Your Finances And Your Career Satisfaction
Doctors are becoming more and more dissatisfied with their career. Most of us didn’t choose a medical career for income and prestige. Sure, we knew there was income stability and respect for what we were setting out to become but nobody here can easily convince me that pre-med’s dedicated 11-16 years of education for respect/income alone.
For primary care doctors the increasing number of patients they have to see per day, the decreasing amount of time they have available to spend with their patient and the ever-increasing level of bureaucracy is burning them out faster than new incoming primary care doctors.
However, there are still ways to find some satisfaction in practicing medicine. Some will practice overseas, some will work only in under-served areas and others will find boutique style medical offices which allow much more time per patient. Many docs would love to practice a certain way, perhaps a mix of eastern and western medicine or incorporating some exercise/diet within their office.
This latter group would benefit greatly from opening up their own clinic/urgent care or joining up with a similar practice. The average doctor however has lost sight of their expenses and even their income over the years. There are many reasons for this, which I like to explore in future posts. In brief, making $2,000/mo and having rent, food and education expenses is fairly easy to keep track of when you are in college. Once you add a mortgage, disability insurance, fees taken out for your IRA account and bonuses that come in at random, estimated taxes etc it’s unbelievably easy to feel overwhelmed, confused and to no longer care to keep track.
Working Too Much Without Keeping Track Of The Bottom Line
Doctors fall into the trap of just working a lot. Because it’s far easier to work a lot and ensure a steady high income stream than it is to sit there and tediously and painstakingly go through all expenses, all fees, all interest rates etc.
Think about the average household expenses:
- home repair costs
- gardener/pool guy
- home owner’s insurance
- medical license fees
- malpractice insurance
- disability insurance
- life insurance
- cell phone fees
- home internet/cable/landline
- car payments
- car insurance
- car maintenance/registration
- gym/hobbies expenses
- IRS taxes, property taxes, business taxes
- random fees, late payments, penalties, IRS audits
I just got a little nauseated listing all this. Okay, so you got the above on the expense side and you have the following on the income side:
- employment income
- business income
- spouse income
Naturally, it’s far easier to focus on the latter category and just shut down when it comes to the former. And yet it’s the former that matters. I’ve said it before, a person making $1 million a year can be dead broke if they are spending $1.1 million every year. A person making $80,000 a year would be filthy rich in no time if they are only spending $18,000 per year.
Try Starting Over – This Time Doing Things Intentionally
If you are happy spending a lot and earning a lot and chasing one with the other then you must have some gene mutation that I’m unaware of or just sadistic. Or you may be in denial and purely (naturally) overwhelmed. The solution sometimes is to start all over, fresh and clean. Move to a new location, sell everything, get rid of all insurances/accounts and only keep the things you NEED and get rid of everything you obtained because you WANTED it or THOUGHT you needed it.
In time, you will develop a savings account. You will see your investments grow and you will have an emergency fund and you will see your investments generating passive income. Soon you will be less dependent on your employment income. And this is where the magic happens… back to the title of this post, job satisfaction.
You can now open your own medical office. Maybe hire one MA who will cost you $15/hr in less than 1,000 sq ft of space with very basic equipment. With your overhead so low your income needs to be very small and whatever money you don’t generate with your business in the first few years you can earn with a few per diem shifts a month.
Or you may join with other medical groups, those that still believe in patient and doctor time, in prevention and maintaining health rather than making a killing off of medicare refresh diagnosis. Once you are no longer searching for the highest paying job many new doors open up.
It’s Hard To Believe But Such A Utopia Exists
You may not believe me when I say this because this may feel so strange to you. But every once in a while, as part of your morning routine, imagine yourself debt free, living a simple life, with an affordable home, walking/biking distance to work, with enough money saved that you could work 1 day a week and still afford your lifestyle… believe me, when you are in a such a situation even the angriest, most passive aggressive patient will seem like a child crying that you pass by on a morning walk.
How have you found your ‘job satisfaction’?
Are you planning on making any changes to your current work situation to perhaps create more satisfaction?