I chose to specialize in family medicine to be that navigator I had always wanted to be. And being a primary care doc, caring for the underserved, accompanying my patients on life's roller coster was really meaningful work. I delivered babies, watched them grow into amazing kids, wrote scholarship letters, helped people quit smoking, celebrated marriages, beating cancer, sobriety. It was incredible and joyful and it was also felt very heavy. At the time I thought it felt heavy because of the lives and struggles of my patients but also because of the brokenness of our healthcare system. Now I realize that I felt that way because I thought it was my job to, and I wanted to, offload their burdens, remind them and call them and be there for them in ways I didn't need to be. And as an optimistic, compassionate young doctor who did not yet know how to set healthy boundaries, I burned out really quickly.
Ironically, even though I had done a study on medical student burnout it took me 6 months to actually recognize the signs in myself. Thankfully, once I noticed I kicked into high gear and took massive action to change EVERYTHING. I channeled thoughts that served me much better, lined up 3 new part-time jobs because I realized I wanted more diversity, quit the job I burned out in, and found amazing work-life balance. Since then my wife Laura (also a family physician) and I have also had 2 kids and we've had to re-assess multiple times along the way.