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Episode 28 An Anesthesiologist’s Guide To Financial Independence, Taking Mini Sabbaticals, And Living Intentionally w. Dr. Dawn Baker

Oct 14, 2019

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This Episode

Interview w/ Dr. Dawn Baker

You Will Learn

– Tips for how to ask for extended time off work and make it a win-win for your employer.
 – Practical steps to “close the gap” between your current and ideal life
 – How overcoming fear of others’ opinions can free you to live with more autonomy
 

Resources & Links

In this weeks’ episode I talk to Dr. Dawn Baker.  We discuss her nontraditional journey into medicine, her surprise medical diagnosis that extended her residency by six months, how she got the courage to ask for a 9 month sabbatical, and more.  Lots of great lifestyle and balance discussion in this episode.

 

Show notes available at www.anesthesiasuccess.com/28

[This transcript was auto-generated]

Dr. Baker: [00:01] We have no loans on anything and that feeling is just so freeing. We can go anywhere, do anything if anything happens at work. You know your job, some how like decides to do something weird, someone buys your practice and then all of a sudden the environment isn’t very good or whatever. Doesn’t matter.

Justin: [00:20] Hey, this is Justin Harvey, your host of the anesthesia success podcast. My wife is an anesthesia resident and I’m a financial planner and I work with anesthesia and pain doctors as my clients. This podcast is designed to help the anesthesia community be informed about their careers, their finances, and more by taking important questions straight to the experts. Thanks for tuning in this week I’m talking with dr Dawn Baker. I talked to Dawn about her family’s journey to early financial independence, what it’s like to be having a flexible career as an anesthesiologist and some of the proudest moments that she’s had as a physician or mother. So have you ever wondered what it’s like to really have a lot of autonomy and flexibility in the way that you live out your medical career? You won’t want to miss this episode.

Justin: [01:07] Hello everybody. Welcome to episode 28 of the anesthesia success podcast. I’m very pleased to have a special guest with us this week. Dr Dawn Baker. Dawn is a board certified anesthesiologist at the university of Utah. She is a prolific and very gifted writer. She’s a mom, she’s a rock climber, and she is someone who is not afraid to think outside the box when it comes to money, career priorities, et cetera. And I’m really pleased to have dr Dawn Baker with us today. Thanks for being here. Dawne.

Dr. Baker: [01:32] Thank you Justin. That is so nice. What a nice thing.

Justin: [01:35] Oh, well I mean every word of it. So you know, you have a really interesting resume and,I want to just dive right in. Tell us an interesting story from when you’re on the side of a rock face somewhere and, ell us some about some of the places you’ve seen, some of the places you’ve climbed. I know you and your husband climbed together. I’m sure you’ve, yu know, been to like a lot of places domestically and internationally. It sounds like

Dr. Baker: [02:01] We have been, luckily I haven’t had any kind of like brushes with death or anything like that. That’s the way to be, have longevity in rock climbing is to not have those. So but I have been all over the world and I’ve been climbing since about 1994, 1995 and we have gone in many different States climbing, but and also many countries. And I would say that probably my favorite place to climb that have been three times is a small Island in Greece that’s called Kalymnos, spelled with aK and it is just so beautiful. It has these limestone caves and then also some faces of limestone, but they’re right next to the ocean. The water is super dark blue. It’s not really humid to get, can imagine that humidity is bad for rock climbing because it can make your hands kind of slippery. It’s more like a desert right next to the ocean and it’s just great. It’s a super fun people, very relaxed atmosphere, really good climbing. That’s my favorite place.

Justin: [03:03] Awesome. That’s really cool. I’ve Dawne like a tiny, tiny bit of rock climbing in my most recent exposure to rock climbing. Maybe some people, some listeners can relate to this as seeing free solo documentary that came out a couple of weeks ago about the guy who was free climbing was it half dome and Yosemite?

Dr. Baker: [03:17] Yeah, yeah. It was a specific like difficult route that he made and that was a really good movie. I definitely think that that is a good movie for climbers and for non climbers because it talks a lot about psychological stuff. But he’s a very unique breed of climber. I mean, most people Dawn’t do it.

Justin: [03:37] Yeah, I can, I just remembered these shots, these aerial shots of like looking at over the cliff and me, you know, sit like watching the TV, like getting a little bit, I could feel my stomach twisting like this is, I can’t believe somebody did this without a rope. That’s just insane to me.

