Career Lessons from Freddy Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody)

Have you watched Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie?  The story of Queen’s lead singer Freddy Mercury  is a powerful illustration of how a career can be shaped to achieve success. One thing  was clear: Freddy took charge of shaping his career.

Here are 3 career lessons  I learned from Freddy Mercury

Pursue your Passion. Freddy was relentless. He loved music and expressed the artist in him with his songs, costumes he wore and their album designs.

What are you passionate about? What do you want to keep doing that makes your heart sing and your eyes “twinkle” as one of my friends would say? Many say your passion is one that you want to do even if you do not get paid for it. Its not for the money. Its one that makes  good use of your gifts, your strengths and your talents. Think about it.

Do not be afraid to do things differently.  Freddy was different  and was not afraid to be so. He took a different path in his approach to his music. He redefined what  the audience would like. He refused to copy what is out there. He set the tone. He created his own.  Bohemian Rhapsody  was 6 minutes long with segments from different genre. It was way longer than the usual songs listened too. His producer told him people would not listen to a 6 minute long song. He persisted.

What is it about things that you would want done differently? What is stopping you? What is it that you want to challenge?

It takes a village to raise a child so with building your career. Freddy made the Queen what it is , but the Queen made Freddy who he is.  Building a career entails working with people. As shown in Freddy’s life, it is not always as rosy when it comes to relationships. But growth is only possible when you work well with others. Who are your enablers in the career you have chosen? How well are you working with them?

Movies mirror life to us.  It entertains us. It teaches us. It  reveal to us what we sometimes fail to see.

If you have seen the movie, what other lessons  did you learn from it?

Please share in the comments so we can learn from it too.


photo credits: By Source, Fair use,

How to Orient your Medical Secretary






My secretary of ten years recently left for abroad.  If you read my previous blog entry ( on who can make or break your practice, your secretary sure is one who can!  Ms. A  has been an efficient partner  in my practice.  She knows how I want things to be so I  can work at my best. She genuinely cares for my patients too. She is like my administrative boss who is able to handle all non medical aspects of the job.

So what do you do when your trusted help suddenly tells you she or he is leaving? I appreciate that Ms. A told me way ahead. She knew I had to find a suitable  replacement.  She knew also that whoever replaces her had to be trained.  Here are three things you can do to prepare for a similar situation:

  1. Identify the work your secretary does for you (its like a job description). I asked Ms. A  to write down everything she does for me  then I grouped them into general categories. These may include: documents to keep and maintain, payments to make on a regular basis, clinic operations procedures (for me, this includes how to take patient weight, height and vital signs, vaccine ordering and safekeeping, collecting from HMO etc), location  and contact persons of vital offices  etc.
  2. Write up in detail how each of the tasks are done. Make it like how any company would write its manual of operations. If you are just starting a clinic, you may need to write this yourself. But if you have been practicing and your current secretary are doing these things, just have her write it and revise as you see fit.
  3. If you have the opportunity, have your old secretary train the new one weeks before formally taking over. Run through the tasks with the new one yourself  to check if she got things right.

Avoid getting caught off guard! If you haven’t done this, now is the time.  If you are just starting, do it to be prepared.

Have you got other ways to prepare? Share  and write in the comments.


3 Lessons I Learned from The Greatest Showman Movie


Have you watched The Greatest Showman?  The movie is starring Hugh Jackman sans the metal in his arms. The story is inspired by the life of  Phineas Taylor Barnum who founded the  Barnum’s American Museum and Barnum and Bailey Circus. He eventually sold it  to the Ringling Brothers  who merged  their  own show with it and became known as the Greatest Show  on Earth.


While the movie may have some cinematic license when it comes to certain details, there were lessons to learn from the movie as presented.

     1. P.T. Barnum’s dreams came true because he was passionate.  He knows what he          wanted and he pursued it relentlessly.  He was adamant despite obstacles and                downfalls. He was fired by his purpose.  If you are a start up like him, the same              passion he had becomes a fuel to pursue your future and make it happen.

