A Leap of Truth
This is dedicated to all of those on the precipice of choosing between your norm versus your actual truth. Not who you project but who you are when no one else is looking.
People often use the term “Leap of Faith” in their motivational language. Wikipedia defines a leap of faith as “an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved.”
Well I would like to coin a new term- a Leap of Truth. This is an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome can be or may already be proven, but one is too damn scared to admit it and step toward it. People often ask me what led me to take such a huge risk by leaving a very well paying job as a primary care physician working for one of the “best” hospital systems in the country. The answer is very simple- I took a leap of truth. I knew from the moment I filled out a coding/billing form in my residency clinic after seeing ten patients in one half-day session that this type of primary care medicine was not going to be my truth. For nine to ten years or so I struggled to put my truth into words- never mind being close to putting it into action. I could not even define it…yet. I just knew that 10 minute visit, impersonal assembly line medicine was not going to fit in the definition. I knew that spending a majority of my day trying to prove my worth to some 3rd party insurer or government agency was not going to be part of it either. I just wanted to do what I dedicated my education and life to- taking care of my patients to the best of my ability. Everything else was just useless.
So one winter night in December 2013 I was sitting on my iPad trying to figure out Twitter. After being on there for ten minutes or so, someone I followed retweeted a tweet from Dr. Josh Umbehr at AtlasMD in Wichita KS. It read something like this: “Imitrex injection for migraines 200 and something dollars in local ER. $9.10 in our clinic. #DPC” So I said to myself “what the hell is DPC and why I have I never heard of it?” Within 5 minutes I hit reply all and asked exactly that. Within minutes Josh messaged back and said he would be happy to set up a call so that I could learn more. So that next night I sat on a call with him and realized I was getting closer to defining my truth. My truth was and is Direct Primary Care. After researching the model and the labyrinth that we call American health policy for almost a year, I knew that I had to leave my norm and take a Leap of Truth.
Of course I had a lot of doubters, naysayers, skeptics and flat-out demoralizers tell me I was going to fail. Some of my favorites were “This isn’t Kansas…this is Massachusetts” and “This will never work in Massachusetts.” My all time favorite was when i told an elderly patient- one who had just switched to me after his prior doctor of 20 or so years had retired- that I too was leaving. As an employed doctor I was not allowed to do this, but I felt that it was the appropriate and right thing to tell him given his age and uncertainty in regards to his future care. So I explained the model of DPC and told him he was more than welcome to come with me if he so desired. His response upon learning I wanted to work for cash rather than government/insurers was “what are you some kind of greedy Jew or something?” You can not make this stuff up. My response was with a chuckle as I said “yeah I guess if you believe taking the biggest professional risk of my life and putting myself into a mountain of debt to do it defines a greedy Jew, then yeah I am a greedy Jew through and through and proud of it.” Needless to say, but this kind gentleman among many others did not come with me to my new practice. However, I persisted walking through the mire because I knew in my heart it was the right thing, regardless of what others had to say.
Those months from April of 2014 to December 2014 were some of the hardest months of my life. I was basically working two jobs. I was seeing a full load of patients act my old job and meanwhile trying to build a new practice. God only knows what my blood pressure was during those months, but I look back with not one regret. Sometimes doing the right thing is just really freakin hard, but once you find your truth you will find that there is nothing more comfortable….not even the norm you have grown so accustomed to.
My favorite television show of all time is Lost. Yes, some people hated it and some people loved it, but few were in between. The irony of this is that the whole series was really about the “in-between”- science vs faith, reality vs destiny, life vs death. It wasn’t about polar bears being on a tropical island. I have attached a video clip that shows the ongoing debate on the show between Jack Shephard as a man of science and John Locke as a man of faith. (Sorry for the length and ad that pops up in the middle.) So I guess the message here is that there is something between faith and science and between life and death, but it does not have to be a painful purgatory. It can be a truth in which you find peace. Do not settle for being a slave or pawn to the “system”. You put yourself through college, medical school, residency, debt, etc etc. When you think about the doctor you are vs the doctor you hoped to be you may realize that the truth is somewhere in the middle. So stop looking at DPC or some other career change as a Leap of Faith, but look at it rather as a Leap of Truth- your truth and only yours. No one can take that away from you no matter how hard they may try.