EP 81: Med School Life Financial Independence

Financial security is extremely important and can give you a lot more power to take a stand for yourself.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang, our featured guest, learned the significance of both financial independence and education in childhood, learning that “wealth is not just what you make but what you keep”.  Our conversation spans from her childhood, into her medical school years and beyond. Astonishingly, she began her path towards financial independence in medical school when she purchased her first investment property. Her money mindset has allowed her to save, invest and secure her financial future and freedom and now she coaches others on how to do the same.

Connect with our guest: 

Dr. Chiang can be best reached on her website: www.growyourwealthymindset.com. There you can sign up for a consultation call with her or look at other resources. All the her social media links (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) are also located on her webpage.


Podcast Transcript:

Dr. JB: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Hope4Med podcast. I am your host, Dr. JB, and today’s featured guest is Dr. Elizabeth Chiang. She is an ophthalmologist, oculoplastic surgeon, and life coach. She primarily works with healthcare professionals to work through issues of burnout, as well as master their money mindset so they can build wealth and practice medicine on their own terms. Welcome to the show.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Thank you so much for this opportunity, having me so excited to be here.

Dr. JB: And I’m very excited to learn about your story. So, let us start from the beginning, Please, share with my listener, your origin story.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Oh, so it kind of goes back way back to med school. So, I did the MSTP medical science training program, which is an eight-year MD PhD program. And during the grad school years, you know, in retrospect, I think that was the first time I realized I experienced some burnout. And so, I approached burnout back then by thinking, okay, I don’t want to work forever, I don’t have to work for someone else forever, so what can I do to kind of speed up, essentially, financial independence?

And this is before people talked about FIRE or Financial Independence Retire Early. But I started learning about personal finance investing. I started reading in the Motley Fool, I read Rich Dad, Poor. I actually started getting involved in real estate investing. I actually flipped two houses while I was a med student.

Dr. JB: Wow.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. I really took like a lot of action. And then actually, during third and fourth year of medical school, things kind of settled down a little bit more. The third year of medical school, actually, I have to say was probably the worst year of my life. You spend the entire year trying to like prove yourself as smart so that people will write you good recommendation letters so that you can get into whatever residency, and it was really kind of mind Drama for me in the entire time having done the MD PhD. You know, I took four years out of med school to do the research portion. And so, when I went back to fellowship, I had to kind of relearn the first two years of med school and learn this game essentially that their year of med school really was,

Dr. JB: What do you mean? What do you mean by that game?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah, like really, I felt like it was all about just kind of impressing your intending and again, that’s how you got a good grade, and then you needed that good grade in order to have good recommendation letters and have that for your transcript or when you’re applying to residency. And so, if you want to go to a competitive residency, it was really about getting those good grades.

And so, there was kind of two ways you could do it. I mean, you could score really well on the test…And I was never a great standardized test taker. I mean, I did well enough but definitely not like top percentile, especially when you get when you compare yourself to a whole bunch of other med students who are all really great test takers in general

But I did really love ophthalmology and went to ophthalmology residency and did actually get in my first-choice ophthalmology residency. And so, I kind of put that stuff aside. I went to Chicago to Northwestern for residency, and I really spent residency just focusing on learning the craft of medicine. I really did love residency, and I did fellowship microplastics and I love my fellowship.

So, those were all good times. And I continued to just invest in the stock market, but I wasn’t really doing real estate investing there. I took my first job as an attending, and things were good for a little while. I mean, there’s definitely a learning curve when you’re first on your own, but then I did get a sense of kind of something missing and I did want to get back into real estate investing and then things didn’t quite work out at the practice that I joined as I would’ve liked.

And I decided to go back home to Cleveland, Ohio, which is also…So I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and then I went to Case Western Reserve in Cleveland for my MD PhD program.

And that’s where I had done my prior real estate investing. So, I really decided, I wanted to go back home, get back into the real estate investing and also be… my parents haven’t actually moved from Cleveland during that time, but I still had a lot of friends in Cleveland and so just well to reconnect.

