If you are not into details, skip straight pass the blue texts, which provide the background incident that inspired me to write this post. But the 5 points are listed in the black texts following the blue ones 🙂
I was recently reminded that misery loves company. During a weekend double shift (covered by a PGY3 8a-8p and PGY2 7a-4p), which can be easily manned by a second year radiology resident (PGY3), hence most PGY3 would send the PGY2 home after the PGY2 is done with his/her dications. I could say that this is one PGY3 shift because I just came off of a 3 day weekend 8-8 call as a fresh new PGY3.
Anticipating I would be working 12+ hours for 4 weeks straight with just 2 days off, I was looking forward to leave the weekend shift when I’m done with dictation as a PGY2. The PGY3 was on his last day of PGY3 year and the exams were coming in slow enough that he could dictate whole reports when only impressions/preliminary reports were required of him.
His immediate response when I said I was hoping to leave when I get done with my dictations was a lecture how I better get used to working hard. He then proceeded to tell many people including my program director that I asked to leave early on his weekend call.
I was deeply hurt… I felt so blemished. But it was my fault, I gave him the opportunity to “reveal” a fact (I left early on the Sunday) to others. While I at peace with being not the smartest kid in my program, I’m certainly one of the hardest working PGY’s in my program. In fact, because I blog/write/speak on personal finance, I work extra hard in radiology residency on day to day duties and academic research to ensure that I don’t put the “cart in front of the horses” so to speak.
Getting burnt this way lead me to think hard about my medical practice and interactions with my medical colleagues.
I realize the biggest difference between him and I is that I am happy when I work hard and I need not drag someone else along with me.
My positive attitude in the face of increasing workload and responsibility is not a completely natural tendency. Yet with practice and intention, I enjoy working hard, knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s life.
Here are 5 concrete reasons why I’m happiest when I’m working the hardest.
I’m working for knowledge and service to others, not for money.
As I stated before, medicine has an extremely high opportunity cost, there’s definitely innumerable easier ways to make money. For instance, as I try to calm down a frustrated clinician, explaining why a particular radiologic study might not be the best for a patient, my employees (post-tax dollars in my Roth 403b/IRA index funds) are hard at work, making more money for me. When I work 12+ hours for 3 days on July 4th weekend shift, I’m working for knowledge, to sharpen my mind so I can better serve my patients and the clinicians from all specialties who collaborate with medical imaging.
Since I’m working for knowledge, the harder and the more work, the more knowledge I get. Whereas someone with a sense of entitlement and is working for money, the paradigm is completely opposite, the harder and the more he works, the less his making per hour or per unit of effort.
Hence, the harder I work, the better radiologist I become, the happier I am i knowing that I’ve given my all to serve my patients.
I empathize with others.
I put myself in someone else’s shoes. This is especially easy if I just walked in those same shoes a little time ago. I’m known to be the resident who loves sending other residents (radiology or visiting clinicians) and medical students home whenever I could, even if sometimes that just means I suggests to the attending that the med students could use free time to study for boards, or PGY’s can get ready to move, etc.
Opposite of empathy is what some of the American founders did to those who followed their footsteps, trying to immigrate from Europe in search of religious freedom. These people who just came from Europe themselves put up tremendous barrier against those coming shortly after them. Sad. That’s all I have to say.
I build people up, not tear them down.
I believe in praising, in front of the person and in his/her back. I don’t believe in criticizing (no matter how subtle) anyone, particularly behind his/her back. Simple rule that my kid knows, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
I treat others the way I wanted to be treated.
Goes without saying, a kindergartner knows this.
I’m way more productive when I’m positive.
Time to me is the most precious resource I have. That’s why, I’ve long decided not to chase after money with my time. Instead, I follow what I love, medicine, radiology, my kiddo, yoga, and allow money to follow me (by setting up fool-proof, emotional-proof, passive investment style.) Since I only have 24 hours/day and now 16 hours/day (2 hours less than the last 15 years as I finally started sleeping more than 4 hours), I do not want to waste my breath to put any negative energy into this universe.
The only person I keep prisoner when sh*tting on others is myself.