Dr. Baker: [03:49] Yeah. He’s kind of a unique,

Justin: [03:53] Yeah, that makes sense. So I’m curious to hear, you know, clearly with the little bit of intro that I just gave, people couldn’t tell Dawn might not be the typical anesthesiologist. Not that there necessarily is like a typical like type of doctor, but you’ve got a lot of unique components to your story. So why Dawn’t you just give a little bit of insight as to your background, kind of where did you come from? What did you study earlier in your career and how did you land where you are today?

Dr. Baker: [04:16] Yeah, well I was a nontraditional medical student. I worked as an engineer for a couple of years and actually got a master’s degree in chemical engineering as well. And then I decided to go to medical school. I was kind of thinking about it after undergraduate school and knew that the engineering path to kind of like big company industry and then management wasn’t going to be for me. So I was looking at different options and landed on medical school, but really had no knowledge of what it was like to be a doctor. Met some people that we’re in anesthesia that were early mentors and they were people who were ex engineer’s because there’s some kind of parallels with engineering and anesthesia and kind of the technical aspects of physiology and pharmacology. Yeah. So that was how I got interested in anesthesia per se. But I went to medical school when I was in my late twenties, so it was a little bit later than your typical straight through student. I feel like that that was a good thing though because you get some life perspective and you know, just go straight through. I’m doing, you know, head down schoolwork. I traveled a lot basically related to the rock climbing and worked and that kind of [inaudible].

Justin: [05:30] Was there a moment when you thought, you know what, I’m gonna start applying to med schools. That feels like a good idea or was it, did it was kind of a gradual realization for you?

Dr. Baker: [05:37] It wasn’t gradual. I would say that I went on a long trip that was rock climbing and hiking. I went to Thailand and Nepal and it was year 2000, I believe. And that was the year we were gone for a few months. That I realized as I was seeing this diversity of people in all these different countries that I just really wanted to do something service oriented and something that was also something you could do in many different places, including different countries, but many different cities and an engineering. You’re very tied to the industry and your specialization and area really dictates where you live. And there’s not a lot of freedom there to move around or travel. So that experience really made me want to go to medical school. But then it was a little while until I applied because my husband happened to be, let me think about this. I think he was, Oh yeah, he had just graduated his law school and finished his law school degree. But we needed to move to a certain place and get established and then I was going to apply to medical school.

Justin: [06:42] Got it. Okay, cool. And then obviously,a very important part of your story is medical school and then residency. You, ou experienced some health challenges. Maybe talk a little bit about how that, tht the time period of residency was for you and then talk a little bit about what happened during that time.

Dr. Baker: [07:02] Yeah. Well, I really liked medical school. I thought it was really fun and internship was great. It was super exhilarating, just kind of finally having that autonomy and taking care of patients on your own. And then kind of maybe the halfway through the first year of anesthesia residency, which is the second year of your like total residency, I started feeling a little bit off. I felt depressed and I never had any kind of issues with depression. It was kind of like an an heDawnic depression where it was difficult to get up in the morning and go to those early or days. And then also just sleep disturbance. And at the same time I underwent a fertility workup because I pass through that period of being mid thirties and decided that I probably did want to have a kid before. It was kind of like, well, are we going to have kids or are we not gonna have kids?

Dr. Baker: [07:54] So I went to see a fertility specialist and I had an issue with reproductive stuff where like my period wasn’t coming and I thought it was just related to the stress of anesthesia, but they started this long workup and my hormones were completely out of whack. They told me that it was stress induced. So initially I went to my department and took a leave of absence related to that and just embarked on this whole Odyssey of figuring out how to de stress myself cause I was stressed, I did feel stressed and I was kind of talking up all these issues to stress. But it turned out that there was an organic reason for these symptoms. So they found a large pituitary at a Noma that was also causing me to have profound vision loss. And that was right in the middle of my residency period.

Justin: [08:44] Wow. So I’m, my wife right now, obviously is in residency and you know, residency itself is incredibly stressful, incredibly demanding. I can’t imagine going through what you’re through, what you just described. And then on top of it having this tour, how, how did you, how did you process that?

Dr. Baker: [09:01] So when I found out that I had the tumor, I was really worried, but I had some relief because I realized that there was actually something fixable that was causing these problems before it was really difficult to figure out, you know, when things aren’t just this issue that can be solved by surgery or medication, it’s really hard to deal with. So I’m psychologic things, even just issues with burnout that people have during residency, they can feel unsolvable. And I had that feeling for a while. I just kind of had a feeling of hopelessness and it was somewhat related to what was going on with me hormonally, but I didn’t know that at the time. And everyday I would wake up and I would say to my husband, I think I wanna quit. I think I want to quit if you want to quit. And he kept saying, Dawn’t quit.