And so, I returned back to Cleveland. I did start investing in real estate again. I did unfortunately take a job at a hospital where I was on call 24/7. It was a level one trauma hospital. I was the only aplastic specialist, so I had to take all the aplastic call, which isn’t necessarily heavy, but there is quite a bit…And what it really came down to is that even when I was on vacation, I wasn’t off. Even when I was on vacation, the residents were calling me, asking me how to deal with situations. And when I put in for a two-week vacation to Europe, it was initially denied because the question was like, “Well, who’s going to cover call?”

Dr. JB: Wow.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: So yeah, there were issues there. So, I basically faced burnout all over again. And that’s when I first found out about coaching, was during the pandemic. There was a Leverage and Growth Summit, which is actually happening at this time of year in March as we’re recording this. And that’s where I first learned about coaching. I did start getting back into real estate investing, and I took another course in real estate investing, which actually really worked on mindset as well. And so, I got coached. I listened to the Life Coach School podcast; I joined their self-coaching scholars. I got coached by coaches at the Life Coach School. And then it was the year the pandemic, so I actually had a lot of extra time.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: So, I decided to just do life coach certification as a way to really kind of learn the tools of coaching much better. And I just really found that I loved coaching. Because, you do a lot of peer coaching as part of the coach certification program. And I do have a strong kind of money background in terms of all that real estate investing, as well as the personal finance I learned before. I am lucky that my parents did kind of teach us a little bit about money growing up. My mom actually is a CPA, a Certified Public Accountant. And when I was in high school, I actually worked part-time as an assistant to—not her, but another accountant. So, I kind of learned some number of crunching and dollars of money, I guess, that way as well.

And then, with my real estate investments I had made LLCs and treated it like a business. And so, it really seemed to make sense to help other people, other healthcare professionals really work towards their money mindset. And I also just find that if you’re at a point where you’re not as tied to your paycheck, like you have passive streams of income coming in, then you are in a stronger place to negotiate your job situation, right?

So, I was definitely in a… I wanted to come back to Cleveland, and with the hospital, I did actually start to negotiate with working part-time, but of course they wanted me to take the 24/7 call. And so, in the end, I decided, like, this isn’t a good fit and I chose to leave and I could do that and I actually chose to take a part-time job where I was making a lot less and I could do that because of my investments and my passive income.

Dr. JB: I cannot wrap my head around the concept of a 24/7 call every single day.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah.

Dr. JB: Even if you don’t get called ever, right? But you always have to have your phone available, right? Every time it rings, you’re thinking, “Is it the hospital?” That by itself must have been so draining.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: When I saw the phone ringing and there was a resident attached to it or a text from a resident, it was kind of a like, “Okay, how emergent is this going to be?” Because, unfortunately like for oculoplastic, it’s not as much of an emergency as a gunshot wound. So, there have been times where I was at the hospital bumped again and again and again, because some gunshot wound comes in, which, again, is definitely more important than someone with eye trauma that needs their eye trauma taken care of or orbit trauma taken care of. But at the same time, like, yeah, I’m just spending all day waiting for overtime and…

Dr. JB: Yeah.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: …and it can just take up your life. And this is honestly a place where mindset really comes in too, because for some people, just, you know, some of the clients I’ve coached, just being on call, even if it’s not a busy call, even if they’re not called, like really stresses them out.

And I did actually learn where it’s like, okay, this is just life. And I’m on call all the time. I’ll get contacted, but I can deal with it and I’ll deal with it to the best of my capability, to the least amount of disruption in my life, but still that the patient’s obviously taking care of.

Dr. JB: Can we revisit these 24-hour calls again? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it. So, sometimes when you are on call, you have to say within a certain radius of the hospital at all times, right? You need to be able to show up within 30 minutes or an hour. Was that part of your contract with this 24/7/365 call?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: No. So, I mean, I did like to go on vacation. It was just that I was fielding calls even when I was on vacation. And so there were times where I put in on vacation, I’m like, “Okay, I’m…” Actually, there was a time where I put in for vacation and my actual direct supervisor called me. She was like, okay, this patient came in or this patient’s coming in, you’re going to have to take care of it. And I’m just like, “I’m on vacation, I’m in Florida.” And she’s like, “Well, you’re still going to have to take care of it. I’m going to have the resident call you.”

