The aptly named SEAK, Inc. (Skills, Education, Achievement, Knowledge) is a continuing education company that sends me annual brochures touting how physicians like me can make money outside of the clinical practice of medicine as we know it.
They are the ultimate purveyors of exit strategy, the mantra hidden between the lines of their pamphlet whispering, “Someday you will be too old for this shift.”
They hold out promise that when you can no longer stand your situation, they’ll show you how to cash out while still using your MD.
I’ve always found their catalog intriguing: business tips for the solo practitioner, primers on entering concierge medicine, and even creative fantasies for would-be artists (write and publish that book you’ve always wanted, secret author, we’ll introduce you to agents!).
I’m a fan of physicians who can write (especially those talented individuals who can also write about non-medical topics), and I’ve met a number of people in clinical or academic practice who would make supremely talented wordsmiths.
So is the next Ethan Kanin, Paul Kalanithi, Atul Gawande or Siddhartha Mukherjee currently dictating at the work station next to you in a rumpled white coat as he reluctantly admits a weak/dizzy patient? Could your medical disaffection be replaced with a passion career that pays the bills? Possible, but unlikely.
If you dissect the SEAK catalog, most of the proposed revenue streams suggest routes that get you out of overnight shifts and weekend call by replacing your clinical practice with (similarly dreary) alternative physician income streams: expert medical witness, independent medical examiner, worker’s compensation and disability cases. Personally, none of these options holds more appeal than financial independence, and most of them seem to involve exchanging one type of drudgery for another.
Bottom line: If you want to reclaim time as your most valuable asset, you need to save like a fiend, limit your spending, and invest the difference.
As a physician, your annual income gives you a tremendous unfair advantage over nearly all other comers.
The best way to avoid continuing the practice of medicine once you are burnt out is to reach financial independence.