Dr. Baker: [09:51] Dawn’t quit. Dawn’t quit. So it was difficult to keep going in the beginning. But once I got that diagnosis and then I was basically on the table having surgery a week later, we happen to have a pituitary tumor resection specialists that are [inaudible] university where I trained and my residency director helped me to get an appointment with him and they were very gracious and got me in and had my surgery Dawne pretty quickly. So after that, it was time to move on and, you know, figure out, I mean, I had to take care of myself of course and recover, but I’m just kind of a, my goal after that was just finished residency.

Justin: [10:31] Right. How long did you have to take off as a result of all that?

Dr. Baker: [10:34] So I took a few months off of F MLA when it was the, you know, the, the whole stress induced diagnosis and then I took probably another month off after and, and that was just for the recovery from the tumor resection, which involved a Rhea rehospitalization and some complications related to electrolytes. But that a whole period of time didn’t make me have to complete a whole other year of residency or anything. I just,was able to make up that time at the end of the, the year, you know, after I graduated.

Justin: [11:08] Okay. And then talk to me a little bit about sort of the transition. So you completed residency, it was really difficult, not only professionally but obviously medically and then your, you find yourself transitioning into practice. Did you go directly or was it, did you take some time off again? Cause I know there’s this idea that keeps coming up of what you call mini sabbaticals and I want to unpack that a little bit and I’m excited too. But what, what did you do upon graduating residency?

Dr. Baker: [11:34] So I did graduate kind of off cycle because of that, a makeup time and I just took maybe like one to two months off during the period of getting credentialed. And I actually got a job at the same institution where I trained. So that wasn’t too, because I was already in their system, but I did take a little bit of time off. But just kind of the typical amount of time off that other people take for, you know, studying or things like that. I did, I, I wasn’t studying for anything cause I had already taken the written boards in the summer. But it was nice to have a little bit of extra time off. Yeah, I definitely like the mini sabbatical. Yeah. Whenever there’s a period to pause. I have taken advantage of that in my life since college.

Justin: [12:19] Yeah. So tell us a little bit about this, cause I know I was reading on one of your, and we want to talk about your blog. So you’ve got two blogs that you’re currently working on where you’re, as I said, just like a really a really amazing writer and I’ve enjoyed your stuff very much. And Kevin MD, there was that article there about your mentor that I really appreciated. We’ll link to that in the show notes. So if you listeners want to go to anesthesia, success.com/ 28 you can see a Dawn’s blogs and some of her writing there. But one of the articles that I read had to do with the six mini sabbaticals that you’ve taken, which for a a mid forties you know, physician that is you that’s got to put you in an elite class. There’s not a lot of people that have Dawne that. So where does that come from?

Dr. Baker: [12:58] You know, I can’t really take credit for having that idea in my head. Originally. I would say that my husband planted all of those seeds for those sabbaticals. He’s always been kind of more of a contrarian forward thinker and someone who, from the beginning of our time and undergraduate together, we met when we were 19 years old, wanted to be able to move slowly through school. He petitioned to take less credits during his undergraduate so that he could have a little bit more time. And then after we were finished with our undergraduate training, we finished at the same time, four, he went to law school. He took a few months off and I finagled it to make it so that I could do that too because of timing of getting hired for a job in engineering. And then after his law school, he also negotiated to take a few months off before starting his actual law job.

Dr. Baker: [13:58] So it was always a, it’s always something where it’s a point of negotiation that either he or I have used or we both used in concert,with timing with each other to get these little breaks. And then the ones that I worked into, that article that I wrote on my blog practice balance, some of them, you know, they’re tongue in cheek, they’re not really sabbatical cause obviously it wasn’t, it wasn’t a vacation to take time off from, you know, when I was sick. And then one of them was maternity leave and people wouldn’t necessarily consider that as a medical either, but it was still a three months off of work. And the funny thing is I think a lot of people Dawn’t think that this is something that’s possible to do, that it’s something that’s looked down upon. And yeah, maybe some people do look down upon it, but you can find jobs where they will let you do this before you start.