2. He knew his audience and delivered what they clamor for.  He knew people are               by  nature are curious and he gave them what they seek  for.  His show became             relevant  to his audience because they were answers to their natural curiosity.  If             you are a start up, it pays to know the customer and respond to their needs.


3. He tried his best to make a life not just a living.  He may not have realized it                    earlier, but certainly in the end, he knew its not just about making a living. In                   planning your start up, have your big picture to include a life that makes your heart         smile.

How about you, any more insights from the movie?

Plan a Life Not Just a Living

For as long as I can remember,  I know I have always wanted to be a doctor.

When I was in high school, I met  a family friend  who is an anesthesiologist. She is kind, warm, compassionate.  She attended to me when I had my first minor surgery before entering college.  She is  partly practicing and partly holding an administrative position. She was simple, pretty and elegant.

Mostly I was attracted to her demeanor. Warm, soft spoken but firm at the same time. She reassured me while going through the procedure. She seem to like what she is doing. She has a family  and spends a good amount of time with them.  I sensed a great mix of work and family life. I kept that in my mind through the years.

I want a life like that ,I told my young self.

I have kept that image  of  work life balance in my mind. Many years forward, I am a physician and had opportunities to do administrative and training work in my hospital.

Have I done it?  The balance?  I must admit not all the time.  But I found a good means to  find my way back  when it tips  off to one side.

I would like to teach you how.

Let me share  one story with you.   In one training session, I met Dr. A. She is a young fellow in her last year of training. We had an activity where they were asked to create images of their desired future.

How would life be 5 to 10 years from now?

How would each day of waking up look like?

Where am I ?

Who am I with?

What is my work place like?

How is my weekend?

Do I have a family? How are we?

Many questions. The answer to which had to be placed on a board with the most colorful and representative pictures we could find.

Then it was time to share. As she was called, I noticed she was teary eyed. The exercise was a revelation to her. Looking at her board, she saw that her ideal life was way off with the lifestyle of her chosen field. She wanted a predictable day time job that would allow her to do other things. No night calls. No emergencies.

She cried. I can sense regret and sadness.  She is on her last few days of training . Then I told her, “you know, your practice  can be as you define and design it”. She couldn’t get back the years she spent training for her field but she can practice in a way that could fit her desired ideal life.

I see her around these days. She is happy. Her practice is mostly ambulatory. She trained further in a subspecialty that makes it more of a day job. This field does not require night calls and is seldom an emergency.

Create your vision of life and work.  Keep it where you can see it. Make it a reminder to yourself each day you wake up.

.Why plan a practice when you can plan a life?

What’s your plan? Share yours.

Photo by Free from Pexels

Turning your Downtime to Gold


Funny but true, start up doctors make quirky comments like “nabasa ko na paulit ulit lahat ng magazine sa clinic or na memorize ko na lahat ng crack sa wall kakatitig” while waiting for patients to come.

While i think everyone who started a practice went through such an experience, we can make good use of downtime including no clinic days.

Here’s a few downtime ideas my friends and I did:

1. Review all your practice guidelines and emergency protocols and medications. If you’re up for specialty board exam, its study time!

2. Learn a skill to produce a product you can sell. Bake cookies. Awaken your crafty self. I sold chocolates i made after attending a chocolate making class. This gave me extra income when the patients came in trickles. My friend turned to baking.

3. Refine and develop a skill you can use in the future. Earlier in my practice, i decided to take a 7 trimester Master’s program. The class is once a week. On a Saturday ( yup, of all days! ) . If you are a pediatrician,you know Saturday is a big day for us! Since the class ends at 4, i managed to have clinic for 2 hours after school! It can be an online certification for you or a short course.

How about you? What do you do during downtime?

photo credit: ambro/

A Letter to My Young Start Up Doctor Self

ID-10070921To my dear  start up doctor  self,



Hey! Excited? I hope this letter finds you a few moments away from wrapping up your training. In a few weeks you set out to start your practice.


