Christi Hay: A Doctor’s Standard Career Path – And The Path I Chose (Transcript)

Christi Hay

Here is the full transcript of pediatrician Christi Hay’s TEDx Talk: A Doctor’s Standard Career Path – And The Path I Chose at TEDxFoggyBottom conference. 

Listen to the MP3 Audio: A doctor’s standard career path – and the path I chose by Christi Hay at TEDxFoggyBottom

Christi Hay – Pediatrician

I’m a doctor. We doctors are not typically considered risk takers.

Our path is pretty safe. We go to college, take pre-med school courses, some would go to graduate school and get a master’s degree, and then complete four years of medical school. After medical school, there is residency fellowship for three to seven years. Once all that training is done, most of us go and work in a hospital for a provider, like Kaiser, or in private practice.

Like I said, pretty safe path. But I left this path for something different. And I would like to share that journey with you today.

I followed this blueprint with every intention on being a lifelong employee of a hospital. I love to teach. I have a master’s in public health, in health behavior, health education. I love my specialty – pediatrics.

So, I thought the best fit for me would be a physician in a pediatric teaching hospital. But after eight years, something was missing. So I made the switch to private practice. In private practice, I love the families, but the business of medicine, not so much.

Honestly, medical school and residency did not prepare me for the business of medicine. I can diagnose and treat diseases; no problem. Give me a sick kid coughing, difficulty breathing, the parents in the corner about to faint because they don’t know what to do, I’m all over that.

My brain clicks on, I’m diagnosing the problem, determining the best course of action, but private practice was more than that. There were office policies and procedures that just didn’t make sense to me.

Insurance policies with different formularies and benefits, office personnel that just didn’t know what they were doing. It ultimately made my workday a nightmare. Imagine waking up everyday to start a nightmare. Who does that? I did for three years. To make matters worse, I was always getting in trouble.

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And I have to say, I am not a troublemaker. But, I became that person over the years that was asking questions about things that just didn’t make sense to me. Like, why did it take four weeks to return a school form when I can complete it in four minutes during the visit? Or why did it take 20 minutes to bring a family back to an empty exam room when I could do it in two?

Or why did a mother, calling to find out what food to feed her child with diarrhea, need to come into the office for a visit? And why was a medical assistant who could not properly count respiratory rate and heart rate not fired? And why was the schedule done in a way that I must enter every room and say, “I’m so sorry for your wait.” Trouble I stayed in it and it just added to my nightmare experience at work.

Then one of my girlfriends gave me my aha moment. We were chatting on the phone about work when she simply said: “You were not listening to the voice in your head. The voice is telling you to pick up and move, but you are comfortable where you are, but miserable, so you need to make a choice. No one is making you stay there but yourself.”

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