Dr. Baker: [14:50] Or, you know, in the middle of the jobs you just have to kind of ask at the right time and with the correct method of asking. And also the other thing is the fear is always well what’s going to happen when I come back? Am I gonna have lost skills or something like that. And I would definitely argue any anesthesia, any of the times that I took breaks even when I was sick, when I went back I, I there wasn’t, there was like maybe a very short period of reintegration but it was not a significant issue at all.

Justin: [15:20] Yeah, it makes sense. One of the stories that stuck out to me that you had written about was how your husband as a, as you mentioned a an early on contrarion and forward thinker was taking intentionally taking 12 credits per semester as an engineering student in order to proceed at a pace that he felt was reasonable. And I remember in undergrad I roomed with three engineers. I was the lone finance guy in my dorm and they were all taking 18 1920 credits work. Like, I never saw any of them cause they’re always in the library. And I just remember thinking, wow, this is like, these guys are really grinding pretty hard. And to hear, you know, the story, your husband’s story, I thought that just sounds like a guy who’s, who’s not afraid to do exactly what he wants and sort of do life on his own terms. And you know what he got to the end and it sounds like he got his diploma just like everybody else.

Dr. Baker: [16:04] Absolutely. And same with you know, going to stay schools versus going to expensive private schools or Ivy league schools. We always did the skate state school route and once we established ourselves where we were going to live in a city,where my husband got his law, you know, first law job, that was when we decided to go to medical school so that I could take advantage of being an in state resident at a state medical school and all of this conferred on us very low amounts of debt from student loans in the end. And we still got the same degrees that everybody else.

Justin: [16:38] That’s right. That’s right. And I do a lot of student loan planning and we might’ve discussed that when we met at fin con. And I mean, I see it all the time and I’m talking to these parents who they have their own loans that they’re still paying off and they’re trying to think about taking more loans to send their kids to undergraduate at, you know, private university, XYZ. And I just tell them like, man, think really long and hard about this because private versus public, like if you work hard and make good connections, it ultimately can, you can pretty much negate any difference if you’re determined to do so.

Dr. Baker: [17:09] Absolutely. I think it depends on your, your degree that you’re going for, but in the things that we’re talking about, medicine, engineering, science backgrounds, it does not matter where you go. I mean, maybe if you’re going to be the president of the United States and you need the, you know, Ivy league pedigree or something that’s different but not for these fields. And,definitely I, yeah, I think that having huge amounts of debt like that is just the worst feeling in the world. That feeling of being trapped and having to do a job that maybe you aren’t liking or Dawn’t want to do is just something I never really wanted to.

Justin: [17:50] Totally agree. And yet, you know, we look around and there’s a lot of specifically positions cause you know, med school is so expensive. And then there’s the pressure of you finish residency and then,you know, there’s this, you get a five or six X pay raise and there’s a lot of pressure, peer pressure, and just sort of psychologically to, to want to start spending a lot of that money. So talk a little bit about how, how has this function for you in the context of moving through residency to attending hood? I mean, you’ve talked a little bit about financial independence. First of all, what does that mean for our uninitiated listeners and how has your financial path unfolded during, you know, I’d say the last 10 or 12 years.

Dr. Baker: [18:31] Yeah. Well, one thing that I think going back to the kind of student loan debt situation we made a choice to always go to state schools. My husband and I both had undergraduate scholarships at our state schools as well. Not everybody can get that. I understand, but I’m going to the state school or even just like going to a, community college for a couple of years and getting your basics Dawne will really minimize your student debt. But then you went to state law school. I went to state medical school. The other thing we did is we took turns going to school. So, yu know, I was already kind of thinking about medical school while he was in law school, but I wasn’t 100% sure at the time. But if I was, I still feel like it would have been a good choice for us to do it the way that we did where one person went just it, it kind of minimizes the depth burn a little bit because the other person can work while the one person is in school.

Dr. Baker: [19:28] And that helped us because when I was a medical student then he was able to offset my loans by paying for some of my medical school. I did still have to take some loans, but I was able to pay them off relatively quickly compared to other people as far as other like finance things. So I would say that one thing that we really did that a lot of people Dawn’t do that you were alluding to with the psychological aspects is we left our [inaudible] are lifestyle, kind of like cost of living, pretty constant. I would say that we’ve had a little bit of creep, but it’s kind of natural related to growing your family. There’s going to be some lifestyle creep there, but when I got out of residency and are, you know, made Mmm whatever, X more money, it wasn’t like all of a sudden we were like, okay, bring on the 6,000 square foot house and bring on the BMW.