Dr. JB: What?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. I mean, that was a major reason for leaving. Was that before I took the job and agreed to the 24/7 call, I did actually talk about, well, what about when I go on vacation? And they didn’t have someone who’s dedicated to taking an oculoplastic call.

So basically, they said, “Well, it’s better for us that we have called 48 weeks of the year, someone to cover 40 weeks of the year, the times that you’re out, we’ll figure it out like we’ve had to figure it out before,” and that sounded completely reasonable. But now that I was hired and essentially, she felt like she had handcuffs on me, right? That it’s like, okay, now you work here, you have to do what I say.

Dr. JB: I’ve had situations where I’ve worked in places where the specialist goes on vacation and we just don’t have that service here. So, even if I’m in a Trauma Centre, right? But for instance, my neurosurgeon, if I had one neurosurgeon, he’s on vacation, guess what? This person that has this intracranial bleed, we can’t take care of you here. We have to find some other place because we don’t have those resources. So, I feel like that could have been an option versus interrupting you when you’re on vacation, no?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah, certainly. And I am in Cleveland, Ohio, there are literally two other hospitals with oculoplastic specialists, which have residents and right attendings. Like it’s, it’s not like I’m really the only one, for miles around.

Dr. JB: Yeah. So, I just don’t understand, again, I don’t know if I’m ever going to wrap my head around that. So, I apologize. Just go ahead and keep it moving, but wow.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Well, it’s funny because what happened? Well, I left and so they now have nobody and they’ve had no one since I left.

Dr. JB: Exactly. So, anyhow, all right. So, let’s go back. Let’s actually explore this money mindset a little bit more. So, you kind of started developing this money mindset when you decided that you were going to embark on this fire plan, right?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah.

Dr. JB: You were in grad school. What did you get your PhD in?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: In neuroscience.

Dr. JB: All right. And this is like, the middle of your PhD is when you were like, I need to figure out how to retire early.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. I mean, I had started kind of just learning about personal finance because in being in a MD PhD program, I actually did have a stipend. I was married. My husband did have a job and because the MD PhD program is on average eight years and in Cleveland, Ohio, which is a fairly low cost of living, especially in terms of housing. So, a lot of the grad students did buy houses. So, I did start actually kind of learning about personal finance in terms of like buying a house instead of renting.

And so, that’s when I first started reading about just general kind of personal finance. And then I started reading kind of more about investing from reading the general personal finance, but as I read that, and then as I was going through the graduate school portion, then I started kind of accelerating this idea of like, “Okay, yes, I get that you invest so that you can retire when you’re 65, what can you do to make that money grow faster so that you can do it even sooner?”

Dr. JB: Yeah. Okay. And so, walk me through the flipping of these two houses?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: So, there was the crash at the real estate market. And I, so I read, had read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and I started just reading all of the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” books. And there was one book I think that actually just kind of gave examples of people who did different real estate deals and how, how much money they made. So, Rich Dad, Poor Dad actually had a, you know, they went around the country giving these talks.

So, went to the free talk. Of course, the free talk sells a one or two-day seminar for few $100. And so, I went ahead and bought it there. And of course, that one or two-day seminar tells you get yourself like financially independent through real estate by taking our expensive real estate courses.

And I mean, they’re very good. Early on, they start having you call your credit card companies to increase your credit line so that you can buy their courses at the end. And I was sold. So I, as a grad student, med student on a stipend of $20,000 a year, put down $18,000 on a credit card in order to take these classes on real estate. And I’m just like, “Okay, I’m going all in. I am going to make my money back.” And I was like, “I have to make this money back.”

And so, I did. I went to the courses. The courses, honestly, weren’t that great. But I started going to all the real estate investment groups in the area, my county, the two counties that were neighbouring started really talking to a lot of real estate investors, kept up with people who I met during those courses and ended up actually taking other real estate course where they had a money-back guarantee.

