10 Questions With: Author Daniel Paull MD

I appreciate any doctor that has taken a less traditional approach to their career in medicine. Daniel Paull MD wrote the book So You Got Into Medical School… Now What? If it was a shitty book I wouldn’t bother, but Dan’s book is one of the best I’ve seen on the topic, actually the only How To manual for getting through medical school. I enjoy his writing style, how well the book is organized, and of course the amount of really good information he is able to relay. Read my review of the book for more, but for now let’s barrage Dan with 10 questions.

How did you get the inspiration to write a book?

I don’t think there are many who would disagree with the fact that medical school is tough. But like all things, once you get used to it, it isn’t quite so bad. The problem is the getting used to it. Many students (including myself) had to basically figure everything out from scratch. How should I prepare for class? How should I study after class? What should I really be focusing on? As I progressed through my first year, I made mistakes like everyone else. Mistakes that I could have avoided if I only had a guide… That was my motivation for writing this book, I felt there were people in need like myself, and that there wasn’t a good comprehensive guidebook out there.

What did you like the most about the project and what did you like the least?

Actually writing the book and seeing it materialize from an idea to a real object was probably my favorite part. I also found writing it somewhat cathartic. Every medical student should have some means of catharsis. My least favorite part was probably going through all the gritty editing detail. Painful, but completely necessary.

How do you define success?

I believe success is measured in happiness.

How is your background unique or different than the average doctor in medicine?

People come from all sort of interesting backgrounds that end up in medicine. I definitely wasn’t the most interesting among my medical school class, but I do think that what makes me somewhat different is that I majored in physics. Maybe it just makes me extra nerdy.

Do you have someone that pushes you towards your goals or helps you through the tough times in your life?

I was your typical lazy 13 year old. I did alright in school. I loved to play video games. I was an indoor kid. That all changed shortly after I turned 14. I had a bad skiing accident that left me with two broken legs and a broken arm. I found myself completely debilitated, unable to walk. I learned that the only way out of there was through hard work at physical therapy and dedication to my home exercises. With time and effort, I recovered. I’ve always been the one to push myself the hardest. When times get tough, I try to just power through it. However, I would argue that everyone has a breaking point, and we all reach it at some point. In those times, when the path forward gets muddy, I find solace in talking things out with my Dad.

Do you have any future projects that you are thinking about?

The only thing I’m working on right now is getting through my orthopedic residency!

I write about financial independence and early retirement. Do you plan to retire early from medicine?

I currently don’t have any plans for early retirement. First I’ve got to get through residency, and then see how I feel after practicing for a couple of decades. I do really like orthopedics, and I’m not so keen on just sitting around, so I don’t think I’ll want to retire early. If I feel like it, I may at some point tone down my volume and stop taking call, but I think I’d always like to work in some respect.

What are your plans for your student loans? Seems that plenty of docs are coming out with $500k and I would expect them to still have that debt well into their 50’s.

There is no doubt that student debt is a huge financial burden. Even if you have a lot of debt, I think the best way to get out of it is to live within your means. A lot of doctors feel very entitled. Some have the feeling that doctors should have a huge house, drive nice cars, only eat at nice restaurants, and send their kids to the best private schools that money can buy. I think that some may even go into medicine for those reasons. Before they know it, they are working extra to pay for the things that they can’t really afford. If you can divorce yourself from these entitlements and desires, you will help avoid becoming a slave to your possessions. Why work for an eternity to support a giant mansion?

What are your 3 favorite books?

The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov

The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card

If you didn’t do medicine what else could/would you do in order to make a living?

I come from a family of engineers. It’s in my blood. So If I had never slammed my fourteen year old body into a tree while skiing, I would probably be sitting at a desk somewhere as an engineer.

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