Dr. Baker: [20:24] We just didn’t do that. That’s not the kind of people we are. We never were really enter into that stuff. But I do think that that, that helps to, to get toward the ultimate [inaudible] that you were talking about, which is financial independence. And that’s a difficult thing to quickly defined. But I would say that there are a few different aspects of it. So there’s an aspect of that. You had to stop working immediately,today, like you couldn’t do your job anymore. Do you have enough money to indefinitely sustain you, ou know, for the rest of your life living years. And, tere are some calculations that you can find online for that. And you know, is your net worth enough that you can draw down off of that with the kind of, the way that the normal market works and still have enough money.

Dr. Baker: [21:19] And there’s something called the 4% rule related to that. And then also, you know, what is your debt situation? And that feeds into the, the net worth obviously. But, e have no debt. We are completely debt free and that is not within the last 10 years. It’s more like maybe within the last five years or so we paid off our mortgage, we have no loans on anything and that feeling is just so freeing. Yeah, we can go anywhere or do anything if anything happens at work. You know your job’s some how like decides to do something weird. Someone buys your practice or, and then all of a sudden the environment isn’t very good or whatever doesn’t matter cause we can go and figure out something else.

Justin: [22:01] Yeah. On your, so one of your blogs, stealth wealth family. So for any listeners, [inaudible] family.com go and check it out. I think that’s a newer endeavor of yours is newer. I really enjoyed checking out. There’s only a few posts on there right now. Yeah. But the one that caught my eye was looking at the manifesto. So the first post that was basically laying the foundation for where you guys were, where you were going to be going as a family. You had this quote that it’s just I really loved, despite our simple style, we’re not really frugal what we are. His value is just we spend our money on things we value most and cut back on the things we really Dawn’t care about. And I think that really hits the nail on the head with what you just described.

Dr. Baker: [22:39] Yeah, absolutely. I mean you can find examples of people that make a lot less money or have the income potential that is a lot lower than a doctrinal lawyer combined in a family that really live super frugally and they’re able to make it work that they, you know, work less hours or maybe they work no hours or you know, they just do freelance work or something like that. But,for us, we, e’re just basically focusing on intentional living and intentional spending and not letting things that we Dawn’t really care about creeping into our [inaudible] budget per se or, yo know, our, our, expnses.

Justin: [23:25] [Inaudible] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So why Dawn’t you help listeners understand what does it, what does a day in the life of a financially independent anesthesiologist look like?

Dr. Baker: [23:34] I will say that right now I’m doing something kind of unique, which is that I took a nine month sabbatical from my normal anesthesia job. So during this period of time, I am possibly going to be doing medical mission work and locum work, just kind of to keep my skills up, but I’m not necessarily because I need or want to make money. So I think that’s the big kicker is that I, when I go to work, I go to work because I enjoy my work and I like what I’m doing and I like the patient interaction and the interaction with coworkers and a health care team, but I Dawn’t necessarily have to make the money that, that I’m making. The money that I make is, is really nice. But,it’s not something that I’m dependent on. So that’s where the financial independence part comes in.

Dr. Baker: [24:24] In my normal [inaudible] nine months sabbatical time, I work two days a week. That’s my current situation. A typical day is different depending on what day of the week it is. If it’s an off day, I’m blogging, I’m taking my daughter to different kind of like preschool program. She’s only three years old, so she has an outdoor preschool that we sent her to for three hours. So you know, if you were working you wouldn’t necessarily be able to drop your kid off and pick them up. That’s something like that. So it’s a really nice opportunity for her to be around some other kids. But but also we, m husband he works for, he has his own company too. He works for himself, so he’s able to kind of schedule himself flexibly as well. Well sometimes go work on blog stuff, we’ll go climbing, go do other kinds of exercise.

Dr. Baker: [25:18] If my daughter’s not going to one of those special school programs, maybe we’ll be taking a walk as a family doing just really simple things that, that are enjoyable to us, especially being outside. And then on a Workday, those are a little more hectic as everybody understands. With anesthesia, you have to go to work pretty early to be in the ORs. So leave really early. My daughter’s playing with my husband and then he takes her to school and usually I’m finished in time to be able to pick her up at like a longer preschool program. That is like an all day kind of a daycare situation. So those days I’m just working in the LR and I’m seeing patients and as everybody knows who does end a seizure, it’s really variable what you’re going to do on a given day in the operating room and it can change really, really quickly as well.