And he was just like, “Look, you’re already doing all this work.” I was trying to do wholesale. That was the first class I took because that doesn’t require money to invest in the actual real estate. The idea of wholesaling is that you get a property under contract, and then you sell that contract to a real estate investor, and then you get like an assignment fee and you can make like 2, 3, $5,000 per assignment fee.

So that’s how I started because obviously, I didn’t have a bunch of capital. But Bob Campana, he said, “Okay, you’re already doing all the work, but if you work with me and you don’t make your money back, then there’s a money-back guarantee. So, you’ve got nothing to lose.” So, I was like, “Okay, you’re right.”

So, I took his course, and with his course, he has mentorship and I really think that’s important. And so I had his cell phone number and I could call him and run deals by him. And so, I ended up buying a house, you know, it’s been a while so number’s been rusty, but I want to say I bought the house for around $33,000, it was a three bedroom, two bath in the suburb, a neighbourhood that I would live in, and fixed it up, hired contractors. You know, this was all borrowed money that I was using. And I can’t remember how much I spent on fixing up. I did do work myself. I did the painting myself. I did the landscaping myself. I kind of did anything I could do myself, but it needed a new roof, it had, I got a new furnace, like totally redid the bathroom and kitchen, and then kind of like semi like, a half job in the other bathroom that was more okay. And then sold it and had a profit of about 20,000. So, that’s how I made that initial 18,000 back. And so now I was like, okay, now I’ve got to do it again so that I actually have some profit.

So I went and found another house, that one, I remember I bought it for $20,000, but it needed a lot more work. It was actually, I believe I put 80,000 in and ended up selling it for like 120.  So, I made less than 20,000 because there’s the closing costs and the realtor fees and things like that.

But maybe those numbers are a little off. I made just under 20,000, sold it for 120. So maybe I put 60 in, but at any rate…

So each of those processes obviously was several months. So, I did was that towards the end of grad school, I finished grad school a little off cycle. So instead of going back to med school right away, I took like a 8/9 months off.  And so, I did the first project during that time. And then I started the second house right before I was going back to med school and sold it during my third year of med school.

And then the fourth year of med school was definitely better, I had decided on ophthalmology. And then when I matched in ophthalmology, I was thrilled. So, then I kind of took a hiatus from real estate investing for the time being, but it taught me like how you can really create wealth and money.

Dr. JB: So, let’s explore what you mean by “money mindset.” What exactly do you mean by that when you use those terms?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. So, it’s really about how we think about money, and how we think about money starts very early and very young. So what did your parents tell you about money? Like what did your classmates tell you about money? So, I have to say like one thing is, I grew up in actually a very nice suburb on the east side of Cleveland, but we wore hand me downs. We were always told that we have to save for college and we didn’t get like… I remember some of my classmates, they got like for Hanukkah. So, the community I was in had a high percentage of Jewish people, that why I just talk about Hanukkah and stuff Christmas, but they would get like bicycles or tons of gifts. And  we would get something small, and we didn’t really celebrate the winter holidays quite to the extent, but even our birthdays, we would get maybe one gift, nothing cute.

And so, I kind of grew up with the sense that we didn’t have as much money as the people around us. And in retrospect, what I realized is that my parents really kind of taught us the meaning of a dollar and that you need to save for tomorrow. And I think those kinds of concepts actually were really helpful.

So I started babysitting, I don’t know, around 11 or 12, like my sister and I had side jobs throughout high school. If there was something like we wanted like a bike we’d actually have to come up with half of the money and then my parents would match the other half. So then we actually kind of really understood like how much things cost. We did get an allowance starting in middle school where… So middle school is when you could start first buying your lunches.

So, it was like, “Okay, you can buy your lunch and our allowance was basically enough money to buy lunch every day, or you can make your lunch out of leftovers or whatever we have in the house and then you can keep that money to buy whatever else you wanted.”

So, I tended to make my lunch so I could keep that money. And I would sometimes use that money for fun things like going out to the movies with friends. My number one thing I like to buy was actually books, but I ended up really saving a lot of that money, and learning how to save money, I think, was a really good skill to have as well.

