“Are you bored yet?”
I can remember my old boss asking the question, a few years into my new job as a medical consultant.
How could I have been bored? I was doing what I had always aspired to do, in the city I loved and grew up in, and of course I was being well paid to do it.
But I was. Bored.
The initial excitement of completing my training and of setting up my own practice had waned, and the reality and daily grind of clinical practice was beginning to take its toll. I was keen for a new challenge.
But what else can a doctor do? Medical training is largely vocational. The brotherhood of medicine tends to frown upon those who betray our doctrine. Of course I knew a few doctors who had either left medicine altogether or who had branched out into other areas. None of the options I had seen my collegaues avail of seemed ideal ; working for pharma, working in the financial sector, consulting, full time writing, comedy, film making. The options for a doctor experiencing a mid-life crisis, therefore, seemed limited.
So I took up triathlon. I learned how to bake bread. I grew a beard.
Then along came Twitter.
Twitter introduced me to doctors who had ventured outside the narrow silo’s of our profession – entrepreneurs, geeks, and writers & poets from around the world. I met people from outside medicine keen to improve health – patients, technology entrepreneurs, designers, architects, mathematicians, physicists, philanthropists. All of a sudden my mind was opened to a world outside medicine and of almost endless possibilities for what I might be able to do with myself.
Either directly, of indirectly as a result of ideas I have been exposed to or people I have initially met on Twitter some amazing possibilities began to open up for me and as a result;
I became aware of and attended 3 amazing medical innovation conferences ( TEDMED in Washington, Millenial Medicine in Texas and Doctors2.0 in Paris) and have initiated and helped organise 3 medical conferences of my own.
By harnessing the power of like minded professionals around the world, I have transformed the way in which I learn. Twitter allows me to learn on an ongoing basis in a way that is truly collaborative and dynamic and with a resonance that makes information stick. I have also have also made new friends from around the world (that’s not supposed to happen over the age of 40 apparently).
I now write a regular blog and write a regular column for a medical newspaper.
I have become a medical advisor for a number of health technology companies. In doing so, I have been exposed to the amazing energy and vibrancy of medical entrepreneurs (like John Brownlee of Vidscrip, Paul McCarthy of Fullhealth, and Jim Joyce of VSnap, and John Dineen of Pubble). Its good to be around people who are not afraid to fail.
I have travelled to a number of countries as a medical speaker.
I have learned how to use video technology for patient education and how this technology may actually help humanise doctors improve patient engagement.
Each venturing out suggested another new possibility and choice, an as a result my life is invariably richer and more fulfilled.
Exciting as it all has been (and continues to be), each of these forays has somehow brought me back full circle. Stepping outside medicine for a while, and looking back on my job from a different perspective, I have rekindled some of the enthusiasm I had for medicine as a medical student.
As for boredom? I don’t have time.