From trapped to designing a life right for you

In medicine it can be so easy to feel stuck or trapped. The medical conveyor belt is fast and strong, once you hop on it can feel impossible to hop off.

A lot of medicine can feel “compulsory”. Instead of the mindset, I get to do this, it’s often “I have to xyz”.

Especially as a student and junior doc, we have rosters that often take up a lot of our lives and there’s a lot of sacrifice.

However, falling out of touch with our values and losing our autonomy can increase our risk of burnout and dissatisfaction.

This week we will share our conversation with a very special guest Catherine Nolan, an award-winning coach. Cath Nolan will speak about her journey and how we can design a life right for us. I’m very excited to share this episode with you all.

This has got me thinking. Why are physicians so often stuck in this trap? How can we all work to create a community of medics that are empowered and support each other?

Why do we get stuck on that conveyor belt?

Medicine is a highly competitive field. Being accepted into medical school is a big undertaking, we are compared to other applicants and only a few are selected. Once in medical school we are swiftly taken up into that conveyor belt to consultancy.

Besides being competitive, medicine is also very traditional and conservative. The story of Dr Geoff Toogood, the founder of crazysocks4docs, is a perfect example. He was teased for having different coloured socks at work, and that’s what ultimately led him to create crazysocks4docs.

In medical school, we are exposed to the usual paths and have little knowledge shared of doctors that have done things differently in their lives and careers.

Doc entrepreneurs, non-clinical jobs, creatives…it seems unheard of.

With everyone all around us and those to look up to on the conveyor belt of medicine, we all continue along. Even if it doesn’t feel very good. Doing something else seems impossible.

While in our jobs we can also feel robbed of all autonomy, especially as a junior doctor. The rosters can be unforgiving and we’re perpetually understaffed and overworked. We’re told it’s a privilege to be there, but working that 100th hour in the same week can feel exhausting. Maybe you sometimes wonder, is this it? Is this what I worked for?

Hopping off that conveyor belt

Sometimes we can be hard on ourselves and ask ourselves why aren’t I thriving like everyone else? Why do I seek for something different or something more?

There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not the only one.

The competitive nature of medicine means that physicians often hide their struggles. Unfortunately, there is still that false narrative that doctors need to be superhuman so not everyone feels safe to disclose how they really feel.

Putting up your hand and saying, “I want something else” can be difficult and the unknown can be very scary.

Yet, aren’t the possibilities exciting?

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Creating your own path

This weeks episode will be about finding your own unique path and reconnecting with your values.

What is important to you? What do you seek in your life?

I felt trapped as a junior doctor and burnt-out. I really had that victim mindset, feeling like my life what happening to me. Why was I so unhappy? Could I do anything about it? Yes, I could and I did. It’s a long process and I’m still not there yet, but after reading, listening to podcasts, exploring my options and having coaching I started to find the path right for me.

It feels great to be the creator and designer of my own life.

Some tips for getting started:

  • Look after your basic physical needs first, then you can work on the more complicated stuff
  • Take time to reflect on what matters to you – just you, not what your family or friends think
  • Learn to draw boundaries, even as a junior doc we can! Hear our latest episode with Dr Amy Imms on burnout and drawing boundaries as a junior doctor
  • Explore different options that draw your interest
  • Listen to other people’s stories and those that have done it before
  • Get a coach!
  • Know you’re a medical student or doctor! You’re hard-working, smart and can do anything you put your mind to

Leave a Reply