But all those things, going back to your point about money mindset, I meant there was probably a little bit of a scarcity money mindset, in that, there was “money doesn’t grow on trees” type of a thing. But there was also empowerment of like you can create money, you can make money. Like how do you make money? How do you come up with money and how much do things cost and, you know what do you value? What are you going to spend your money on? You know, do you value like eating the school lunch and not packing your lunch? Or do you value like saving that money to use it for something else?

And we talk a lot about like, how much money…Well, actually, in the US, in western society, we don’t really talk about money in itself. We kind of show people how much money, we have by like what we spend on, right? Like, how nice is your car? How big is your house? Like, when someone ha as Louis Vuitton purse, they’re kind of showing off, like, I have money for this, right? But someone could have all those things, but not really have true wealth.

So there’s that dissociation, like we see someone who has a big house who is driving the BMW or the Tesla, who has all brand name, clothing, and has the expensive bags. And we think they’re rich, but they may actually have an even negative net worth.

Dr. JB: That’s right.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: You really don’t know.

Dr. JB: They just keep swiping their credit cards.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah.

So, when I talk about money mindset, I’m really talking about like all your thoughts about money and those thoughts about money is really what’s going to produce what results you have with your money, right? So, if you ever read The Millionaire Next Door, it really shows that a lot of millionaires are just kind of your everyday average people and they’re wearing like jeans, they’re not wearing designer clothing. I mean, they may have some designer clothing, but that’s not what they wear all the time. You know, they’re more comfortable drinking a beer than like whatever fancy $100,000 dollar bottle of wine, or what have you. And so, a lot of wealth is it’s not just what you make, it’s what you keep.

Dr. JB: That’s right. You know, it reminds me of another book, The Richest Man in Babylon. Did you read that one too?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. That’s a great one.

Dr. JB: That’s a classic. Yeah. I didn’t feel like every person should read this book because that’s really the basis of really all these financial service companies, if you read that book, you’re like, oh, this is where this all kind of came from.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. It is. And the sad part is like, we don’t get in financial education anytime, like during grade school, high school, college, right? Or any professional school. I mean, unless you’re actually becoming a financial advisor. Even if you study economics, I don’t think that actually teaches you anything about actual personal finances and investing.

Dr. JB: It’s all about supply and demand kind of stuff.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. But yeah. So, so now you are working part-time as an op. Are you still doing ophthalmology or are you mostly focused on surgery?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: So, currently, I’m actually not working as a physician. I recently left my previous private practice. And so, I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. It was a kind of an abrupt decision, but it was just, wasn’t quite a good fit.

Dr. JB: So, what made you decide to leave?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: It was not necessarily in my control but luckily, I practice what I preach. I have a healthy emergency fund, so financially, I’m doing fine. And I do have other assets, like I do have my real estate, which, you know? So I do have passive income from other sources as well. And I’m married and my husband works, and he’s a high school teacher, so not another physician, but there is still other income

Dr. JB: And you’re coaching also or not?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yes, and I’m coaching. Yes, I do have some income coaching as well, but a lot of the income I have from coaching, I kind of put back into the business because it’s really still in that growth phase. And so, I want to keep the business growing.

Dr. JB: So, do you think you’re going to go back? Are you going to look for another job as a physician, direct patient care physician, or what are your thoughts right now?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: So, what I’m really…So it’s only been about two, three weeks where I suddenly had this new I opportunity, one way to look at it, and of really thinking about, okay, what do I want? How do I want to practice? And so, I am looking at ways to practice, you know, what does it mean to practice in my own terms? What would I really like to do? And I think what that means is continue to work part-time, maybe really focusing on oculoplastic, instead of… I was doing general ophthalmology and oculoplastic, and that previous position was really more general ophthalmology than it was oculoplastic. And so, I would like to find something that’s really mostly oculoplastic. So, I’ve been in discussion with a few clinics. There’s actually a lot of demand. One thing though is I’ve decided that I’m not moving.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: My husband really likes his current position he’s tenured and he’s in a good place. And he actually is compensated fairly well being a teacher where he’s at now, and he’s got friends among his co-teacher and we came back to Cleveland for other reasons than just the job. And so, we have decided that we’re going to stay in Cleveland so I am looking at you know, there are maybe some potential other possibilities in Northeast Ohio, or even potentially just doing locums types of positions where I can work a week or two here or there to provide coverage for other practices. So, we’ll see.

