Feeling Trapped

Are you highly independent….headstrong even? And yet you feel helpless to change your life circumstances? This is a common issue with physicians. It all starts back in medical school. You figure out very quickly that you don’t know enough. This is reinforced by instructors. You are told how hard it will be to learn what you need to learn, how difficult the testing will be. You are told what medicine looks like, what you can do and what you can’t do. And you begin to internalize the message that you are helpless to change the system, helpless to have power over your own life.

Terry was an oncologist who had made it through medical school at the top of his class. Residency was hard, but he made it through okay. He was hungry. He was exhausted, but he made it. Years later he found himself in a practice with partners he didn’t really respect. He dreaded going to work everyday and found himself feeling smaller and smaller and smaller.

One particular day when the office manager was giving him a hard time, he snapped. He said some things he shouldn’t have and then an hour or so later, refused to see a patient who didn’t have insurance. It wasn’t surprising that the next say he was called into the administrator’s office and read the riot act for being abusive. He couldn’t believe it! That now he was accused of the very behaviors he said he would never participate in was unthinkable. What had happened to him? He began to feel depressed, anxious. He decided it was time to reach out for help… and yet he knew it was situational. He never had problems with depression or anxiety before medical school, before he opened his group practice. A few days later, Terry decided he had had enough. He was listening to a book on tape as he drove into the office and in a moment of perfect clarity, he realized that the life he was living was not the life he wanted. That the way he was practicing medicine was not okay!

He walked into the office with great determination. He set up a meeting for noon with his partners and he sat down with them in an uncompromising and assertive way, declaring that he was cutting his hours, going to part-time. No one pushed back. He was shocked! He went home early and told his wife. They celebrated. Now he was finally going to be home more. He was finally going to be present.

Change can begin today. It can be as simple and straightforward and laser focused as Terry’s. Please don’t wait for external circumstances to dictate your future. Don’t wait for that large malpractice suit to take you out of medicine. Don’t wait for your husband or wife to leave you, or for your depression to become so severe that you stand on the very edge of the abyss. Decide today that you are choosing freedom. That you are choosing to backtrack, to go back to that original dream. To change your life circumstances to such a degree, to feel empowered, to feel humble, to feel hopeful. That is what we are offering you here.

Headstrong and Helpless from Sydney Ashland on Vimeo.

About ashlandsyd

Business Coach for Medical Professionals

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