Although the field of medicine is one of the most rewarding out there, it can lead to burnout and lack of satisfaction for many physicians. We are all familiar with the endless cycle of patient visits, phone calls, and paperwork. Add to that the issues with insurance companies, authorizations, and fighting on behalf of your patients. It can all be draining.
Even though you are making a difference in the lives of your patients, you may find yourself wanting more. You may be pushed to switch things up a bit in your career, but have no idea where to go or what to do. Realizing that medicine is only a part of who you are is the first step in thinking outside of the box. You are so much more than the white coat and stethoscope, and sometimes you just need a little encouragement and direction to remember this.
My ventures outside the box
Mommy & Me Consulting. Since my first breastfeeding experience with my oldest daughter back in 2005, I have had a profound interest in breastfeeding. I was lucky enough to be a part of a Pediatric Residency Program that emphasized the importance of breastfeeding. Rotating through our Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic was one of the highlights of my residency experience. As a Pediatrician, I have been able to pass on what I learned to mothers in the early newborn period, which we all know is a critical time when it comes to breastfeeding. I am sure that my role as a supporter and encourager during this time made a difference for the families I served, but I know I was only scratching the surface.
My husband knows how much I love breastfeeding and he urged me to become certified as a lactation consultant last year. Since then, I have been able to meet the needs of my patients and their families more deeply by offering virtual and in-home breastfeeding consultations. Instead of simply giving suggestions on breastfeeding, I can set aside more time than I would normally have in a 15-minute well-baby visit, and provide hands-on instruction. Being able to help mothers successfully breastfeed for a year or more is probably one of the most rewarding things I have done in my nine-year career so far as a Pediatrician.
Crafty Doc. Besides breastfeeding, I have always had an interest in making things. I have loved arts and crafts since I was a kid, and have passed this love on to my children, too. Whether it is with my hands or my Cricut machine – I love to start with a blank pallet and create personalized projects.
Again, my husband had the bright idea that I create a design and crafting business as an extension of his t-shirt printing business. Through this new project, I have been able to let my creative juices flow, by creating designs and products that my customers love – including clothing, tote bags, drinkware, puzzles, and a long list of others. I am serving people in a different way than I am used to, plus doing something that I enjoy every day. It never feels like work.
Wifey Mommy Doc. Lastly, back in 2019, I started writing over at Wifey Mommy Doc, my blog for working wives and mothers. The purpose of the blog was to initially hold myself accountable as I developed routines and systems to streamline my own home. I needed the motivation to stay consistent with my own goals, to be more efficient, and to get some order in my life. It eventually developed into a community of women that I now educate, support, and inspire regularly. I provide a weekly newsletter with my tips and lessons learned, regular blog posts, and digital products to help working wives and moms find more balance for themselves.
Benefits of thinking outside the box
Set your hours. I am currently employed by a private practice as a Pediatrician. I have to show up on my scheduled four days a week, from 8 am-5 pm. I have to request vacation time and do not have much control over my daily patient schedule. If you are a physician, you can probably relate. But, with my side businesses, I can set my schedule and hours. There may be times of the year where I will work extra hard if I am pushing towards a particular goal and have more time on my hands. But, there are other times where I can put the businesses to the side or on hold if I need to focus on something else.
Do something you love. When you pursue your passion and can make a business out of it, you no longer feel like you are “working”. You can make money doing something you enjoy, which is a win-win situation. Plus, working on something outside of the field of medicine can be a huge stress-reliever when you are no longer dealing with insurance companies and the like.
Financial flexibility. Having a side business allows you to make an income on top of your regular income. This way, you can save for a vacation, a new home, or maybe just that new purse you have been eyeing. Having a disposable income can be a nice security net for your family and allow you to do things you would not be able to do with just your regular income. You may even be able to gradually cut back on your hours at your “day job” as you make more money on the side.
How to start thinking outside of the box
- Make a list of all of your interests, hobbies, and passions.
- Think of ways you can make money in those areas and write it down. (Be creative!)
- Find out how to officially establish yourself as a business in your county, city, and state.
- Just do it!
Medicine will always be my love and passion. But finding these alternative sources of income, and being able to make money doing things I enjoy has made such a difference in my life. I am less stressed about my “day job” because I know I have multiple backup plans. Plus, I can impact the people and families I serve every day outside the field of medicine. I also love the challenge of finding more ways to expand my reach in each business.
I hope you, similarly, are encouraged to pursue your passions while making money at the same time!
Petra McEwan, MD, FAAP, IBCLC, is a practicing Pediatrician and Lactation Consultant in South Florida, where she lives with her husband and five kids. She is also a Women in White Coats Fellow. On her website, https://www.wifeymommydoc.com, she helps working wives and moms balance their many roles. She can be followed on Instagram and Facebook @wifeymommydoc.