Eki Shola MD – Musician and telemedicine practitioner
Q: What prompted you towards changing physician careers or evolving your role?
I realized that during my medical training I had placed many of my interests such as composing music and writing, on hold. After working as an internist within a multi-specialty group for 6 years, I realized that I needed to have increased flexibility so that I could re-engage with my other passions. Writing and producing my debut album, Final Beginning (released 8/20/16) while working full time included many all-nighters. I was using my vacation time to fly back and forth to Seattle to do studio work and at the same time was producing two music videos. It was a challenge and I started to think how could I make this lifestyle sustainable. When I started to book performance gigs in the Bay Area, I realized I needed to have more work schedule autonomy and that prompted me to research other medical career pathways.
Q: What steps did you take to make these changes happen?
I realized that nobody would tell me to embark on this journey of discovery and thus I needed to make the leap and jump in to create the kind of professional and personal life I wanted. I read many books and blogs that covered topics on career change, spirituality, musicianship, and writing which all helped me to gain the courage to think outside the box career-wise.
I remember discovering that my health insurance plan included telemedicine care and I started to research companies that were offering this service. Thus far, conducting telemedicine visits has allowed me to practice medicine within a flexible setting. Always one who enjoys trying new jobs, I love how this new freedom has allowed me to explore more. I’ve done locum tenens work and have written medical articles for healthcare related blogs.
Q: What has brought you the greatest joy in changing physician careers?
I still consider myself a clinical physician since I am still diagnosing and treating patients via a telemedicine service – it’s just that my work settings are no longer limited to the traditional primary care environment. That’s the great thing about the medical field – there are so many options. I continue to enjoy having one-to-one interactions with patients without the cumbersome nature of office paperwork.
As for non-clinical roles, there’s nothing more healing for me than playing the piano and writing new songs for hours on end. I knew I wanted to reach and help more people than one person at a time in a medical office, and creating music and sharing it with others has allowed me to do so on a whole different level. I’ve played piano since the age of 5, and my musical journey transitioned into a zone of healing arising from a place of despair after experiencing the loss of my mother in 2012. I composed music because my soul depended on its therapeutic nature. A magical transformation of grief to hope slowly occurred as musical notes lifted my spirits and inspired me to live life. An artistic journey that combines electronica, soul jazz, classical and soul resulted in the composition of my debut album, “Final Beginning”. “Final Beginning” is a story about life after death. Beginnings are always occurring especially if our hearts are open and we chose to follow our dreams.
I’ve worked hard as an independent artist and am proud to say that Final Beginning has had significant radio airplay and placement on several charts since its release. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to perform at a variety of venues including bookstores, healing events, restaurants, healthcare conferences, festivals, music stores, a homeless shelter and this is just the start. One of my goals is to tour internationally and collaborate more with other musicians and artists to create a multi-sensory listening experience.
I also enjoy blogging on my website, www.ekishola.com, and am in the process of writing a memoir and a pre-med guide book for underrepresented minorities. There’s not too much down time these days as my husband and I recently opened a restaurant featuring Caribbean food and delicious scratch made ice-cream. With all the above and raising our two young children, I’m learning to accept a certain level of imbalance. However, it is truly gratifying that my husband and I are following our respective dreams, hoping that our children will understand and appreciate that as they mature, so that they too one day can do the same.
Q: What if any regrets do you have about changing physician careers?
There is security with a full-time benefits position that is comforting. However, that guarantee can become limiting and even stifling. I knew deep down that if I wanted to follow my dreams of becoming a professional musician and a writer, I knew I would need to take a risk.
Reading Ann Kreamer’s “Risk/Reward: Why Intelligent Leaps and Daring Choices Are the Best Career Moves” (A) was the impetus I needed. Tama Kieve’s “This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You Love” (A) was also a motivating read that helped me to accept that it was okay to fulfill my other passions outside of medicine.
Becoming a physician was an aspiration I have had since the age of 5. The only difference now is that I have many more aspirations outside of medicine. The challenge is how to balance them all. Following one’s dreams is incredibly uplifting and fulfilling and I have no regrets whatsoever.
Q: What is the one success secret you have for changing physician careers successfully?
I remember reading the advice about talking to other physicians who are going through a similar transition, but I really didn’t know anyone. I think it’s still a little taboo to announce to your peers that you’re leaving medicine or practicing in a non-traditional form, and that inhibited me from reaching out to others until I had finalized the decision for myself. A few peers and colleagues who were dissatisfied with their own medical career propelled me even more to pause, listen to my inner desires, and focus on reaching my dreams.
There are resources out there to help physicians with this transition such as the comprehensive services you offer, which is great because sometimes embarking down this path can be quite isolating and confusing at times.
The one success secret has been my personal mantra of do the things you fear the most; listen to your heart; and don’t give up!
Thank you so much, Dr. Eki Shola, for sharing your story of how you have been evolving rather than simply changing physician careers!