Dr. JB: I mean, it’s a wide-open slate. Anything can happen. You can do anything you want to, you just have to decide what your ideal practice will be.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. And I think that’s something that a lot of us don’t think about, right? Like we have our position, we have our job and we think of…and maybe it’s like, “Oh, this is good enough.” Or “this is stable, you know, I don’t want to move. I want to stay just where I am.” But faced with the; what do you really want to do? How would you really like to practice? I don’t think a lot of us can really answer that. And right now, I’m finding that myself in that position of, yeah. How do I answer that? And so far, I think the answer is working part-time doing mostly oculoplastic, something with either zero or minimal call,

Dr. JB: I feel like you’ve enough call for a lifetime.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. And I think that there are ways to create that opportunity. And so that is what I’m looking for now.

Dr. JB: I mean, it’s like going back to childhood, right? When they say, what do you want to do when you grow up? And now you’re at this period in your life where you really can just think about: “What is it that I want to do when I grow up?”. But I think part of the reason why it’s so hard for us to really think about it is because we’re just so used to going through the motions, right?

We have this path that we need to do when we jump through this hoop and we jump through this hoop and then we work and then…But now, there’s no more structure. It’s this abstract reality that we find ourselves. And when we finish training and we’ve been in school for so long, at least 12 or more, right? And now it’s like, okay, now what do you do with this canvas?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: It’s so true. And actually, just like putting our own wants first, right? And I really think we’re ingrained in medical school, residency and fellowship that the patient comes first, right? Like, other people come first, your spouse comes first, your children come first, everyone comes first before you. And actually, we do need to put ourselves first to some time, like you can’t pour from an empty cup, you’ve got to fill yourself back up.

And I remember you know, there’s this kind of stigma like, “Oh, millennials, they don’t work hard. They’re just thinking of themselves.” And now I’m actually realizing it’s like, well maybe they’re really on to something. You’ve got to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. And it’s not just about working hard, right? Yes. You know, all of us physicians, we know how to work hard. We can work hard, but what is it that we really want? What are we getting out of working hard? And really asking ourselves, like, we’ve got this one life, right? And so one thing I’d like to talk a lot about is arrival fallacy. All through med school, we’re thinking: I’ll be better when we’re a resident, and when you’re resident, oh, I’ll be better when we’re a fellow, and when we’re a fellow, it’ll be better when we’re attending. And then you become attending, you’re kind of like, is this it? We want to be happy where we are now, and happiness is available to us now, and how do we make it available to us now?

So, even in my search for financial independence, I realized with the coaching is that yes, like it’s great to be financially independent and be able to say F you to anyone, like I don’t need your money, but at the same time, like you want to be happy on your path there. So there was a time where I was kind of like, I’m just going to put my nose to the grindstone, really invest, get all my capital so that I can get out as soon as possible.

But what I’ve realized is that even when you get to financial independence, there are people I know, physicians I know who basically are at financial independent, but they still don’t feel like they have enough. It’s all always like, well, what if? What the stock market crashes? What if such and such happens, like, way of laws changes? There’s always going to be these what-ifs.

So, if you can be secure in your situation and know that you can handle anything and be happy in the actual moment of now, that is really, I think, the real goal and how can I take another step to get closer to that every day?

Dr. JB: And so, and how can you be happy now?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. So, I mean, it’s really our thoughts that create our feelings and that’s what we say in coaching, and part of the realization I think is realizing, it’s like, yes, we want to be happy, but what does that really mean? There is a whole array of emotions out there and we actually want to have a human experience and we want to actually build to experience all the emotions. So, one of my favourite television shows is The Good Place. And so, a little bit of a spoil alert if you haven’t watched it. There’s a point during the show where they end up in heaven and they find that the people in heaven are all kind of like zombies almost because they, everything is just good, like good all the time.

