This is right on time.
In the news, media and professional organizations, work-life balance and burnout is all the rage. I’m proud to introduce the 2nd volume of our work to you, released by my publishing company (Swiner Publishing Co.) which became a #1 Amazon best-seller this month: Thinking About Quitting Medicine, vol. 2!
It highlights the struggles that medical and dental providers go through in figuring out what they really want to be when they “grow up.” Don’t be turned away, though, because it’s not just for the medical field. It speaks to a broader issue of burnout that all of us can experience in life and work. Here’s an excerpt from our book, including our Intro and my Chapter about my personal life.
It feels so good to be back here!
Your response to Volume 1 was out of this world. From showing up to support our visionary physician authors across platforms to showing up at the book launches in Atlanta and Durham, you have let us know that we are tuning in to your frequency. You are Thinking About Quitting Medicine and you are ready to do more than bellyache about it. You yearn to feel alive and passionate and in love with each new day again. You long to feel that sense of pride after each task completed as it feels connected to your higher purpose.
You want that feeling of fulfillment that is spreading through the internet world, but you can’t seem to figure out how to manifest that in this life, this hospital, this clinic, this call room, this phone call, this procedure. Maybe you’re bogged down from the new EMR with each hospital administration change. Maybe you’re over the 18-year-old-sounding snarky insurance guy that you get to talk to before you work your way up the chain of command. It shouldn’t bother you as much as it does. It’s a little thing added on to so many other little things and it feels like death by a thousand cuts.
In numbing the stress of the day grind out you may have shut out your emotions and somewhere along the journey forgotten how to turn them back on.
This is the place where the culture and media will throw around phrases like imposter syndrome, emotional exhaustion, burnout, stress-induced executive dysfunction and roll out charts and checklists.
This is not that book. Our physicians dug deep and found the courage to tell their stories and serve as their contribution to the world. Sure, they may pepper the above phrases into their lives here and there, these phenomena are real and there is no denying the physician suicide crisis.
In this book we bring you a reminder that there are other ways to interpret your current situation with an eye on the possibilities. Each physician-author’s deeply moving vignette takes you through what they felt that led them to think about quitting medicine. In each journey, you’ll discover that despite fears similar to yours, setbacks, trials, and tribulations, they chose to continue to believe. They chose to continue to imagine and to walk in their purpose.
We welcome you to volume two. We invite you to join our authors on the Thinking About Quitting Medicine page where you can continue to build a deeper relationship with each of them. Come share your story with our docs so they can help you see what’s possible for you.
Thank you once again for your continued support.
Nicole and Mani
Voted 1 of 10 Best Doctors in NC in 2017, DocSwiner is a family physician, two-time best-selling author, blogger, speaker, wife and mother in Durham. She is also affectionately known as the Superwoman Complex expert and has written two best-selling books on the topic. She loves taking care of the family as a whole—from the cradle to the grave. Her interests include minority health, women’s health, self-care and entrepreneurship. She attended Duke University and went to medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. She’s lived in the Triangle (Durham, NC) since finishing residency at UNC-Chapel Hill and continues teaching as an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Family Medicine department. When she’s not treating patients at Durham Family Medicine, she’s speaking locally and nationally, blogging, teaching others to self-publish and spending time with her family. Her passion is making medicine “plain” to her patients, so that all people, from all walks of life, can understand how to take better care of themselves and their families. She often blogs, guest blogs and speaks locally and nationally on these and other topics. She is also available as an influencer and brand ambassador, as she’s previously represented SheBuysCars, Hyundai, prAna clothing, DurhamKnows HIV awareness and Scarlet Myth Cosmetics. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
S: 40-year-old (still) full-time doc, publisher, speaker & consultant, continuing to seek joy and balance in work, family and love.
O: Happy, yet not settling for contentment. Still working on “baby” weight five years later, but unashamedly enjoying good food and wine. All faculties secure and intact.
A: Superwoman (#nosuperwoman) in full effect
P: Has given up on the myth of work-life balance, and now will work on more work-life integration. Here’s how:
I turned 40 this year, thank God. Leading up to this milestone birthday, I wondered what kind of emotional and mental changes I’d experience. Nothing much changed, except for my tolerance and patience, a bit. I now know what I want out of life and work, and I’ll fight my hardest to achieve.
Today, as I write, on 7/23/18 at 4pm, two (a mother and daughter pair) of my most challenging patients “let me have it.” They’ve noticed that I’m no longer in clinic on Mondays and Fridays, and on days that I am here, I’ve included some telemedicine slots with my clinic appointments. The elderly mother is none-too-pleased, as she mentions that I should have “thought about that before I went to medical school, if you wanted to work less and take more time off.” Two or three years ago, this would have upset me at the thought that she felt I should let my career and patients control me and my happiness in this way. Today, I laughed to myself and to her middle –aged daughter, who looked at me apologetically and was horrified that her mother would talk to me in such a way. I patted the daughter’s knee and reassured her that I was ok with it, and just said I was “unbothered.” The truth is, I understand and understood where the mother is coming from—she’s used to the old fashioned doctor (and, the old fashioned me) that was at her every beckoning call, would freely work her into the schedule whenever she needed and drop all things to make her happy, even while she was being belligerent to me and the staff at times. The new practicing physician in me now knows that I’m worth more than that.
I’m not going to explain to every one of my patients (I will to some if asked in the right fashion) why I’m making the decision to cut back to three days a week in clinic and work from the home the other two; but I will explain to you. As I finish this chapter, sitting next to my co-founder, Mani, on a Friday morning, in DC at Busboys and Poets (a restaurant and bar I’ve always wanted to come to), I feel blessed. I’m trying to create a lifestyle and career in which I can work remotely. My kids are now in Kindergarten and second grade, and I’d love to be home more for them and go on some field trips. I’m loving the career consulting and publishing work I’ve been doing for the past three years, and I want to be more free to travel to speak and meet clients. The next step may be to become licensed in other states, so I’m able to do telemedicine visits even when I’m on the road. I think the options are endless.
So, my friends, don’t feel stuck. The road of out your rut or funk may be filled with obstacles, but it’s not impossible to traverse. If you need help—emotional, mental, financial, strategic—then don’t be afraid to reach out to mentors and experts. Create the work-life balance and integration that you desire.
Thinking About Quitting Medicine, vol. 2
Swiner Publishing Co., 2018