I Beat Physician Burnout—You Can, Too
If you’re a primary care physician or an internist on the brink of burnout, you may be considering quitting your practice altogether, retiring early or going into a different field of medicine. I was right where you are. At 46 my life was hell. I was a solo practicing internist with a 15-year career, and before I hit 50 was already burned out—literally, fried, fed up and fully disenfranchised.
I was living a life trapped on the treadmill of traditional practice, thanks to increasing regulations. I was working 16-hour days, seeing 25 patients for a rushed 10 minutes from as early as 6 am just to get them in, and scheduled the whole day through until 7 or 8 at night—no break for lunch, no time for catching up. I’d get home at 10 or 11 pm after putting out fires, looking at test results and dealing with the increasing amount of paperwork that was drowning me. I had to work all day Saturday and half of Sunday just to try and keep on top of things. I was mentally and physically exhausted and constantly stressed. I put on 30 pounds, felt lousy and had no quality of life.
Love Being a Physician Again
Now I do—after switching to a practice model that has completely turned my life around to love and enjoy being a primary care physician again—and having a more fulfilling family and financial life. I have my wife and kids to thank in a big way. I came home one night and told my wife that I was just so far beyond exhausted. She looked me in the eye and didn’t miss a beat: “You deserve to live.” She and my kids said, “We need you, something has to give.” They were right.
Before that moment, my gut response to fix things was to work harder, faster and start earlier. But this time I took action the very next day and started my due diligence looking at options. I explored selling my practice to one of three local hospital systems and, after meetings and reviews with them all, received three offers. Then a physician friend who’d joined an affiliate network called MDVIP that supports you in practicing personalized and preventive medicine said, “Look, you should check it out. It changed everything for me, and it could for you.”
He was right. I finished my due diligence on alternative practice models, including MDVIP, went through extensive analysis with the MDVIP team to be sure it was a viable move for my practice, and decided to join. It’s a big decision to change your practice model. I was scared when I decided to cut the cord from traditional practice and make the move. But it was the best decision I’ve made—for my practice, my patients, my family and myself.
Practice Wellness-Based Medicine
I have my life back, time with my family, I’m feeling healthier, I’m doing what I love - hiking, cycling, and cooking, and I even got a guitar. I spend on average at least half an hour with each patient. I can finally fully practice preventive medicine—and I’m loving my life again for the first time in years. I’m also fairly compensated for my years of training and experience.
If my former practicing life describes yours, here’s my prescription—physician to physician—to have a healthier and more satisfying practice that allows you to enjoy life: Pause the treadmill and make time to look at alternative models; explore your options that let you be the physician you always imagined you’d be. Take it from me, you will not regret it. It could change your life and the way you practice medicine in so many great ways—just as it did for me.