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

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/

Find Your Sounding Board

sounding board

Planning one’s future is one of the most exciting thing to do. I can feel the energy passing through every nerve of my body.  When an idea pops up, I can get lost in it for hours. I even dream about it.  Big plans are great! I made a lot of those. I have seen other doctors made them too.

One critical step in planning  is sounding them off to people who can give you their most honest opinion  about it.

Choose your sounding board well.

When I have an idea or project I wish to pursue, I throw it to friends and listen to their reactions. They may react differently. I pick up significant insights  I failed to see myself.  I throw the idea to my parents. Their experiences in life show me other angles I cannot see from where I am. I throw it to potential recipients of my project. They are my most powerful  resource. I also throw ideas to my mentors, they’ve got the wisdom to know what really matters.

As you make plans for your practice, find your sounding board. They bounce back useful and insightful  information important in your planning.  I try to find patterns in their responses. I take note of  things that keeps on coming up. Even negative comments  serve their purpose.

Who is your sounding board?


Ask other’s opinion. They can help shape your plans.






Image by digitalart/