Justin: [26:10] Yeah. Well what you just described sounds incredible and I’m sure there are people listening to this podcast right now who are thinking like, what is this charmed existence that this little bubble of the world that Dawn lives in, it sounds like a fantasy land. What would you, how would you encourage somebody who’s like, I really love the sound of that, but it just seems so far from where I’m at right now. I’m stuck either paying off a lot on these loans that I have or maybe I, you know, I just feel trapped in my job or I feel like I need to produce a certain amount of RV use or a certain amount of research and I just can’t, I just can’t take the foot

Dr. Baker: [26:43] Off the gas. How would you, how would you advise somebody in that situation? Yeah, I think there are a lot of steps to get from there to where I am. But I think the first thing for people is a lot of people are grinding, grinding, grinding with their head down and they are not thinking about themselves, are taking care of themselves in a proper way. So they’re not, they Dawn’t really know much about their own personalities. What makes them tick. Are they an introvert? Are they an extroverts? What kind of things recharge their batteries? So they need to do a little bit of self introspection at the very get go. So that’s like my first step is I think people need to spend some time with themselves. And I Dawn’t mean you need to go on a silent meditation retreat. I mean like just even at the end of the night, just thinking a little bit reading a little bit about self assessment and self knowledge, maybe journaling.

Dr. Baker: [27:41] That’s what I like to do. I have always journals, not just the blog but like just writing in a little notebook and it doesn’t have to be perfect or you know, you Dawn’t have to be a good writer or anything. It’s just like jotting down feelings and ideas and things. And then from there you need to know by yourself and then where, what your situation is and what is the situation that you want to get to and what are the differences between those two situations and then pick out a little ways that you can get there. So like just tiny little things that really depends on if you’re in a private practice or if you’re in an academic job, you know, maybe you’re an academic anesthesiologist and you’re like, man, I would really like to cut back a day or something. What’s a way that you can get rid of, you know, one of your administrative duties or delegated to somebody else or streamline it in a way that is more productive and gives you a little more free time.

Dr. Baker: [28:36] Can you take a pay cut and go down one day? Can you discuss this with your group? If you’re in private practice is there one thing that you’re doing? Like do you have your hands in every single type of anesthesia and you can just like cut out one thing that will add some time to your day? I mean, I have areas of anesthesia that I Dawn’t practice anymore and I do miss those things, but it’s,a good trade off for me because I feel like [inaudible] I’m able to focus on the other areas of anesthesia that I do like and just keep doing those. And even though I miss something like say OB, I Dawn’t do OB anymore, I still can just have kind of more, uality time doing the things that I do do. And just let that one go by the wayside. You Dawn’t have to be good at every single thing, including research and administrative stuff and clinical anesthesia and all these different roles at work. Maybe cut, cutting down your, your roles, you’re filling at

Justin: [29:42] Work. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So I’m curious, you know, cause I can imagine also people listening to this and saying, you know, you’re on a nine month sabbatical right now. I would love, I love the idea of walking into my, you know, department chair’s office tomorrow and saying, Hey listen, I need some time. I want to take three or six or nine months and either work two days a week or totally stepped back and come back. And that said, I mean for many people again who have been working at the same place for a long time, and especially where the culture is, it’s not such that people are doing that all the time. That sounds like somebody might think that sounds like career suicide. So maybe take us to the moment when you kind of went to ask for that from your, with your current situation, what were you thinking about and how were you able to sort of not be worried about that?

Dr. Baker: [30:25] Well, I will say that I was worried about it. Just in all full disclosure.

Justin: [30:31] Yeah, that’d be great. I mean, that’s helpful to know guys. Dawn is doing this and she was worried to say, you can still do this.

Dr. Baker: [30:37] Right. I definitely still care about what people think of me. My husband tries to influence me to not care and that’s more his personality style. But I definitely still get kind of that feeling of like, I Dawn’t want someone to disapprove of what I’m doing. But that said, I,am willing to, you know, use my, the courage that I do have to ask for what I want. And the worst thing that people can say is no, I mean, it’s not like they’re going to just fire you for asking for something. You do need a time. You’re asked correctly. And I have a whole article on this actually coming out on the physician on fire blog is going to be a guest post. By the time that you publish this podcast, that probably will already be out. So you can search that. I think it’s called, I cn’t remember the title of it that it’s something like, get hat you want in medicine or, ask fr what you want in medicine and get it or something like that.

Justin: [31:39] Yeah, we’ll link to that in the show notes. So anesthesia, success.com/ 28 and we’ll have a link to Dawn’s new article on physician on fires blog. Definitely check that out.

