My story began as a teenager in high school, wondering how to answer that powerful Wizard of Oz question that I heard over and over again... in the back of my mind…
What do I want to be when I grow up?
What do YOU want to be?
For me, the riddle was solved in a logical progression of elimination of alternatives.
I liked to learn and excelled at school. Check.
I was fascinated by the human body. Check.
I yearned for a career that I felt was significant, where I changed other people’s lives and was not unifocal about making money. Check.
I wanted to be solely responsible for my accomplishments and not tied to the success of my father. Check.
Back at the beginning of a new stage. Med School. AOA. Surgery. ENT. Clinical rotations. The Match.
Back at another beginning yet again. Internship.
Another beginning. Residency. Board Exams.
Another beginning. Fellowship.
Endless sacrifice as I continuously worked my hardest, succeeded and exceled, never slowing down my determination and pursuit of greater knowledge, skills and experience to climb the ladder toward more success to become the best physician I could be.
In the blink of an eye. My 20’s were gone and I was well into my 30s. Academia vs. Corporate employment vs. Private Practice.
I was the new doc in town. Trying to meet referring providers. Struggling to build a practice. Marketing. Hiring, firing, training, and managing my staff.
Then came all those letters.
EMR. HIPAA. MIPS. ACOs. HMO’s. IPAs. RVUs.
I landed in a box of increasing bureaucracy and decreasing value year after year and where my feet felt cemented for the rest of my career and life.
Did I ignore all those warnings?
Were they Red Flags?
My first year of medical school I began a course called ICM, Introduction to Clinical Medicine, where I spent a half a day away from med school lectures and labs to interact with patients for the first time in the hospital. I’d take histories and perform physical exams and began to feel like a real doctor! After 4 years of premed massive studying, I was excited to connect with patients and get my feet wet so to speak. The Attending Physician who supervised my group of 6 students was a 65-year-old pediatrician. I have never forgotten our first encounter.
He sat us all down and told us,
“Medicine is changing for the worse. HMOs are taking over and cutting our autonomy and pay. The future does not look good.”
He was a cynical unhappy guy, I thought. It would be different for me. He must be wrong. I can be better as I charged forward.
Over the years, I listened to more conversations than I can remember in the Doctors Dining Room about how physicians are getting screwed, losing money, taking more risk, getting paid less and working harder. Insurance reimbursement rates are dropping year after year. Expenses including Electronic Medical Records, malpractice, staff payroll, equipment, supplies, and rent are going up year after year. More government requirements, more data collection and more insurance denials. Defensive medicine so I don’t get sued. On and on. But I told myself - I can do better.
Every time I left a meeting with the medical director of any IPA or hospital, I was reminded that medicine no longer cared about high quality care, loyal relationships or good results as much as it valued whoever would accomplish the medical care, surgery or service at the cheapest rate. I needed to figure out how to do it cheaper or they would find someone else who would. Never once in my meetings, did we discuss successes, how many people felt better, how many patients were cured of cancer, breathed better, could hear better, or lived better. Every meeting, I felt more devalued.
But I was still certain I could do better.
How was I color blind to all the red flags?
Those red flags are something that now causes me anger for not seeing the signs which said Do Not Enter. Wrong Way.
Like a bull, I was color blind.
Like a bull, I focused straight ahead and charged forward. Because I thought I could do better.
But what helped me do better was not working harder in medicine doing more of the same.
Instead, I ripped off the blinders and began to see the world outside of medicine and my tunnel vision.
I began facing my fear of risk and vulnerability, charging into the unknown outside of medicine, calling bullshit that I can only be a great doctor if I sacrifice everything else.
I have learned that I can choose differently from what everyone else around me chooses.
I CAN do better and WILL do better.
And I am still here.
I now know the question is no longer:
What do I want to be?
But instead, WHO do I want to be?
Who do YOU want to be?
BOOMM! shares many breakthroughs I have learned and how I still do this.
These include new concepts and strategies such as leverage, masterminding, horizontal income, visioning, vulnerability, collaboration, tax strategies, and becoming comfortable in discomfort. Each one of these concepts or strategies is explained with stories, strategies and exercises in the BOOMM 1.0 Course.
Check it out.
Learning and practicing these new skills as a doctor in my life has helped me change my life and future.
I want the same for you!
What red flags have you seen in medicine?
What have you done to thrive?
Who do YOU want to be?