Today I’ll depart from my usual post and instead ask you to download the What’s Up Next podcast, hosted by Doc G and Paul David Thompson. Episode #17 tackles the very pertinent question of whether physicians should pursue Financial Independence (FI), and explores the implications of their doing so, such as: Do physicians violate an unwritten social contract if they opt out of working once they’ve reached FI?
I was the chaff on a panel of wheat (highly respected bloggers and equally fascinating interviewers) who cut to the heart of some issues near and dear to my heart and your wallet. Let’s meet the cast:
A charmingly urbane guy, Doc G is a pensive doctor with an artist’s soul. I met him at FinCon18 and recognized in him a workaholic attempting to transform a lifetime spent hustling into a life of equally industrious leisure. His idea of rest? Posting daily on his blog, DiverseFI, and starting a podcast with no prior experience. Either of these endeavors constitutes an incredible amount of work, and Doc G makes them seem effortless and even stylish. His path out of medicine has been via incremental reductions. He’s currently “only” director of a hospice care system, which many physicians would consider a full-time gig.
An engineer turned real estate mogul/podcaster/blogger from Arkansas, Paul is a man of substance. He has impeccable manners and a genteel accent that I associate with prior military service or a loving but stern mother who insisted her kids make their beds daily. I found myself sipping a drink with Paul by the inflatable pink flamingo at FinCon18, and in the way that nerds at summer camp meeting for the first time tend to do, we sized each other up and dove deep pretty quickly. I left the conference wishing we’d had more opportunities to continue our conversation exploring our respective values, so it was a pleasure to once again crossing paths with his formidable intellect.
(To clarify, he’s not the same guy who directed Magnolia – that’s Paul Thomas Anderson. The three names thing threw me off, although since I loved that movie the error would have worked in his favor.)
SHS is the pitch perfect voice of gallows humor in medicine. His writing captures the essential absurd aspects of our job, and whether you take knowing pleasure (as I did) or offense at posts with titles like What Your Allergy List Says About You, you can’t help but acknowledge that you’ve treated these patients and stifled these thoughts. SHS is unapologetic about his drive to earn more in new and unconventional ways, which appeals to a full spectrum of docs from unstoppable hustlers to those seeking an exit strategy from clinical medicine.
His thinking transcends our kinship as fellow ER docs and enters the realm of an Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn bromance – he breaks his arm, mine hurts too.
DMF is a shining example of what happens when you combine foresight, financial literacy, minimalism, and frugality: you live a Doc Hollywood lifestyle on a Doc Bollywood budget. A decade my junior, DMF has managed to avoid all the financial mine fields the rest of us immediately detonated on graduating residency while stacking the deck in favor of his financial success.
He lived like a resident. He worked like a madman up front, paying off his educational debt and front-loading his savings before cutting back to full time. If you want a template of how to succeed as a young attending in the current era of big educational debt, DMF is the role model you’ve been waiting for. Bonus: his photos of plant-based meals make me want to become a vegetarian.
Kevin Pho is the Neil Armstrong of doctors who colonized the internet space, planting his flag on the virtual moon when no one had shown up there yet. When I read Warren Buffett’s biography The Snowball, it coined a term – elephant bumping – meant to convey moments when persons of great power converged (It’s not a sexual term, dear reader, so you can stop being so ostentatiously uncomfortable – methinks thou doth protest too much). Kevin was an elephant among chihuahuas.
Kevin, I’m telling all my friends you were super impressed and invited us on your yacht to spend a weekend at your private island. It doesn’t matter that you remain insightful, down to earth and relatable in spite of your success – that will only detract from my anecdote of the many famous elephants I bump – something I do often and bigly.