And so, they’ve just kind of become mindless and you need the contrast, like what having something negative happen makes a positive, even more positive, right? If everything’s always positive and there’s no negative, then, I mean, you could just imagine someone who’s cool had a silver spoon, everything fed to them and had everything they wanted their entire life. Well, when faced with any adversity, they just crumble and don’t know what to do, right?

So, you actually want to have strength and you want to build to feel discomfort because that is going to allow you to grow in order to have those big wins. So happiness has to be balanced by some negative emotions in order for you to actually feel happiness, or joy or peace or any of those other positive emotions. If you don’t have the negative as a contrast, then the positive is really not so positive.

Dr. JB: And so, is it possible for you to be happy now? You know, given three weeks ago I was working and at the bedside as an ophthalmologist, even though I didn’t want to be an ophthalmologist, I wanted to do oculo surgery, and here I am three weeks later, can you be happy right now?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah, certainly. I mean, really, like I said, I get to choose right now, what I want to do, how do I want to practice? And I didn’t mind ophthalmology, it’s not like I disliked ophthalmology, but I really do love surgery. And that is, I think what I would miss if I did stop practicing. And so, then that tells me, it’s like, okay, well, how can I get it so I’m doing more surgery? Because I do think that that is where my real drive of wanting to practice medicine is. I even went back to high school biology. I just love doing all those dissections. And it is part of what I think kind of drew me into medicine, as well as somewhat the problem-solving aspects. And I know surgery is not necessarily so problem-solving. I do love doing most reconstructions, I think, partially because there’s problem-solving with the surgery, but that’s an aside.

But just in reality of being like, okay, I really get to sit and think about what I want and how to build that ideal life. And again, I kind of “did things right.” I have the emergency fund, I do have the passive income, so I don’t have to face like, okay, how am I going to pay for all my expenses. Those things are covered for the time being and for quite some time. And if I decide not to practice medicine anymore, then that is my choice. I don’t think that’s going to be the case, partially because of how abrupt this last job was. The last time I did surgery, I didn’t realize that was going to be the last time I did surgery at that surgery centre, so I do think I want to go ahead and practice medicine for at least a little bit more so I can savour doing surgery again.

Dr. JB: Well, I think locum is a great opportunity. I mean, I think that it would allow you to be able to do kind of what you want to do in terms of picking up jobs where you get to do mostly surgery and then you get to have your week or two when you’re on and then your time when you’re off, you’re not on call when you’re off.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: I mean, it depends on the locum. Some of the locum jobs, they do have you take call, but not when you’re off.

Dr. JB: Yeah. I mean, not when you’re off.

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Oh, not when you’re off, not when you’re off, but when you’re on. Yes, no, I’m not going back to 24/7 call, certainly. But yeah, I mean, there are definitely pluses to locums. And I spoke to a physician yesterday who’s been doing just locums for many years and really found a happy medium in doing that. And so some physicians were really happy just doing locums. But everything’s got as pluses or minus. We talk about the grass is always greener on the other side. And I heard this other saying, “But the water bill is probably higher too,” so.

Dr. JB: I like that. I like that. So, if my listener wanted to learn more about what you’re doing, how can they get in touch with you?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Thanks for asking. So, the best way is probably to go to my website, which is www.growyourwealthymindset.com. From there, they can either sign up for a consultation call to work with me or look at other resources. It also has links to all my social media. I have a YouTube channel with videos that I put out every week and sometimes more often. And I’m also on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all the links are right on my webpage.

Dr. JB: Perfect. So, in closing, do you have any pearls of wisdom for my listener?

Dr. Elizabeth Chiang: Yeah. So, if you are not where you want to be financially, you really want to take a look at your money mindset because your thoughts about money is what’s giving you the results of where you are now and with a physician income…Pediatricians always like to say like, “Oh, I’m just a paediatrician, so I don’t make as much,” but even with a paediatrician income, like that is still way more than the average income of someone in the United States. And yes, we do have our own obstacles as physicians, having a delay of when we actually first start making money and all the debt that we take on in our training, but it is still very possible to live a great life on any physician income and be able to save, invest, and really secure your financial future.


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