Without further ado, I want to introduce Junaid to the show and let him kind of take the reins. So Junaid, thank you so much for being on the Physician Philosopher Podcast. I couldn’t be more excited for you to be here.
Thanks for inviting me, Jimmy. I’m super stoked to be here and glad that we’re having this conversation.
Why don’t you start off by just telling us a little bit about yourself. Your background, your family situation, education, that sort of stuff.
About Junaid Niazi
Yeah. So my name’s Junaid Niazi, I’m a father, husband, physician, life coach, and budding entrepreneur. I’m dual boarded in internal medicine and pediatrics, and practice as a primary care physician in the twin cities in Minnesota.
I met my wife here during residency and she does pediatric primary care. We have a spirited two and a half year old son and a sweet five month old daughter. And yes, she’s a bonafide pandemic baby.
I grew up kind of all over, but I usually tell folks I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, because that’s where I did high school. I went to Rice University in Houston, Texas for undergrad, where I studied history and did pre-med.
I stayed in Houston for med school at Baylor College of Medicine, as well as public health school at the University of Texas. And then after almost a decade in Texas, I decided to try something completely different and ventured to the cold, frigid north in Minnesota for my med peds residency.
After my four-year training, I started working at my current job where I see patients of all ages for all of their primary care needs. A small chunk of my FTE is carved out in a role called an ambulatory information services medical director, and basically I’m part of a team tasked with helping optimize the EMR for physician use and patient care.
Thoughts About Coaching
Do you think, is it mandatory for someone to have a humanities degree in order to become a coach? Because I was a philosophy major. You’re a history major. What’s up with that?
When I went to college, I really wanted to try something completely different and really stretch my brain in a different way. And the type of thinking you have to do, or the type of writing you have to do, the long papers and everything, I think it really helped shape me as a person and make me a better physician. So yeah, maybe it is a requirement to become a coach. I don’t know.
Yeah. I always tell people that ask me about that, I was a chemistry major because I had to be, and I was a philosophy major because I wanted to be a better human. And so I completely agree. It makes you think in an entirely different way, but it’s been so helpful on the journey.
So what made you decide to go into medicine?
Yeah. Well as a kid, it was really between medicine and paleontology and I really don’t want to scratch at rock all day. That didn’t sound too appealing, but really it was several things. It was a love of science, exposure to medicine.
Both my parents are physicians, the universality of medicine, being able to help people anywhere and everywhere. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid and my parents could always serve others wherever we moved. And that was super appealing.
I decided at a pretty young age that I wanted to be a doctor and that I was going to be a doctor. And it kind of became part of my identity even before I was a doctor. And when I reflect back on it, I think that was actually my first sort of thought work. I repeated something to myself so often that it had to actualize and become reality.
Yeah. So that’s actually a really interesting question because I feel like a lot of doctors actually struggle, because medicine becomes so much of their identity, that they have a hard time setting boundaries and letting it go and realizing that there are other things that identify them outside of medicine.
So because you identified so early on as a physician, as someone who’s going to be a doctor, how do you feel like that shaped your life now?
How Has Being a Physician Changed Your Life?
Well, interestingly, I think you make a fantastic point and I think I was really that way through college. And then through the process of training, when you start to realize you’re striving for this ideal to become a doctor and the way you want to practice medicine, and training to a degree, unfortunately beats some of that out of you.
And I think I was able to extract myself a little bit and realize there’s so many other facets to myself that I wanted to explore and interest that I wanted to do. And even through med school, right? Me and three of my med school buddies, we were the band, we played at every event in med school, after every set of exams. So between studying for exams and rehearsing a set, we were incredibly busy around the end of our blocks, but we always had these sort of other identities that we kind of nurtured.
I think I mentioned physicians the third or fourth thing when I introduced myself, and I really look at it that way. I think our generation is really focusing on our own humanity and putting that first and foremost. And I think that’s incredibly important for ourselves and for our ability to care for our patients moving forward.
Yeah, I think that’s really, really well said. And as you made this journey after you finished, you ended up looking for coaching yourself.
All About Coaching
So now you’ve coached clients already in the beta version of the alpha group coaching experience that’s coming out. You got into coaching, what’s your niche? I don’t ever know how to say that word, by the way?
So I provide wellness, financial, and career coaching for physicians. That may not sound like much of a niche or niche, but I think these three areas are so intimately tied together and truly in their overlap, physicians can find their freedom to live their lives on their own terms.
I think physicians understand that their wellness is tied to their financial well-being, given the special stressors that we face on that front, as well as our careers. So that is why I’ve selected that.
When you’re coaching business, not if, because we’re coaches, right? When your coaching business takes off, do you still plan on practicing medicine? What’s that going to look like someday five years from now?
Yes. I still love the core of what medicine is, and for me, that’s me and a patient trying to solve problems together. Coaching has helped me rediscover more joy in medicine. I’ve been less stressed despite the pandemic and all the stressors coming from that I’ve been way more okay even with running behind in clinic and not really blaming patients for keeping me from getting home, which is something I really struggled with.
And I didn’t realize that that was actually burnout. When you start blaming the people you’re supposed to be serving, that’s actually kind of a red flag and a warning. And I haven’t even necessarily coached on that specific topic with people, but just all the other mindset work I’ve done, the benefits. I mean, they’re tremendous.
Yeah. I think it’s a really powerful thing. And for burned out doctors, I think the turning point when they realize coaching has so much power is the first time that they realized that up until now, they have let other things in their life control how they feel and how they act. And the second that they realize that by doing that and deciding to get coaching and work on the thought work and change that mentality so that they can then reclaim the autonomy and power over their own life.
We’re bogged down by the same issues that everybody faces. And I don’t want that to be a barrier to people. I need to have figured out so much stuff to be in a place to be coached, or I need to be so lost and downtrodden, that’s the only time when I need coaching. None of that’s true. Any issue is really coachable.
And the difference is we have a framework for channeling those issues through and constantly working on them, reframing them, molding them, working on our thoughts to serve us better. And I had to learn this. I am still learning this. And other physicians can learn this too. And I truly believe they owe it to their patients, their families, and most importantly, themselves, to learn it, because this is how they’re going to find their own freedom and live the lives they were meant to live.
Okay. So if people are listening and they’re like, “Man, this guy sounds great. I want to get coaching from Junaid.” Where can they find out more information about you or about those opportunities?
The easiest place to find me is that my coaching website over at prosperouslifemd.com, that’s all one word. So P-R-O-S-P-E-R-O-U-S-L-I-F-E-M-D.com. There, people can learn more about me and my story, learn more about coaching and the model to which we subscribe. They can explore my blog and they can also book a free consult call with me. They can also contact me about anything else. I’m happy to answer any questions or point people towards resources or other coaches at any time.