The Physician Philosopher Podcast

TPP 38: How This Physician Quit Their Job

“You are braver than you believe, smarter than you seem, and stronger than you think.” There is a lot that doctors can learn from that quote.  Yet, many doctors have something called learned helplessness that keeps them trapped in medicine.  

Larry Keller

In this episode, we will teach you how to take back the power and autonomy you need to live the life you deserve.


Today You’ll Learn

  • How learned helplessness traps doctors in medicine.
  • The roll autonomy plays in physician freedom
  • How to take back the power in your professional and personal life to stop sacrificing yourself, and to put yourself first.
  • And more!

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You are braver than you believe smarter than you seem and stronger than you think there's a lot that doctors can learn from that quote. Keep listening to learn how to take back the control in your life. This is the physician philosopher podcast. I'm Dr. Jimmy Turner, an anesthesiologist online entrepreneur and creator of the alpha coaching experience. The physician philosopher podcast teaches you how to create the life that you deserve. One thought at a time, start before you're ready. Start by starting start now.

Hey everyone. Welcome to episode number 38 of the physician philosopher podcast, where we take an uncurated unapologetic look into physician life, money and mindset. So today's thought is this doctors often feel trapped in medicine due to learn helplessness. The doctors have more choice than they realize. We just have to take the blindfold off. So I'm going to start with something philosophical today. This is the position philosophy podcast after all, and in Plato's allegory of the cave. I'm not sure if you're familiar with this, but it's this allegory where there are prisoners that are chained against a wall. They are facing a wall in front of them. Their head are fixed. Heads are fixed. They can't see anything, but what's in front of them. What they know is that they see shadows on the wall that they're forced to face. And as one of the prisoners gets freed, they realized that the shadowy figures on the wall, or because there's a fire behind them.

And then these other things and people dancing in front of the fire that caused the shadow. But until they realized that they just thought that the shadows on the wall were reality. That's what they recognize. That's what they experienced their entire life. And so that's what they learned to expect from realities. And they just needed to escape their shackles in order to see the truth. However, many of the prisoners decide that they don't want to be free, and they'd rather continue to see the world as they currently understand it. And in many ways, this is exactly how physicians are today. Some of us have found freedom and understand that we don't have to be trapped. That being trapped and feeling helpless as a choice, for example, one of our alpha clients, amazing guy recently quit his job because he realized that he wasn't helpless as he thought he was before coming into the program, that he had the power and control in his life to dictate his future.

And after working 80 hour weeks for a long period of time, 80 hours on average, which wasn't really sustainable for him or his family, he approached his boss about cutting his hours, going part-time to make life more sustainable. And you know what the boss said? He said, no, they couldn't afford that. And that they probably wouldn't be able to afford to hire another doc for another year or two or maybe three. And so at this point, most people who have learned to be helpless would fold and say, Oh man, they called my bluff. I guess I really am trapped in this job. And in medicine in this situation, not this doc. So shortly thereafter, after lots of coaching and alpha coaching experience, he stood up for his family and for himself and gave his notice that he would be leaving his job. And you know what?

This wasn't without risk. What was he going to do? It's a lot of money coming from that job as a high six figure paying job. Was it without risk? No, definitely not. Was it worth it? Yes. In fact, when he came home, one of his kids cried. His spouse said, this is the best present that you ever could have given me. It turned out that what they wanted, wasn't the money they wanted him. They wanted his time. And when he learned that he wasn't trapped and took that freedom and that step forward, he found this amazing place that he didn't know existed before he, when he realized that or before, when he thought he was helpless. Right? And so this isn't something that our alpha clients and this isn't something that our alpha clients, you know, have to work through alone. This is something that I've had to overcome in my own journey actually.

And so, you know, I used to constantly be, you know, worried about being too honest or too transparent or too open on this podcast. You know, one of my job, didn't like what I had to say, what would I do if I lost my job as a W2 employee, as Nancy's geologist, right. I remember the point when I made the decision that I wasn't going to take this anymore, that I was going to go part-time. And that if I was told that I had to choose between the physician philosopher and the work that we're doing here, and my W2 job as an anesthesiologist, as an employed physician, that I would quit my job and why. Well, the reason why is because I derive great satisfaction and fulfillment and joy from helping other doctors who feel trapped in medicine and helping these doctors find the freedom that they need to practice medicine.

However they want. I often say at this point that I feel like I do more good for medicine from a chair in my basement than I do. When I go to the hospital to take care of patients. Now don't get me wrong. That, that isn't to say that I don't love taking care of patients because I absolutely love taking care of patients. In fact, taking care of patients and providing the best care that we can is the reason that I do this so that physicians can learn to take care of themselves and fix what is broken for the generation that currently exists. And the generations of doctors will come behind us. And all of the patients that this and the next generation will take care of that the other patients that we will take care of. But I still remember that moment when I decided that this business was worth the risk of leaving that security blanket of a physician paycheck and edge physician job, it felt a bit like jumping off a cliff without a parachute.