I am your future self and let me tell you something: you did well.

You have a practice that you want and you have a life you enjoy. Lets not get ahead much. That’s not why i am writing you.


I am writing to share a few things i learned along the way.



Keep your passion alive.


Ours is a caring profession. Passion is the fuel that can sustain it. Our years of training tell us its no easy job. There will be difficult cases and this time you are on your own. You are the attending. You will make crucial decisions together  with your patient. You will be tired and challenged. Find comfort that you have been trained well for this. That there is a great resource out there for you including friends, mentors and colleagues. Bathe your efforts in prayers.


Build relationships.


Thats what patients are looking for. Be their friend. Confidant. Ally. Patients want to know first if you care enough.


Just aim to help.


If you do this, pleasing patients will be effortless. This can be tricky though. Ask  how you maybe of help. Listen to,  not just hear what they are saying.  Match your patient’s needs.  They may need you to understand what ails them and how to recover or improve their condition. But they may want you to understand and address concerns beyond the disease.


Continue to invest on yourself.


You are more than a doctor. Do not bury the gifts you have been given. Rediscover them. Learn new things. They will come in handy  many years into the future. You can be the  doctor who teaches,who bakes, who paints. You can be anybody.


Let your life purpose sustain you.


When patients come in trickles and income do not come as expected, remember what you are called to do. It will help you to keep going. I assure you , the money will come.


Time is an asset.


It has its value just like any currency. Be careful how you use it. Choose to spend each day doing things that leads to the fulfillment of your life purpose. Do not   be like  a fly that keeps on moving but not getting anywhere.


Mistakes have a silver lining.


Do not crucify yourself when you make one. Listen to what it is telling you. More often it can be your greatest teacher.


Choose your company.


Surround yourself with people who can  positively affect you and the world.


Preserve your integrity.


Let no company  or person buy or take it away from you.


Enjoy the journey my young self. Beyond the turns and twists is a life you have every opportunity to shape.

The best of years to come dear!



Your Future Self


photo credit:

Step Back, Look Forward


3 days, 1 place and 1 friend. And all the time in the world to slow down and step back. I call it my annual retreat. Not your typical reclusive , no talk type though. The most difficult part of doing this is commiting to the days that it should happen. Somehow it keeps on getting pushed back. There is always something that seems to be more important . I even needed someone to pin me down to do it.

Why do it in the first place?
If there are times you feel that you have too much on your plate and need to sort things out…
If you feel there is more that you can do, but can’t seem to find the starting point….
If you want to look into your varied roles and figure out how they align….
When you are about to take a big leap and you need to see the big picture …
When life gives you a second chance and you need to set things right….
When you are about to start a new phase and you want to set your sight on where the next chapter can take you…

Stepping back gives you that chance to look forward.

Here’s how to ” step back,look forward” my style:
1. Get a real big push to commit your days to do this (this seem to be the hardest step for me!).
2. Call a friend to be with you. Choosing the right friend is crucial. Someone who can listen when you think out loud. You don’t need answers when you do this. You just need someone to hear you out ( so you don’t look crazy talking all by yourself! Lol!) Talking out loud what’s going on in your mind may trigger further insights. My friend J is perfect !
3. Find a place that offers less distractions. Food should be readily available when you get hungry. Television or internet preferably not available.
4. Set your goal. Mine was to set my direction for the next 3 to 5 years. For some, it can be a long pressing question that needs a careful thought.
5. Write an exhaustive list of questions you want answered in relation to your set goal. Examples from my list includes:
At what age do I want to retire? What else do I like to do other than what I am doing now? What do others say I am good at? Who do I want to be with more often? How much do I need to keep the life I have now? What else do I need to provide for my family? Your list can be different but consider all aspects of your goal.
6. Ask what’s in it for you if your set goal is met. A stress free lifestyle perhaps. Happiness in pursuing a passion. More time with family. Financial rewards. List it down too! Doing this will excite you to pursue it relentlessly.
7. On the other hand, what can go wrong if you pursue your set goal? List it all down too. Don’t mince on this one. The more you think about this, the more you will be able to prepare for hurdles and challenges.
8. Identify things you can do now to set the ball rolling. How about those that you can do in a month? Within the next 3 to 6 months? Set the timeline based on the goal you have set.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, stepping back to do this is a good thing.

