How I became the doctor I am today
About 10 years ago, I quit my job as a doctor.
In the days leading up to this decision, one of my patients asked me during a routine visit, “Are you angry about something?” Her question caused me to pause and reflect on how I had gotten to the point where my patients were asking me about my emotional state.
As it turns out, I was burned out. I was not taking care of myself to the point that I was happy and healthy enough to take care of my patients to the level they deserved from me. And, I wasn’t sure that I could.
So I quit. I moved to Florida intending to be a stay-at-home dad and find my next career path. As it turns out, this was the best decision I could have made for myself, my family and my patients.
The decision to quit lifted a huge weight from my shoulders, allowing me to focus on how I could best serve others. During this period, I had a sort of reawakening that connected me back to my calling to practice medicine, but with a new approach. My family, my patients and I have never been happier or healthier.
People may be surprised to hear that doctors suffer from burnout, no different than other high-stress, relationship-rich professions do. Yet, recent studies show that doctors’ burnout rates are on the rise.
Doctors are often expected to leave their personal lives in the hall before entering an exam room. Yet, a critical part of what we do every day is connect with our patients on a personal level. We are personally invested in our patients’ success. This requires us to be acutely aware of how our own emotional, spiritual and physical health impacts our practice and our patients.
I am grateful to that patient whose question 10 years ago launched me on my own quest for better health and wellness. Had I not quit medicine, I wouldn’t be the doctor I am today.