Dr. Baker: [31:47] I’ll be out pretty soon here at the end of this month. But yeah, so anyway, I think timing is a big thing before you even start to ask questions for your department head or your hiring manager who, whoever it is. You need to think about the timing of asking, cause it’s not a time to ask for something like that when they’re hurting for people or you know, they need to hire more people or something. Right? And so am I. Different times in my job I asked to go down to my clinical commitment and then I asked for the sabbatical. I asked at times when we were flush with people. That was a big key component. And then asking in a way where you’re minimizing the difficulty to that it’s going to cause the organization and maybe even offering a concession. Like for instance, recently when I, well not recently, but I asked for this tobacco a long period, a long time ago when I asked, they said, well what are we going to do about this particular site that, you know, you’re the main person that provides anesthesia at this fertility clinic.

Dr. Baker: [32:54] And I already knew that they were going to say something about this. So I had a plan in place to say, well, you know, I, I have recruited this person, this person and this person, they have agreed that they would come on and fill my spot. So you know, stuff like that. I mean that’s just one example. And I think the other thing is maybe getting someone on your side that’s very well liked in the organization. If you have another mentor that’s not that a decision maker that can kind of advocate for you or be a cheerleader, that’s important as well. And I have one of those in my department too. Awesome.

Justin: [33:34] Well it sounds like you’ve navigated that with a lot of wisdom and anticipating questions and then coming ready with an answer to that question at a, that’s, that’s textbook. So well Dawne. Dawne. Thanks. I Dawn’t know

Dr. Baker: [33:45] You know, it’s every situation is different. Yeah. But it’s definitely something that’s possible to do.

Justin: [33:53] Yeah, totally. So I’ve mentioned this a few times and I’m curious to know what you would say about this is I, I’ve really appreciated your writing the bit that I’ve read that article on Kevin MD. It was when one of your mentors had had some sort of like a stroke or some sort of health event was in I think the ICU and you were just sort of real time basically processing these emotions is swirl of like being really upset and being kind of angry and being really like grateful and love, expressing love for this person and all these, all these things happening. And the way that you wrote it. I was, we were sitting at fin con and I was like almost crying. It was so incredible. So I’m curious as somebody who spent a lot of time writing, do you have something that you’ve written that you look at and think like that was something that I really, I really liked the way that came out and I’m really proud of this piece of it.

Dr. Baker: [34:36] I have a lot of things like that that I read where I’ve been writing on this blog. That’s why I do it by the way is because I love writing. And sometimes I’m like, ah, I have writer’s block. I Dawn’t really know what to write. And then something like what you just said comes along like,in one of my DMS or you know, you saying that to me at fin con like, Oh, I almost cried when you, ou know, I read this that you wrote. That is the kind of thing that keeps me going. I love to hear that from people you know, when they say that really impacted me. What you, what you wrote. Like, I Dawn’t make money off of my blog. I’m not doing it to make money. It’s not really a side gig or business in that way.

Dr. Baker: [35:16] It’s more just for the community and the connection. But [inaudible] when I look back at my posts, like sometimes I will look back at things because I need to send someone a link or I need to like backlink in one of my more recent things that I’m doing. I mean this sounds weird, but I, I’m really proud of a lot of the things I’ve written. I, the, a lot of them are just stuff that it was from the heart when I wrote it. Like that’s why I wrote it. And part of the one that you’re referring to that was,maybe from last year was that was how I processed dealing with that loss of, of that colleague. He didn’t die. He’s still around, but I mean he’s not working. And, te, that’s how I dealt with that uncertainty was just writing that post and other people that work with me.

Dr. Baker: [36:07] Reddit, thank you so much for writing what we’re all feeling, but like Dawn’t know how to, to put into words. So yes, I’m really proud of that one. There are other things that I’ve written related to undergoing infertility myself that I’m really proud of. I’m, I have a couple of, if you search practice balance.com for the term infertility, those will come up. And I have some, some really kind of, motional pieces there about, about experiencing that and about becoming a mother. And I, I am a regular contributor to mothers in medicine.com which is another group blog that kind of goes through waves. It’s not all anesthesia, but it goes through waves of, acivity and inactivity. But my posts on there, I hve some more about kind of that information, Lillian and motherhood and those things. And I really like, there’s a piece on there called Linea Niagara, which is a medical term. I’m related to the black line that comes on your belly when you’re pregnant. I Dawn’t know if you have, are familiar with that, but yeah.