And honestly,

Medicine does a really good job of making us feel trapped. Now, what do I mean by trapped physicians? Well, the way that I describe a trap position is a doctor who feels undervalued on heard unappreciated overworked, physicians who feel trapped. You know, maybe they've suggested changes that have gone ignored at work. Maybe they thought about going part-time or leaving medicine altogether, but they just can't seem to do it. They can't seem to pull the trigger. And this begs the question though, what is it really that makes physicians feel trapped? Maybe it's the electronic medical record system, right? Or insurance companies and administrators, or maybe it is the press Ganey in patient satisfaction, the patient metric scores that we all have to keep up with. What about pre-authorizations patients who get, you know, fit into your schedule when it's already double booked or any other number of things that we talk about all the time on this podcast?

The answer is no, all of these things are problems that need to get fixed, but they aren't what cause a physician to feel trapped in medicine and medicine, physicians are trapped by something called learned helplessness. Now I'm going to talk about this today and discuss multiple things that make you feel helpless, but are absolutely a choice. And tell you how you can find that freedom that you need to make the change that you know, deep down in your heart, you need to make a choice who might be willing to risk in order to be happy. Now, the term learned helplessness before we dive in, may be familiar to some of you it's it's recently become familiar to me in the last year or two, but if not basically learned helplessness is the idea that your mental state, whatever that is results from the belief that there is nothing you can do to control the outcome of your current situation. In other words, that you can't do anything to feel better. You're helpless as a physician. This might mean that your burnout or dissatisfaction or your moral injury, or due to a lack of control in medicine,

That medicine is the way that it is. And that there's nothing that you can do to challenge the status quo, to take back your power and to make a change that would actually make you happy. Like you feel like you can't accomplish any of that. You feel helpless or trapped in medicine. And that is exactly what I want to talk about on this episode. What is your happiness worth to you? What would you risk to be happy? What would you do to be able to spend your time? However you want, whatever way creates the most fulfillment satisfaction for you. That's that's what I want to dive into today. So let me ask you a question. Does your job treat you like a commodity? Do they treat you like one of the many providers? And in fact, let me just go out and say on record, I hate the word provider. You not a provider. You are a physician. In fact, I think if your employer uses the word provider or calls you a provider, and that is probably in and of itself, an indication that you are a commodity and what do I mean by commodity? Well, you know, a commodity is something that's easily bought and sold, right?

Something that really goes to the lowest bidder. It's something that's easily replaced. In other words, and all of us that Hazel talk all the time, you know, you're replaceable. In other words, your value isn't as high as you think it is. And being commodity for that reason, being a commodity is always bad. It's bad. As a physician, it's even bad as an online business owner. And think about it. If I just tell you that I am one of many physician coaches, they're just take your pick. We're all the same. What would you do? Well, you'd go find the least expensive coach you can possibly find to help you, but you'll never hear me talk like that. And the reason why is because I know that the alpha coaching experience is the only coaching program for physicians, where we teach you the three part framework of mastering your money, your mindset, and your ideal life.

So if you want to master those three things, this is the only program that exists with that framework that will teach you to do just that. So if you want to stop feeling like a physician who is trapped and find the personal and financial freedom, you need to practice medicine. However you want. If you want to practice medicine at all, if you want to make medicine optional, the alpha coaching experience is the only program that can do that for you. Do you see the difference there telling you that I'm just a coach who helps doctors? You're just gonna go and pick one of the coaches you can find probably for the least or lowest price that you can find them for, right? That's called being a commodity, but it's definitely not a commodity. And you aren't either. You aren't a commodity. You are uniquely talented individual with an infinite amount of worth.

What is not infinite. However, is your time. You only have so much time on this earth. Time is finite for every single one of us, right? And that is why it is time for you to stand up, to speak up, to speak out and to realize that you, yes, you deserve to be happy and fulfilled and to derive satisfaction and purpose in whatever way your heart feels as best as you can. And what you have to realize it isn't your mortgage. It's not the country club payment. It's not the private schooling for the kids or car payment that keeps you trapped in medicine. It's not the golden handcuffs. It isn't your student loans or the benefits package that you have at work or how close you are to your family. You're not trying capped by any of these things, being trapped as a choice, just like it as a choice, whether you want to do the required online modules that are out there, they're death by a thousand paper cuts or the committees, committees and meetings, or the choice to stay in that job that treats you like a commodity.