Residents or fellows who are about to end their training. Doctors on top of their career. Those experiencing a slump.

Here’s to making a life not just a living! Cheers!

Choosing Your Practice Site


Should  I go where everybody else is?


Here, I did some experimenting. Choosing a site for a practice can be a little tricky.  I was thinking whether following what  Jollibee or McDonalds does will work.  Almost predictably, once you see one of them in a particular site , you would see the other.


My prospect site for community practice is in a long stretch of main road that starts in one town and ends in another. I drove past the entire strip and counted how many pediatricians are in the area. I found a considerable number.  What I found interesting is that the site is located  in front of a village that spans a large area  covering over 10 phases.


My two other sites are  just few minutes away from each other. One is right smack in the business district and the other one a little off but adjacent to a hospital.


I noticed some patients prefer one site  over the other for varied reasons.

  • Parking issues
  • What side of the area they are coming from
  • Where there is less patient traffic
  • Less exposure to other patients
  • Time availability, theirs and mine
  • Faster elevator ride


I learned that choosing a practice site can be an interplay of many other things.

  • Consider your mobility preference.  You can be all over the place or be limited to a certain geographical location.
  • Factor in family life considerations like your child’s school or your spouse’s  office.
  •  Public transport and accessibility to patients maybe a consideration for stand alone and community practices.
  • Consider your type  of  patients. Climbing  a flight of stairs to get to your clinic is not a very patient friendly choice for the elderly or your heavily pregnant patients almost in their EDC.
  • How about your time commitment ?  A stand alone site maybe preferable if you choose to commit your time entirely to a single location or if you prefer greater control  of your practice.  Mall based practices allow chunks of time for their doctors and maybe more convenient if you choose to move from one site to another within a day’s work.
  • If your practice requires a lot of ancillary procedures or cross referrals to other specialties, you may have to consider access to diagnostic centers and availability of other doctors.
  • Potential patient traffic  must also be considered in choosing your site. But remember, high patient traffic may not always mean traffic towards you. That’s another topic.
  • I also tried  mall practice but gave it up.  I enjoyed the shopping (lots of temptation to drain what little I have) but I wanted patients who will not shop for doctors or see just whoever is around.


Financial considerations also come in when choosing a site.  Cost varies  from everything  on your tab to paying  hourly fixed rate  to percentages. Some sites may also require that you put in some investment.


Got other ideas to consider when choosing a practice site. Please share in the comments below.


Choose your site well.

Marching to a New Life

start practice stetIts been  months.  No more hospital duties. No more switchboard calls.  No more endorsements. It seems like you are marching into a new life. Yes, you are.  This  finally dawns on every new graduate.

Many of you may have finished training last December.  What a great time to think about starting your practice.  Before you get busy finding a place, permits and all sort of small steps, may i offer a suggestion to think BIG first.  The small steps will have to follow. Here are some BIG STEPS to take first.


Yes, we are still on starting your practice.  But this time, remember it does not happen in isolation to your personal life.  Think about your family, current or future. Think about your physical, emotional and social well being. How would you like them to be? How would they be side by side with your budding professional life? Create the big picture where your personal and professional life complements each other.

2. Determine what defines you.

This makes decision making easier.  You  may have  cross roads or decision points .  You may find yourself with different options for practice. You may need to decide whether to grab what you have in hand or wait for something else. Defining what you really commit to helps in deciding. I have discussed this in another article here.

