and behold - the universe again sends me an answer. Sarah Smith of chartingcoach.co asks in one of her facebook ads - are you ready to stop charting at night?? I was...
but I was skeptical. I have been behind in my charts for the whole duration of my career. But then, I realized that--
I can't keep doing what I'm doing and expect a different result.
Obviously what I was doing was NOT working. So I took the plunge and bought her course and attended her coaching calls every week. It was the best money I ever spent. After two weeks, I was coming home at 5:30pm with all of my notes done. My husband and son took note of it too, I was more rested and I was happier. It was such a shift, it was almost like magic. Along with the mindset coaching that I received, I also learned to hold space for the patient, to truly be present and listen. One of my frustration was not being able to "fix" everything for my patients. Taking it personally when they were still smoking, didn't lose the weight, didn't complete their physical therapy, insisted on their antibiotics and pain meds, chose not to get their flu shot, etc, etc. To hold space for the other person is to listen without judgment, to meet them where they are at, and to understand that they are doing the best they can with what they have. Give them the facts, the guidelines. What they do with it is their job, their choice. Your job is done at that point, your medical decision making is not compromised, but also you did not make it to mean anything about you. It is not personal. And that shift was absolutely freeing. If you're a physician and struggling with this - try it.
Within a few months, I had done the assignment of finding a way to be happy before I left. That way, I was leaving on my own terms and I was leaving with still so much love for the patients and the people I worked with.
And as far as real estate and other forms of investing goes -- all that I learned as part of this pivoting journey-- once I knew that my family's financial survival was no longer tied solely on a salary and trading time for money, my commute to work and my interaction with people around me were just so much pleasant and easier.
And when you put up positive energy and love into the universe, it will send you so much of it back.
An opportunity came from the same physician administrator who offered me my primary care position, Dr. Michael Robie https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-robie-do-mba-faafp-a7106414/. As I was at the time newly certified for obesity medicine, I got offered the position of medical director of obesity medicine in the same hospital system. Which, I possibly would have missed out on if I left in haste and frustration because of burnout.
It literally took a village.
And through all that was my husband's love and support. He is truly my biggest fan and best friend. I am now a happy, thriving physician, still practicing clinical medicine in a field that I love and most passionate about.
I am also now a certified life coach!
Changing people's health trajectory, people's lives one mindset shift at a time.
email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read part three here: https://www.thepivotingphysician.com/post/the-pivot-within-part-3