Future Proof Docs - Choose Better Life


Welcome to another installment in the Future Proof Docs series. As a reminder, this is a series of posts highlighting physicians who excel at something outside of medicine and care enough to share their passions with us. Today I want to introduce Choose Better Life - a certified life coach and physician who helps people make better choices to live simply and live well. I hope you will enjoy this Q&A.  

When and why did you decide to become a physician?

My 8th Grade Science teacher was fantastic. He taught us anatomy and helped us with all sorts of projects from experiments with cigarette-smoking goldfish to various surveys of genetic traits. Then he disappeared and we had a cranky sub for a few months. School just wasn’t the same without him.

When he returned, he explained that he had received a pancreas transplant and that behind his surgical mask (decorated with stickers, of course), he was as good as new.

The seed was planted, and for a few years I aspired to become a transplant surgeon. After learning more about the specialty, it became clear that it wasn’t a great fit, but I still wanted to help others in a career that would be mentally and physically challenging.

After volunteering in an emergency department in college, I knew it was the place for me. Working closely with patients, with a team of trusted colleagues, and with a steady stream of the unknown coming through the door, the adrenaline was palpable and the possibilities were endless. I felt like I was home.

[FPMD: "Cigarette-smoking goldfish"...  I am definitely interested in how that one turned out.  We all have that one special person who inspired us to take up the stethoscope. Did you ever contact your 8th grade science teacher and let him know how big of an inspiration he was to you? Could make for a great conversation. Truth be told, I considered ER as a possible specialty early on in medical school. But it didn't take long into my first rotation before I realized that I was HORRIBLE at juggling multiple tasks simultaneously. Not sure who was the luckier one - me or the field of Emergency Medicine.]

Why your specialty?

This is mostly answered above, and I love that Emergency Medicine has a bit of everything: patient interaction, procedures, a flexible schedule, collaboration with other specialties so there’s constant teaching and learning, and the opportunity to be useful anywhere.

[FPMD: "Is there a doctor on the plane?!" I've definitely fantasized about playing the hero before I got into radiology. ]

When and why did you start your blog?

Over the past few years, I’ve been frustrated by the evolution of healthcare into a morass of documentation and rules, and with so much focus on sickness and paperwork rather than wellness. Medicine reimburses for tests and procedures, but not so much for compassion and education, which are what most patients really need.

I realized that while many patients wish for a magic pill, no such pill exists. Even if we can treat hypertension or diabetes, it won’t truly help them if they still suffer from an abusive marriage, stress from an insecure or dangerous job and/or unstable finances. Life is more than just the sum of its parts, and if one area stinks, it will bleed over into the others.

Life coaching is the perfect opportunity to help people focus on whichever areas they would like to improve.

[FPMD: Intriguing. I've always thought of "sickness" and "wellness" as two sides of the same coin. But it is true. You aren't "well" just because you're not "sick." Life coaching is a big task though. I'll stick to just the financial bits.]

What is the biggest challenge running your blog while being a doc at the same time?  How do you deal with it?

Prioritizing is important. It’s essential to get to know and support the online community, and I can spend all day reading wonderful posts and tweets and realize that I haven’t done any of my own work yet.

[FPMD: Yes! Prioritization is definitely something I struggle with. Often it seems like EVERYTHING is important and as a result, nothing is important. I may be seeking out your life coaching advice soon...]

What are the top 3 life lessons you have for FPMD readers?

  1. Simple is usually better.
  2. If the answer isn’t clearly YES!!!, then it should be no.
  3. Sleep and sunshine make most things better.

[FPMD: Great general guidelines to live life by. I personally struggle to strike a balance between simple and comprehensive in my daily clinical work.  For example, obtaining patient consent before a procedure.  And there are plenty of things in life that I feel "meh" about.]

Give me 3 blog posts that FPMD readers can visit to get the “core” of what you stand for. 

  1. Say Yes To Your Priorities
  2. Navigating Your Emergency Department Visit
  3. Why I Don’t Mind Being A Terrible Gardener

[FPMD: I've never gardened a day in my life and definitely not planning to visit an emergency room anytime soon. But I definitely want to start saying "Yes" more to my priorities. Although as I have indicated above, I need some serious help in determining what counts as a "priority"... Thank you Julie for coming on as a guest.  Stay tuned for our next Future Proof Doc!]

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Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.