3. Visualize things as if its right there before your eyes.

Imagine the universe granting every which way you want your life to be –personally and professionally.  Imagine it unfold before you on a day to day  basis in detailed, colorful images. Imagine what it feels like and how it brings you joy and delight. Your image should be as vivid as you could possibly imagine it—appealing to all your senses.  If you imagine you wake up to a fine morning in a bed so comfortable, in a home so serene, perhaps in the outskirts of the city—visualize what you see, hear, feel  etc. Describe details  about time, people, mood, interactions, relationships etc.  Integrate work life and personal life in your vision and see how it flows day to day. Keep this picture in your mind as you take further steps. Or better yet, write it in a narrative in present tense.

4. Determine what will help you make things happen.

If your vision above has to happen, what choices should you be making now? It may not be fully realized at this time, but what small steps need to be done at this junction to allow it to evolve towards it?

These 4 big steps will inspire you through the tedious and numerous steps you will take in the days ahead.  Do them one at a time.  When you are done, look if what you see makes you smile.  Then you are ready….






photo by sura nualpradid/


Grow Up Doc!

young mdWhen I was in medical school, I already heard  what other people are saying. Doctors in training seem to be in an extended adolescence  stage. I don’t know if my Pediatric Adolescent  Specialist friends will agree.  Perhaps   it’s the confines of the medical world  that predisposes us to it. There is so much to do, to read,  to write, to attend to.  The world of a  medical trainee   revolves around books, patients, cases and more books, patients and cases!

Then suddenly out  of residency or fellowship into the REAL world.  The ADULT world.


To raise a family.  Make a living.  Don’t forget, make a LIFE other than being a doctor.  The loooooong years of studying medicine seem to make us forget  that we have “other lives. ”  Our gifts get buried that we need to rediscover ourselves.  No wonder why I went into making chocolates and pastries as well as dabbing on painting when I finished residency!


There’s more!  Whoever said just finish training  and they will come must  really be joking!  So, I had to plan my next move to get the practice going! Kailangan palang pag-isipan! Where are the patients? How do I get them to see me?  Hay! Dapat pala may big picture!


Then there’s the numerous documents—SSS, pag-ibig, philhealth, BIR, getting an OR  etc.  I admit these things really made me panic more than other things! Will I have to do it myself? If you know me, when it comes to matters like these—you can say I am like a princess.  Everything is done for  me by somebody else!


Here comes financial matters! FINANCE is a BIG word for me.


Even if I grew up with a dad who is an entrepreneur, nowhere was I in that area during my training years! All I know is that I get this amount  every month and I spend it. I don’t know how to open a bank account, write a check or go to an ATM. My best financial teacher  was a book I chanced  upon in a book sale store entitled “ The Wealthy Barber”. Thought Bubble:” If  the barber can be wealthy, maybe so can I!”  he! he! he!  The book turned out to be an engaging story  about a barber who knew personal finance and taught it to his customers during their monthly haircut visits.


Much of the learning came when I was thrown into the adult world and I needed to learn things with not much choice.  Fast forward so and so years, here are my insights:


  • Do not jump the gun on finding a clinic, getting a secretary  etc. in haste.  Think big picture first.  Remember you are making a life not just a living.


  • Do not bury your gifts! Continue to develop them.  Even if you have to do it one gift at a time . Take small steps so they don’t get buried to oblivion. Hey , I  sold a lot of chocolates after residency until I had to turn away from them to avoid eating too much !


  • It pays to learn about those regulatory stuff you need to practice.  Even if you will not do it yourself, you owe it to yourself to know about taxation, permits, certification etc.


  • Learn personal finance.  Do not get intimidated by the word and the figures. Read materials about it.  There are many online resources on this topic.  Remember the barber! If he can do it, so can you!


  • Raise up your plans in prayer.  Whoever is your God, He must be a generous God who will see you through!


Time to grow up doc , don’t you think so?




photo by jomphong/