Physicians + Lifestyle Design

Physicians + Lifestyle Design

By Greg Bledsoe MD MPH

Over on Freelance MD, I've posted a couple of articles about taking responsibility for yourself and "building your own ship" , and we've also gone through a few common reasons why physicians aren't the best at career modification.

In this post, I'd like to spend a little time introducing you to the idea of "lifestyle design," something that has become a bit of a buzz-phrase in the business world but as far as I can tell hasn't penetrated the world of medicine just yet (for a lot of reasons).

I'll begin with a personal story...

When I jumped off the academic track in 2006, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do as a career but I knew I wanted something unique.  My idea was to design a career that was flexible, fun, adventurous, and meaningful, all the while paying my bills and being a responsible spouse and parent.  Simple, huh?

I spent months thinking about how to do this as a physician.  I searched websites and blogs.  I spoke with mentors and colleagues.  I read the literature, all to no avail.  There seemed to be no conversation about a career like this in medicine.  I mean, there were a few articles about volunteer opportunities or non-traditional careers, but nothing really like what I was trying to create.

Read More

Physicians & Assets

By Gregory H. Bledsoe MD

With all the concern over the economy and the changes in health care, I thought it would be a good idea to write just a quick post about financial assets.

Most physicians do not understand the concept of financial assets and wonder why they feel like they are working harder and faster for less and less reward.  

Now, I want to be clear, I am not a financial expert or a wealth manager.  However, I have found a few principles that have really helped me personally, so I though I would pass them along to the readers of Freelance MD.

First, it needs to be said loudly and clearly that when a physician first graduates from his or her residency program, they have not "made it" in the financial sense.  Yes, graduating from residency is a great achievement and does signify the completion of a long, difficult training period.  It also usually is accompanied by a significant increase in salary and the ability to live better and spend more.

However, in the financial sense, a newly minted physician is in a horrible financial place.

Most physicians finish residency with significant debt, debt that is made worse due to the young physician's new salary, a salary that places the physician in a tax bracket that precludes the interest on student loans from being tax deductible.  

Next, most physicians have little financial training so they immediately "reward" themselves for all the years of focus and discipline with a "few" nice things.  I clearly remember many resident friends of mine who bought expensive luxury cars and nice homes immediately after graduation.  Since few residents have significant savings, these new physicians simply added to their significant student loans even more debt in the form of car loans and large mortgages.

The problem with all this is that the new physician is suddenly saddled with enormous overhead.  His or her lifestyle looks nice, but at the end of each month very little money goes to savings or retirement or investing in other financial assets that could help increase their overall net worth.  Even those physicians who are aggressive about paying down debt and funding retirement often do not rise as high as they could financially because they make the mistake of pouring their disposable income into items that they believe are assets but actually are liabilities.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, has produced a couple of very short informational videos (around 2 minutes each) that summarize the issue of assets.  The true definition of an asset is something that makes you money.  While this seems obvious, it is often misunderstood.  For instance, many physicians consider their homes and their cars "assets."  Strictly speaking, these items are not assets since for the most part they take money out of your pocket.  

Here's a short video of Robert defining true assets, and how to differentiate them from your liabilities:

Make sense?

For an item to be a true asset it needs to produce cash for you.  

Physicians work very hard and make a good salary, but most take their disposable income and instead of using it to buy assets, they pour it into items that actually increase the outflow of money from their pockets.  If the physician hits a snag in his/her career-- illness, salary decrease, burnout-- they suddenly realize how fragile their financial world really is.  Without true assets putting money each month back into their pockets, these physicians realize they are simply highly-paid hourly workers who are forced to exchange time for money indefinitely if they are to survive.  This realization is a very depressing concept, and one that I believe significantly contributes to the frustration of many physicians today.

To break out of this cycle, a physician absolutely must understand the principle of investing in true assets with their disposable income so that they begin to slowly wean themselves off of the dependence of their physician salaries.  In the end, a wise physician will have lived frugally, paid down debt, placed money in retirement, and instead of buying "toys" with their disposable income, instead slowly built up a collection of assets that put money back into their pocket and made their physician salary superfluous.  Ideally, a physician will eventually reach a point where their living expenses are covered by the income from their assets and their salary as a physician becomes simply the "icing on the cake" so to speak.  Perfectly executed, this freedom from the time-money continuum allows a physician to see their careers as something they choose to do for whatever reason-- desire, interest, altruism, curiosity, etc...-- not something they are forced to do to continue surviving.  It truly is a life-empowering shift in perspective.

So what are some examples of assets?

Here again, Robert Kiyosaki succinctly describes the three broad categories of assets in the following video:

I hope this all makes sense and you're beginning to get a vision about how you can begin breaking free from the time-money grind through the purchasing and development of true financial assets.  

About: Dr. Greg Bledsoe is a physician entrepreneur that has founded and the Medical Fusion Conference. He blogs at

The New Medical Spa MD Podcast

Medical Spa MD now has its own podcast for physicians and medical spas and the first couple of episodes are now live.

I've been looking to start a podcast for Medical Spa MD for a while now, and we've finally launched.

With each new episode, we'll talk about cosmetic medicine, plastic surgery, cosmetic lasers, clinic operations, management, marketing, sales, treaments, cost controls and everything else you'll want to know. We'll be asking (and hopefully answering) the tough questions. How do different cosmetic lasers compare? Which IPL company provides the best service? How should you compensate and motivate your staff? How to market your clinic? Where to spend your advertising budget? How to get started. How to grow. How to compete. Finally, what does that mean for your business and lifestyle?

To start, we're interviewing physicians who discuss their own concept of personal brand and how they've managed their careers outside of clinical medicine. 

In the first episode we talk to Dr. Greg Bledsoe about the Medical Fusion Conference and his desire to help physicians control more of their career. Greg's speaking from experience here. He's a leader in expedition medicine and organizes his other businesses to facilitate the lifestyle and income that he wants.

In episode 2 we're talking with Dr. Elliot Justin of Swift MD about telemedicine and the efficient delivery of medical services remotely. Elliot talks candidly about Swift MD and how company got started and functions operationally. He's also got some views on the state of US healthcare that resonate with almost every other physician I know.

We've already got another few episodes being edited and a long list of physicians and others who are scheduled to appear. My goal is to get out at least one every other week for the foreseeable future.

This new podcast will focus on providing relevant information for physicians, with a special emphasis on cosmetic practices, techniques, marketing, operations and just about everything you'll want to be aware of the field of nonsurgical cosmetic medicine. While we'll have plenty of physician interviews, we'll also be talking to technology companies, marketing gurus, and others about what it takes to run a successful medical practice, and exactly how to use these tactics and operations inside your own clinic. We'll be providing broad overviews as well as delving down into specific treatments and 'how tos'.

The Medical Spa MD Podcast is a permenant addition. You can find it by clicking on the link in the main navigation at the top the page. You'll also be able to subscribe to the RSS feed directly or subscribe via iTunes as soon as they index the feed.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. What topics would you like us to cover in the future? What guests would you like us to interview?