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The Physician Philosopher Podcast

TPP 32: Do You Feel Trapped, Stuck, or Burned Out in Medicine? Then Let’s Fix It.

Many physicians feel trapped in the current medical system.  A lot of doctors are feeling medical burnout, doctor burnout, or physician burnout, whatever term you prefer…but you don’t have to continue to feel this way!  The physician suicide epidemic needs to stop, and physicians need to stop feeling like they are broken because they are not!  The medical system is broken!  Today we talk about combatting physician burnout, physician suicide, why the healthcare system is broken, and how we can fix it! 

Larry Keller

Why is the Healthcare System Broken?

The medical system has been the same way for years and years, and most people think it needs to stay the same way, but just because it’s been that way, it doesn’t mean it has to be that way.  When you look it up, you will find that the average work week for a doctor is 38 hours.  This doesn’t sound that bad…until you realize that this doesn’t include the 15 hours each week that is spent charting.  This brings it closer to a 53-hour work week, and this is considered NORMAL full-time hours!  

Why is 40 hours a standard full-time work week outside of the medical community?  It was just decided that this is what full-time looks like and so it has never changed.  Does it really matter how many hours we work if we get the same amount of work done in a shorter amount of time?  Why are those who work quickly expected to work the same number of hours as those who work slower?  Netflix changed their policies about vacation time to reflect that employees can take as much time as they like as long as they get their work done…and it has worked out great!  So why are they the only ones?  The current policies and expectations of doctors can be changed!  You don’t have to stay stuck, and you are not alone in this!

I Am Not Broken…

I’m going to get personal because this is something I used to be scared and embarrassed to share, but not anymore!  I used to think my brain was broken.  I was different from other people, and I thought it was a bad thing.  I was passed up for a job… not once, but four times!  I thought it was because of personality flaws and deficits, and that I was broken!  I suffered from imposter syndrome and thought I wasn’t meant to be a doctor.  

The first time I told a professor that I have a reading disability, ADHD, and I was dyslexic he told me that I couldn’t hack it and I wasn’t meant to be a doctor.  He said I would fail, and I should choose a different path.  This hit me hard, and I constantly questioned my intelligence.  I couldn’t even read fast enough to get through my exams, let alone pass them.  I was embarrassed and I started believing him.

But then I realized that I am a problem solver.  I didn’t fail.  In fact, I graduated.  I went from being 106 of 119 students to graduating in the top ¼ of my class.  I got into clinical medicine and hit my stride.  I was student body president of the entire medical school, I became chief medical resident, published randomized control trials, won teaching awards, I had the top teaching evaluations, and I became a fantastic clinician!  I am not broken…I am just wired differently and needed to be put into the right situation to be successful.  It is time to set the trajectory for the future of physicians and know that thinking outside of the box does not imply that we are broken, or we cannot change the things around us.  

Master Your Thoughts & Think Outside of the Box

If you thought you can’t get out, that you are stuck, or that things will never change, you are one of many physicians who feel this way.  If everybody who feels this way masters their mindset, controls their thoughts about the medical system, and starts thinking outside of the box, we can change it!  Throughout the healthcare system there is a standard thought process and expectations of how things are supposed to be.  If we all continue to think down the same lines, we won’t be able to fix the problems that our healthcare system has.  We can’t use the same thinking to change a problem caused by that type of thinking.  

I am part of a generation of physicians who want to rise up and demand change.  But to do this, we need to think differently.  There are options and your mind is telling you there must be a better way.  Until we get out of the matrix and start realizing this isn’t how it has to be, you will continue to feel like you don’t fit, like you are stuck.  There are physicians like me who are entrepreneurs and take chances and risks. The obstacles in your path are not there to stop you, they are how we learn to get to the goal we are trying to reach.  

The new generation of physicians are finding ways to speak up.  I am not going to apologize any longer for being broken or pointing out the things that are broken in our medical system.  The new generation of physicians are those who refuse to accept the broken system and status quo.  But fixing this broken medical system will require different thinking.  You need to feel empowered to change.  You need to be mentally and financially stable and practice medicine because you want to, not because you have to.  

Are you willing to be a part of this new generation of fulfilled physicians who feel great practicing medicine, and do it because they love it?  I would love to hear from you.  You can send me a message on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.  You are not alone, you are not broken, and you don’t have to accept the broken medical system as it is.

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