Dan’s patients loved him. And Dan loved his patients. But his career? That he no longer loved.
“Dr. Dan,” as his patients called him, had been a general practitioner for nearly 15 years. His professional practice was healthy, but his enthusiasm for his work was rapidly waning.
At first, Dan told himself he just needed a vacation. And so he and his family took a two-week trip to Fiji, and Dan came back feeling revitalized. But to his chagrin, he didn’t feel any more inspired about getting back to work. Then, Dan told himself he just needed to recommit to his practice, so he did. Sincerely. But after a few weeks, this, too, failed to do the trick.
“Is it just me?”
Dan wasn’t exactly comfortable owning up to his dissatisfaction with his work. After all, he was good at what he did; he truly cared for his patients, made an extremely comfortable living, and recently received a “Best General Practitioner” award from his local community. What would people think, he wondered, if they knew he’d lost his spark for his profession? And Dan also wondered to himself, “Is it just me? Am I the only one who feels this way?”
Dan sat down and did a Google search for “percentage of physicians who are satisfied with their careers.” What he found shocked him, and it turned out he wasn’t alone—not by a longshot.
A Surprising Discovery
One of the first Google hits that Dan clicked on was a 2014 article in Money Magazine with the headline, 5 High Paying Jobs That Will Make You Miserable. (Dan was hardly miserable, but the headline hooked his interest.)
The article opened with a headline discussing the memoir of Sandeep Jauhar, titled, Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician. In it, the cardiologist contended that doctors, “once the proud, well-paid, contented pillars of communities around the country,” are extremely unhappy with accelerating trends in medicine, causing many to regret going into the profession.
Reading the article, Dan couldn’t help but admit to himself that it was comforting to know that, no, it wasn’t just him. But, Dan told himself, the article was seven years old. Maybe more recent research would reveal a reversal of these trends in doctors’ attitudes about their profession and careers?
Things Begin Adding Up
After nearly three hours of research, Dan had his answer. No, even the most current statistics showed the trend was not reversing. It was increasing, and there were well-documented reasons why. Dan learned that as many as half of all physicians were dissatisfied with their careers for the following reasons.
- Declining work/life balance
- Undue third-party interference
- Declining ability to practice independently
- The compensation is not high enough
- Not enough variety to remain engaging
- Dwindling profit margins
- Regrets about not pursuing a career in a different profession
All of this got Dan thinking. Ever the pragmatist, Dan took stock of the reasons for physician dissatisfaction and those he could personally relate to. Two of them really struck a chord with Dan: third-party interference and questions about whether he’d chosen the right profession. (When Dan got really honest with himself, he had to admit he sometimes wondered what his life would be like if he’d pursued a career in architectural history—a subject he remained passionate about.)
When Dan put this last puzzle piece together, suddenly, everything added up. Dan had his diagnosis—or more precisely, a dual diagnosis, something he thought of as Third-Party Fatigue Syndrome and What If? Syndrome. Now, the question was, could he form an effective treatment plan for his career dissatisfaction?
The Treatment Plan—and a Cure
Dan knew he had to do for himself what he was so good at doing for his patients: finding a cure for what ailed them. As Dan thought about how insurance carriers were sucking the joy out of his practice, and how part of him wished he’d pursued a career in architectural history (“What if?”), something suddenly occurred to him. Maybe, he thought, he could revitalize his practice by reducing the number of patient interactions that tied back to third-party insurers and adding an element of what made him so passionate about historic architecture: aesthetics.
“What if,” indeed. This question had taken on a whole new life that might, Dan thought, hold the answer. After chewing on the question for several days, the answer suddenly became obvious: He could expand his practice to include aesthetic medicine, which he’d recently read was booming.
This would kill two birds with one stone. First, because aesthetic services are elective procedures, it would automatically reduce the amount of Dan’s engagement with insurance companies. Second, it would allow his work to include an aesthetic dimension that would also add variety to a career that had become overly routinized. Moreover, he could easily and quickly become certified with aesthetic training to safely, effectively, and artfully practice aesthetic medicine. With some strategic planning, a sound marketing plan, and little luck, he could successfully roll out his new service offerings in as little as three months.
Six months later, Dan’s aesthetic practice was thriving. His patients loved him, he loved his patients, and he loved his career. Even though aesthetics only made up a portion of Dan’s daily workload, it was enough to revitalize his entire practice.
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A happier, healthier practice is in your future.
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