Attitude Of Gratitude - Transformation Of My LifeMar 16, 2023
This was it. I finally finished my medical training. Four years of medical school, 3 years of residency and 3 years of fellowship. I made it. I was on top of the world, finally became the attending physician in hematology and oncology. I was ready to help and serve my patients, the way I wanted. So I thought.
Not long after I started my very first job in a group practice, I found myself seeing on average 25 patients a day, and I was working as if I was still a fellow – except that I did not have an attending to sign off my orders or my progress notes.
Although my last patient was supposed to end at 4 pm, most days I stayed behind to write my notes, call back patients, review labs and other results. There was a constant pull from two different directions within me: the obligation to finish my work and the desire to spend time with my family. My so-called compromise was to rush home around 7-7:30 pm to see my kids for a brief period before I tugged them into bed. Then more patient charting resumed. By the time I was done, I collapsed in my bed from exhaustion. Several hours later, another day of a similar scene reenacted.
It seemed as if I was just going through the motions. It did not feel like living at all. I certainly did not sign up for this. My dream was to help patients throughout their disease processes, not to be a documentation machine. I was running empty. I was overwhelmed. I felt stuck because there did not seem to be another way. Moving out of state was not a consideration because of family. Part-time was not an option. Quitting was not an option because of financial reasons.
So I kept going. Frustrated and angry. I sometimes wished my parents did not send me away to America. Life had to go on – at least my family’s life. I persevered. I did my best. At one point I did not even want to get together with my friends because of how miserable I was. No one outside of medicine would truly understand the hardship I went through.
The thought of quitting my job came up many times but I did not think that was a good option.
Then the pandemic came. It has changed many lives globally and its tremendous impact is still affecting us. The pandemic also changed my life in an unexpected way. During the first wave of the pandemic, I was seeing about one third of the number of patients a day. It felt amazing to be able to go home on time without having to continue to work after hours or the weekends. Would it not be wonderful if I could always go home on time with my clinical duties completed?
An opportunity came just at the right time. Since I actually had time for myself, besides starting to bake, I was introduced to life coaching. Clueless and curious, I went on to find out more about what coaching was. It seemed to make sense to me. Simple concepts of how our mind or our thoughts determine our feelings, and how we all act on our emotions. I decided to do something to feel better. Anything that could potentially help me. I could not be in a worse position. So I took the leap of faith and joined a physician coaching program.
That was one of the best decisions I made in my life. I did not even realize I was beyond burned out. I had nothing left to give. I was just existing and going through the motions. Since the biggest source of my misery came from the endless hours of charting, and that I believed charting after hours was the only way, I worked with my coach to tackle that.
My beliefs were challenged. I learned to heighten my sense of self-awareness. There were so many thoughts in my mind which I was not even aware of. I learned to harness my positive energy and keep my end goal in mind throughout the day. I learned to celebrate my wins, any wins, big or small.
Within 3 months of coaching, I was able to consistently cut down my charting time. Since then, I have been going home by 5-5:30 pm with no work left to do at home. It has been amazing! I feel more alive and I get to be more present with my family.
As life coaching has helped me not only to be more efficient at work, but also be more positive in other aspects of life, I became a certified life coach myself. My new mission is to share with other physicians what I learned and applied in real life to feel better and to have more control.
While my most common emotions were frustration, overwhelmed and sadness, my most common emotions these days are gratitude, content and love. The biggest transformation for me is not saving 10 hours a week of work (although that is incredible), but it is the self care, the self compassion, the self love and self worth that I have come to know. You are worth it no matter what.
I am enjoying medicine again. I am enjoying life again. Even though I am doing more work – still a full-time clinical attending and founder of my physician coaching company – I feel like I am working less than before. Most importantly, I enjoy doing what I do.
My offer to fellow physicians is that it is possible. It is possible to gain your life back. It is possible to feel better. It is possible to have more clarity and purpose. As part of my gratitude, I am here to serve you.
Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?