Those are all choices. I know it doesn't feel like it's a choice, but it is, it is 100% of choice. So it's time that we stop feeling helpless. You're not helpless. You are powerful and autonomous being. So don't let them have the power. Don't let them do it. You're not a victim. Take back your power, take back your, that is a choice. And in fact, it reminds me of a story that I read about Rubin hurricane Carter. Okay. And I read about this in Ryan holiday's book called the obstacles the way I'm a big fan of it. It's about stoicism, but he does a good job of explaining the ideas. And this is where the entire coaching model comes from, by the way, stoicism. So it's been neatly repackaged at the life coach school where I learned it, but it's stoicism. And as a philosophy major, I noticed that, but enough about stoicism.

So Ruben hurricane Carter, a famous boxer and was wrongly wrongfully convicted of murder. In fact, he was convicted convicted of a triple homicide that he didn't commit. And while he was in prison, he decided that he wasn't going to be a victim of his circumstances and made a commitment to himself that he would refuse to break or giveaway or grovel or despair or let anyone else determine how he felt and who he was. So, for example, these are some of the things that he did while he was in prison. He demanded that he wouldn't wear a prison uniform. He didn't try to shorten his prison sentence. He didn't eat prison food. And he told the guards that if they touched him without his permission, that they would get in a fight. Remember this is a famous boxer, right? Not someone you want to get in a fight with.

So while in prison, hurricane then spent every second of his time looking into his legal case and improving himself in any way that he could. And 19 years later, he walked out free. He got his guilty verdict overturned. And then after that, he acted like nothing ever happened. And you know why? Because he refused to give power and his autonomy to someone else. He recognized that that was a choice that while he cannot control his circumstances, who has his power and who has his autonomy is 100% a choice. So just like Reuben Carter, and just like the alpha client story I shared with you earlier about the doc who quit his job, you have a choice you're not helpless. And while you may not be able to change the system today, you can challenge the status quo and tell them what you will and won't do.

And if we can't get enough, if we can get enough physicians to find the personal and financial empowerment that we need to fight this fight, maybe then the system can change. We just need a bunch of Ruben, hurricane Carters out there who aren't willing to let medicine control them, but it is going to require you to realize that your learned helplessness is a choice. And yes, it is going to require you to take a risk. It's going to require you to make a change, to consider other alternatives. But let me ask you, how much is your happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction worth to you? How much would you risk to be happy?

That's what I want to leave you with. And by the way, the quote at the beginning of the show came from Winnie the Pooh. One of my favorite shows growing up, I actually had a, one of the poop like it for most of my life as a child. And I just submitted that on a public podcast. Sure. Story. And I want to leave you with another quote or, well, it's not, it's not really a quote, this, a rapper, a poem that I wrote about a year ago. Now I'm not going to wrap this because you don't want to hear me rap. So I'm just going to read it as a poem. And it's called the truth is, and I want to leave this with you because this is kind of where I'm at. This is where I was at a year ago. This is where I'm at now.

And I hope that you can find some power in knowing that you're not alone. And that this is a choice and that we can find the personal and financial freedom. We need to become empowered and to take the risks we need to be happy. Okay? The truth is the truth is those of us in the trenches, we don't have a say. And those in power are just trying to make it rain dollar bills with their golden cuffs and parachute in their ivory towers, chasing metrics in a suit, screaming from the burnout begging for a change that won't happen because our voice is out of range. The truth is I'm sick of getting trapped in other people's trappings. I used to care so much about what others thought was happening. I wanted some approval maybe, but now that doesn't matter. Promotions, tenure papers, it's all a bunch of chatter.

See, I want to be a good doctor, but I hate having to choose between being a good employee, a husband and dad too. The truth is burnout can consume every ounce of what we love. One less doctor, sister, mother, brother, father, to adore the system must change meditations in deep breathing. Don't fix the problem. The morally injured or left seeding. It's time that we stand up and demand what we deserve. We can no longer be quiet. We're starting to strike a nerve. The truth is the change can't happen until those in power. Hear us be the change you want to see. That's what they tell us. We write, we rap. We sing, we cry. It all goes unheard until there's another death in the night. Hard times and bad culture can change a man's mind, more apathy, less compassion. We're breaking our design. The truth is we don't have to be perfect.

We don't have every answer, but if the system doesn't change, it's going to grow like cancer too young to be noticed, but too loud to be ignored. They put the doctors in the corner and knock them down to the floor, burned out by the thousand. But who's keeping score. The truth is we are in our bank account until we can walk out the door today. I hope that, you know, you aren't powerless. You're not helpless. And that you do have a choice, the choice to find the personal and financial freedom that you need to live, the life that you deserve. So today's thought is this doctors often feel trapped in medicine due to learn helplessness, but doctors have more choice than they ever realize. We just have to take the blindfold off. That's the truth until next time my friends start before you're ready. Start by starting start now. I'll see you next week.




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