Justin: [37:16] Anyway, I’m not, but my wife is.

Dr. Baker: [37:17] Yeah. Right. So take a look, take a look for the Linea Niagara, but I’m okay that she’s, you can also search mothers and medicine and find that piece that I did and then he, and Niagara, I really liked that one. Some of the more creative, shorter pieces like that and the one that you’re referring to on Kevin MDR, the ones that I’m really proud of for sure.

Justin: [37:37] Cool. Yeah. I want to link to these in the show notes for sure and share these with our listenership cause I I think that I want everyone to appreciate it the way that I had. So I wanna wrap this up here in a minute, Dawn, and I really appreciate your time. So in, in closing, I want to ask this question whether it’s, you know, professionally or personally, you’re somebody who has gone through like a lot of, I would say interesting and different challenges, nd also like all the normal challenges of being a physician. So I’m curious to know like a time when you, you were facing a significant challenge or you had to make a very difficult decision and in the midst of that you are able to sort of, you know, press through. There’s a lot of things that you’ve pushed through, whether it was like being uncomfortable before asking you about that sabbatical or pushing through with a brain tumor. Like take us to a time when you were in the midst of pushing through and kind of reflecting on your circumstances and thinking, you know, this is really difficult but this is a really worthwhile thing. And something that I’m glad that I’m pushing. Yeah.

Dr. Baker: [38:36] You know, that the idea of having challenges in your life. It’s something that in my family that my husband and I just talk about all the time and how important it is and how there are people that kind of go through this life just coasting and Dawn’t ever really have anything super challenging. Those are the times that you really learn more about yourself but also about other people and about life. Yeah, I mean I Dawn’t know that I can pick one thing and be like, okay, this is the most difficult thing or the hardest time. But I will say that, oe thing that we haven’t talked about as far as a challenge that I’m so glad that I pushed through and did was my issues with infertility and they are related to the tumor that I had because I had surgical resection of my pituitary.

Dr. Baker: [39:34] I’m left with no pituitary function or very little pituitary function in the background. And so I do take a lot of different medications related to that and it severely impacts my fertility. And so when I wanted to start a family, which was initially how I, I figured out that I had that pituitary tumor in the beginning,I, ad to, you know, use fertility treatments. So they ended up just taking a really long amount of time, a lot of [inaudible] emotional resources, time, resources, financial resources, and talk about, you know, trying to navigate that with your practice. I’m trying to take time off to, to go everyday to get an ultrasound for two weeks straight to, you know, look at your ovaries or something like that. It’s really hard. And also you Dawn’t really know when you’re, you’re gonna have to have those procedures.

Dr. Baker: [40:26] It’s very unpredictable. So you’d be like, yeah, I can’t work in the O R tomorrow. Oh, well can you feel, can you get someone to fill it? You know, that kind of thing is really hard to do. But I did it. I, you know, kept on pressing. I, hd to have help as far as like third party, haing someone objective talk to me. Like I had a therapist for a while during that period of time trying to figure out like what is my stopping point on fertility treatments. And I think that that’s a really hard thing for people that undergo that and also just marital issues with that. It’s, it’s really hard to navigate a relationship when you’re trying to have a baby in this weird medical technology way. But I’m really, really so glad that we pushed through on that. We didn’t give up and it took three years and a lot of resources as I said, but we had a child and I cannot imagine my life any different than it is now as far as like, you know, having my, my kid that’s about to turn four. I love it. We, we love our little family and that one is definitely my most favorite

Justin: [41:34] Challenge to have pushed through, I guess. Well that sounds amazing, Dawn. Thank you very much for sharing that and thank you for joining us today on the anesthesia success podcast. Absolutely. Thank you so much. Hey Justin here. This may shock you to learn, but I am actually not a fulltime podcast. I also run a financial planning company called quantified planet where I work closely with anesthesia and pain docs to build and implement customized financial plans. If you’re interested in working with a financial planner who knows many of the ins and outs of your profession, shoot me an email or head on over to quantify planning.com for more information. If you’re a resident or fellow, I can also offer you a free student loan analysis if you’re interested, but there might be a waiting list, so check out the link over there and to see if you’re interested in learning more about the topics we discussed today. Head over to anesthesia, success.com to join our community, residents and attendings and others to ask a question or get more free resources. If and only if you liked this episode, please leave us a review and subscribe. Thank you very much for listening to the anesthesia success podcast.

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