Physician Take Back Your Practice - STOP acting like a Good Resident

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Most people believe that your medical education sets you up to be a successful practicing physician.

Unfortunately that is not true.

Today's 63% physician burnout rate should give us some clue, that our traditional medical education does not guarantee a successful practicing physician.

Investing your 20's to complete the slog through medical school, residency and fellowship does produce two consistent outcomes.

1) You learn the bare minimum to practice in your specialty.
I say bare minimum because no one graduates from the education process completely capable of practicing independently - especially with the work hour restrictions of today's residency programs. The breadth of the knowledge base in any specialty is so large now and yet the number of available teaching hours within residency programs has been cut by 1/3 compared to residencies before work hour restrictions were put in place.

2) You are also taught - and subconsciously conditioned - to be a good resident.

The complete medical education process takes from 7 to 16 years. At the end of that marathon, everyone who survives is programmed to be a great resident.

  • Fortunately for the industrial practice of medicine, great residents make compliant employees.

  • Unfortunately for the graduating physician, the same conditioning sets us up for burnout in the first place - especially since 73% of physicians become employees these days.


Residency is not about success in your future practice.

It is a pure survival contest.

Our only goal is to make it through the process - by any means possible. And you don't have to get there all in one piece. You can be missing 1 eye and 3 fingers off your left hand, as long as you can drag yourself across that finish line. After all, what do they call the person who graduates last from their medical school class?

Here is some of the psychological conditioning of a good resident:

      • The patient comes first
      • Do what you're told
      • Color inside the lines
      • Stay on the tracks / with the program
      • Passive acceptance
      • Learned helplessness
      • Imposter syndrome
      • Delayed gratification
      • Never show weakness - never do anything to make anyone think you don't have what it takes
      • Keep your head down and work harder

And if that's not enough of a setup for burnout, a significant percentage of your faculty/attendings will model burnout for you perfectly.


I went through the exact same conditioning process myself as a resident back in the 1990s. I drank every ounce of  the Kool-Aid and became the quintessential big, white, alpha male, gunner resident. It took me years to recover and develop a more functional relationship with my career.

And I've devoted the last 14 years of my life to help my fellow physicians recognize and recover from this programming.


IF YOU ARE A RESIDENT - keep doing whatever it takes to complete your education and graduate into the Free World. 

If you are no longer a resident I encourage you to stop acting like one!

What nearly every resident fails to appreciate is the end of this survival contest.

Graduation is a complete release into true and unadulterated freedom.

You are now free to build your practice or take any job, anywhere in the world, in any other Healthcare System, even in any other industry besides medicine. You are finally free.

Yet what do most graduates do?

Take a W-2 Employee position as a clinician inside a large employer where you are neither an owner or part of the leadership team.
73% of US physicians are rank and file employees now.

Your new job description resembles your role as a resident almost perfectly. It is a structure you are very familiar with. It operates by the same unwritten rules above.

Even though it's stacked against your ability to create a practice of meaning and purpose - it is within the comfort zone of a resident. 

Logo2To rise above your assigned position as Worker Bee / cog in the machine / RVU generating unit - you must stop being such a good resident as soon as you graduate from the medical education process. 

  • If you choose to be an employee, let us show you how to push back against "the way we do things around here" and carve out enough wiggle room to take back your practice. You can build in enough weekly satisfaction and meaning that you never doubt your choice to become a Lightworker back in the day.

  • Let us teach you the 7 missing skills sets of the medical education process. These are the tools for practice success and a means to burnout-proof your career. 

  • And join us in our support community of like-minded doctors on the same weekly journey.


Together we can defend the Practice of Medicine and your own personal health and well-being as a physician in these difficult times.



What is the first change you would make to begin taking back your practice?



Tags: resident burnout, stop physician burnout