6 April 2010, by tpotisk
Doctor‘s joy can mean many things, but without joy a doctor’s practice struggles almost mysteriously.
A doctor called me just recently with a common request – help! His was the story I’m all too familiar with; one that is repeated frequently throughout the doctoring world.
“I’ve attended most of the popular practice management seminars, read the books, feel confident in my technical skills, and work hard, but why am I not prospering?” he asked with a downward stare.
“How do you define ‘prosper’?“ I replied, going straight for the heart.
“I’ve been practicing for 16 years and still have nothing to show for it. I’m mired in debt, the patients don’t follow my instructions, I have trouble holding staff, and I don’t understand why all the practice production seems like a burden.” His eyes held tears.
“So your definition of success or prospering involves money and control?” I asked, setting my trap.
My job in helping was already in play. You see, the person with the problem has to question their former approach, realizing there is another path, and they have to be led to the realization.
“Listen doc, there’s a whole lot more to having success and prosperity than those things you’ve been pursuing. Why did you become a doctor?” I asked, leading him a bit deeper.
“Well, I always felt a calling to help people. And I like science, so I considered several fields and found I wanted to be a doctor” he recalled.
“And how did you feel when you made the decision?”
“Relieved and excited. It seemed like a huge challenge with the cost and time and all and ….”
“But why did you then proceed? You were aware of the challenge in time and money, yet you went forward, why?”
Hesitating nervously, he scratched his head and then said the magic words “I had a passion for it.”
Bingo-bango, he was now all mine. Bringing a doctor back to the original passion is the foundation of the ultimate fix for doctors who are struggling, frustrated, unfulfilled, and questioning their choice of career. For almost every doctor, the beginning had passion to some degree. They had to have it to overcome all the challenge looming ahead like mountains of student loans, years of studies, lost sleep, boring professors, and caffeine withdrawals.
This particular doctor was one of the easier repairs. Most docs show up asking for help with the thick skull that comes with the doctor diploma. The tougher ones get stuck on the myths like believing joy comes from a more expensive car, bigger house, thinner blonder wife, more marble lining their offices, or a staggering bank account. Even Jesus, the greatest healer ever known said that it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle.
Being blessed with material possessions is not a crime nor a sin if acquired ethically, and I don’t recommend giving up your monetary prosperity, but realize that neither it nor more of it will bring you joy.
So with this doc, we spent some time working on recalling and building upon that original passion he had for being a doctor. We then worked on injecting that passion into his day to day practice. That’s my specialty in helping doctors; I developed the process and wrote the book on it – Reclaim the Joy of Practice – An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors.
Funny thing happens when I help a doctor that way, finding and working with them on that missing link called joy, they prosper more than ever. All the challenges, frustrations, disappointments, and energy draining junk that comes with a practice seem to fade. They also find connected passions and gain more identity for themselves. They seem to look and act younger. It happened to me, that’s why I’m now known as “The down-to-earth” doctor. Take the time to watch small children and you’ll see what I mean about the joy we should aim for.
Recently, I interviewed a friend who has been consulting with doctors for nearly 30 years, helping them with the nuts and bolts of their practices. I asked him “What is the one thing doctors need to do to have more joy in their practices?”. Listen to what Ed Petty, from PM&A Practice Management had to say in this 2 minute interview below.
Hey doc, I did it – you’re next !