It’s time for physicians to bring clarity to their lives

I meet doctors in different arenas.  I meet them in clinical settings, at conferences, and by referral. I am noticing a trend. We are keenly aware of what we do not want in medicine. We talk about physician burnout and the impact it has on doctors’ lives.  We know first hand the effect the EMR has on the doctor-patient relationship as doctors spend less and less time in direct patient care activities.  And we are learning how to navigate the medical terrain differently to incorporate work-life balance.

I ask doctors another question.  What do you want for your life and career?  What is your vision for yourself?  That’s when doctors are unclear, uncertain, and vague.

How has this happened? As medical students, residents, and attending physicians, we are high achieving peak performers.  When it comes to other areas of our life, we are less purposeful and allow things to show up by default.

I think it has happened because we’ve spent four years of medical school then another three or more years in training focused on acquiring the medical knowledge and skills to become a doctor.  As attending physicians, we focus on patient care, patient outcomes, and the business of medicine.  The climate in medicine has left physicians out of the conversation.  It is easy for doctors to fall into this same pattern of focusing on everything else besides us.

It’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to bring clarity to our lives and careers so that we stop moving from position to position trying to get it right and instead become deliberate at creating our vision.

Here is an exercise that clients find beneficial to get started. You’ll need two sheets of paper for this exercise.  On the first sheet, write out those things that you do not want to experience in your career.  Once you have completed that list, put it aside.

It is time to shift the focus to your desires for your career and life. On the second sheet of paper, write out what you do want to experience in your life and medical career.  Be very specific.  Here are some question prompts to get you started:

  • Who are your patients?
  • Do they arrive promptly for their appointments?
  • Are they satisfied when they complete their visit with you?
  • How do you want to feel when you complete your visit with your patients and walk out of the exam room?
  • What about your staff and team? How do they support your success?

You get the idea.

Continue to add to this list and explore other areas of your life that can positively impact your career.

Creation of your vision begins in your mind. As you complete the exercise, suspend doubt.

Once you’ve completed the second list, go on a treasure hunt. Using the second list as the treasure map, search your life and career for the items on the list.  You might be surprised to discover that many of the items on the second list are already present in your life and career.

Stephanie Wellington is a physician and can be reached at Nurturing MDs.

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