I Don’t Want to Earn My Stripes

Bye Bye Negative Thought #3:

“I have to suffer in order to be relevant.”

Recently when being introduced, the MC shared that they had experienced severe burnout at least 2 times so far in their career and said, “Dr. Errin is a life coach for physicians in burnout, but she’s so young and just wait when you've been through it a few times.”

As part of my work on my business, I recently reached out to a colleague coach to share about my practice working with fellow doctor moms who want to create a sustainable work/life balance and ask for their help. They responded to me that four years in medical practice was just not enough time for other doctors to respect me. “You have to put in your time, earn your stripes.”


I don’t think we need to burn out multiple times or stick out a job in which we’re miserable for 20 years just to earn other doctors’ respect. Instead of putting younger doctors down, we should be saying, “Hey kid - don’t go the way I went. Let’s create a better way.”

I went through med school. I was a grade A resident. I am smart, driven and ambitious. And I now I realize that I want a life outside of medicine. If “earning my stripes” means “missing my kids’ childhoods, not connecting with my spouse, and being completely burned out and miserable for 30 years,” you can forget it.

There’s a quote from A League of Their Own that says, “It’s the hard that makes it great.” That is the premise of medical training. But here’s the thing: it would be fine if “hard” was just a short stretch of time. For example, when you’re in med school you were on a hard rotation for a few weeks - but then you knew it would be over and you’d move into something else, where there was a little breathing room.

But when is the “hard” ever over in medicine?

  • When you’re on vacation?

  • When you retire?

  • When you become an administrator?

  • When you quit?

A recent study found that if doctors are doing a passion project during just 20% of their work time, that was enough to negate burnout. The passion project might involve performing a certain procedure, working with a certain disease state or with a certain population type. Just 20% of time on the part of their job they loved the most made the other 80% tolerable.

We need to find a new way to create careers for doctors that aren’t miserable.

The change starts with us.

It starts with us getting clear on what we want and asking for it. If our employer won’t give it to us, we can find one that will.

That’s why I became a coach: to empower my fellow doctor moms to create sustainable work/life balances. It CAN be done. And if we don’t ask - if we don’t demand - that medicine enable us to be doctors AND parents, then it’s our fault if nothing changes.

If you’re ready to create a sustainable work/life balance, let’s talk on a free colleague-to-colleague call. Schedule HERE.