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: freedigitalphotos.net

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.

Why Doctors Should Know Finance-Expenses

Stories written in numbers….that’s what financial statements tell us.  Simply, it just tells us what happened , what was done and what probably we could have done. This is the second of my series on why doctors should know finance.We talked about income last time.

Today, I am writing on expenses.  Who among you keeps track of them?  I admit, even as I try to, sometimes its difficult for me.  I have tried a notebook, my cellphone, an excel file etc. For now, I am into using my credit card and check book.  The plus point is the written documentation of my spending.  A quick look tells me where the bulk of my spending lies.  Am I eating out most of the time? Has my cost of transportation increased? How about my electrical bill?  Your billing statement or checkbook reveals to you your spending pattern.  If it were a pie, look at how much portion goes to one category and so on. Decide what you can do about the portioning of your expenses if there is a need to.  Try to look at what it is telling you. You wont know unless you look.

Needs vs. Wants.   Just how these two are defined can be a whole lot of discussion.  For me, I just ask “how this spending is already hurting you, or potentially hurt you and the people you love in the future?”  An example would be if i spend a lot of money  on expensive clothes because without them I already feel I am incomplete  or that I have to touch  the money I am saving for my son  just to be able to buy one.  Another question I ask myself is “Can I do without it?”. Some years back, I decided to get rid of our television.  I thought it would be horrible. I have been without it for more than five years now.It gave me more personal  time with my family  and less late nights as well.

Living within one’s means.  If you were reading an income statement, it would be Income-Expenses. If you see numbers in red or enclosed in a parentheses say  (15,000), then it means you are living way beyond your means. What would you do?  You may want to go back to your list of income sources and try to increase it. Or you may want to look back into your spending and decrease it.

Let’s write your income statement now.  First, list down your income sources. Then write your Expenses.  Deduct your Expenses from your income.  It would be great to have a  positive number when you do the math.

What’s your income statement story?


Do you have other ways to track your expenses that you can share?


If you want to read more on this topic or practice related articles, click subscribe on this page to get a notice every time we have a new post!



photo by nuchylee/freedigitalphotos.net



Learn The Art of Selling

What? Me, sell? No way! I don’t like selling.  That’s precisely why I took Medicine.  I don’t like to sell. Period.

Believe it or not, we all sell!


I must admit, I could not buy the idea myself at first. Selling does not necessarily involve goods, wares or products.  When you try to convince your friend to eat pasta because you are craving for it, my dear, you are selling! When you want a certain work done by engaging others to help you, convincing them to do so is selling.   So yes, we all sell.


What does selling got to do with my practice? Getting started with your practice requires that you sell your best product, YOU!

If you were to sell yourself to somebody, what do you think will convince others to”buy” you? A recent “buy me” exercise revealed very interesting points  we can learn from.


  • People buy because they see the passion in the person selling.  In our work, do our patients see our passion in helping them?
  • People buy because they are friends.  Are your patients just patients or do they feel that they  are  treated as friends?
  • People buy because the offer has been fitted to their needs. Do we know our patients enough to meet their needs?
  • People buy because they see and know that what we say is who we really are.  Do we “walk our talk” when we deal with patients?


The minute a new patient walks into our clinic, he is already deciding whether this will be the start of a long lasting relationship or his last.

Which one would it be for you?









photo by Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net






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/freedigitalphotos.net



wiifm choosing

Have you ever wondered what makes patients go to one doctor over another?

It’s always about WIIFM?  (What’s in it for me?)

WIIFM if I go to you?


Here’s an exercise for you.  C’mon,  stay with me here.  Get a blank sheet of paper.  Write three things that will make  your practice different and more attractive to patients.

If you wrote something like this

1. By appointment visits

2. Accepts credit card payment

3. 24 hour access


That’s a good  start. Lets make that  a bit better.  Imagine you are the patient. In each of the following set of two statements, which  connects to you faster and clearer?


Here’s one…

1. I see all my patients by appointment.

2. Manage the rest of your day. Be seen as soon as you arrive.

How about this?

1. We accept credit card payments.

2. Hassle  free consults because paying is as easy as a swipe of your card.

Here’s another…

1. 24 hour access

2. Get the worry off your mind. Call me anytime.


Number 1 statements are features of your practice.

Number 2 statements are benefits your patients will experience with  your practice.


People always want to know what’s in it for them.  When communicating what differentiates you from the rest try focusing on the benefits rather than the features of your clinic or practice.



Communicate benefits not features. 


image by renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net