Change for physicians: eating the elephant one spoon at a time

1030-14safariAs a physician who has been through multiple personal and professional changes, I have learned to tackle the immensity of big change just like the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant? One spoon at a time.” 

Even now, as uncertainty swirls in the air with a wildly bucking stock market, talk of slow recovery from the recession, and the ever-looming challenge and uncertainty of healthcare reform, I recognize my own business needs to adapt to circumstances and to undergo yet more change. So, rather than sitting by idly with my fingers crossed and hoping for the best, I am scanning the horizon for new opportunities…
What is happening to your dreams of change, as a physician?
Are you having to shelve your idea to expand your medical practice? Or say no to remodeling your medical practice office space? Or put your physician career change on hold?
If so, you may be feeling kinda blue about life at present.

What could you, would you do right away, if you allowed yourself to make just one small change that represented the direction you would like to be going?
Here are some thoughts to juice up your imagination:
  • Have an early evening pizza party for a couple of hours in the office and invite the employees to each come up with one small change in the medical practice that would improve their lives and that preferably they could institute. Vote on the best idea and give a $25 gift card for the winner.
  • Do some Internet research on the “next career” that interests you most (allow yourself a little fantasy here!) and then reach out, through LinkedIn or some other network, to initiate a conversation — even if it is just to learn more about that person and his or her work
  • Scour a few flea markets, with a budget limit set in advance, for some fun or interesting items to decorate your patient waiting room, after that fresh coat of paint (an inexpensive quick facelift)
  • Brainstorm ways to boost your income with an extra gig – a nursing home medical director, some expert witness work, a part-time hospice medical director, a reputable weight loss program your patients would benefit from
  • Find a medical staff or hospital committee to serve on that aligns with your interests and offers a leadership experience – Medical Ethics, Medical Information Technology, Process Improvement, Lean Six Sigma change, Quality Initiatives in your department etc.
And if all else fails, take responsibility for adding joy back to your days by getting involved in activities and areas that have nothing to do with medical practice or your physician career — enjoy pot lucks at your religious institution, get next year’s neighborhood July 4th party going, help out at a food bank on Thanksgiving, volunteer in your kid’s classroom…
As we know from all the happiness research literature, our happiness is not tied to our income levels or our professions. It is most correlated with discovering and living a life of purpose, surrounded by family and community, and contributing in some way!
What small change can you make, to begin eating your elephant?

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