If You Hate Practicing Medicine, Please Quit

As physicians, when we continually work and give of ourselves from a place of obligation and burnout,  we will never be our best. We may even actually be our worst. That’s not fair to ourselves, and frankly, it’s not fair to our patients, colleagues, families, or anyone else who receives a second-rate version of us because we refuse to acknowledge our own unhappiness.  

If you hate practicing medicine, I would implore you to stop practicing.

Don’t go another day dreading doing your work.

Instead, I challenge you to use your medical expertise, knowledge and experience in ways that energize you and allow you to keep on giving. That was the whole point of years dedicated to learning, right? To train you to do the work you would love.

So, I call BS on staying in medicine in a very rigid way. Because, there really is no “right” path. Sure, there are evidence-based, best practices and guidelines but we all have a different style, mojo, groove in which we practice.

I also call BS to the nay-sayers that criticize colleagues as “wasting medical training and resources” to make career moves to be more fulfilled and happy. We are all ever evolving and just because what suited you in your 20s, does not mean it continues to make sense for you in your 50s. Life changes. You change. Your career changes. We are all a work-in-progress.

And speaking of work, you worked way too freaking hard to get through and to this point in your careers to grind yourselves to dust and take on the weight of the world as if it was all yours. 

These jobs we’re clasping onto as if it were the end of the world, they will still be there if we decide we need to practice medicine differently. They’ll be there if we leave for a bit, then choose to go back to them with our spirits refreshed and refilled. They will be there for other doctors who are better positioned to do that job. 

You are not the job. 

There are other options out there, friend! It’s hard and scary to do something different than what we’ve always done. But it’s harder to see yourself fall apart by trying to live up to do joyless work full of unrealistic expectations. 
So take that step.

Stop doing the work you hate, start leaning into your happiness now.

PS: If enough physicians do it together, there’s no stopping us. The culture of medicine will change and I say, it must. Let’s love our work again together.

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Errin Weisman DO

Errin Weisman, DO is the self-proclaimed wellness guru on Authentic Medicine. She is a life coach, podcaster and fierce advocate for wellness in medicine. She faced professional burnout early in her career and speaks openly about her story in order to help others, particularly female physicians and working moms, know they are not alone. Dr. Weisman wholeheartedly believes to be a healer, you must first fill your own cup. She lives and practices life coaching and medicine in rural Southwestern Indiana, loves her roles as farmer’s wife, athlete and mother of three.You can find out more about Dr. Weisman on her podcast Doctor Me First, her website truthrxs.com or hang out with her on social media @truthrxs. Her podcast is “Doctor Me First”. 

  5 comments for “If You Hate Practicing Medicine, Please Quit

  1. arf
    June 3, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    “wasting medical training and resources” to bully doctors into continued practice when they would sooner retire or do something else………

    I’ve been around long enough to remember old mossback types using the “wasting medical training and resources” line to justify not admitting women to medical school.

    As you would pick up your diploma and just go off to have babies and all that……..

  2. arthur gindin
    June 3, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    I retired when I was 63 as a neurosurgeon. After 4 hours doing a “Cloward,” I had “total body pain.”

  3. L. J. Sloss, M.D.
    June 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    I retired at age 77, but not because I was getting old. The practice was slowly withering because no hospital-affiliated physician was allowed to refer out, and because the payments from third parties were below sustainable (and somewhere between one third and one half of what institutional providers received for the same coding (and lower quality.)) I stayed on for two years running in the red because I really loved my patients and my profession, and because I wanted my patients to be transitioned in the best available way. I still get a few phone calls, free of charge.

    Unfortunately, the practice of medicine has withered and some extent died, with the effectiveness of medical care held up by improvements in science and technology as energy, intelligence and commitment recede. To some extent, this is viable in a highly regulated and automated and forcibly by-the-book world, where non-MD “providers” can chug along by the rules without feeling that they are wasting their lives. I would describe my mood as pissed off but cheerful; my colleagues still in the practice of what’s left of medicine in the world controlled by hands-off chiefs and grossly overpaid executives are mostly depressed and just trudging along until they can retire.

  4. Steve O'
    June 3, 2020 at 8:58 am

    For the cheerful and serene, self-confident and skilled in other areas, good show! For the rest, see Robin Symon’s First Do No Harm, there is the eight-second drop to the NYU med school parking lot, then no more suffering. Watch it.

    • Pat
      June 3, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      “…in other areas…”

      That’s the key, and some of us have (foolishly) played ourselves past that opportunity.

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