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Is That Deductible? Reflections On My Retirement, Time for Act 2

Jul 01, 2024

As I wrap up my 27 years of providing inpatient and outpatient family medicine with obstetrics in Plymouth, Indiana, I find myself reflecting on the journey that has brought me to this point. It has been a humbling experience, filled with gratitude and a sense of accomplishment. Although I asked my clinic, staff, and community not to have a big community event, we enjoyed a low-key picnic with the future staff of the clinic. In this moment of transition, I am reminded of the profound truth that no man is an island.

Family of Origin and Circumstances

Reflecting on my origins, I'm struck by the profound impact of my young parents' choices. My mother, at just 16, took on the immense responsibility of night shifts to provide for me, while my father, also a teenager, grappled with his own broken journey. Despite our modest circumstances, my mother's unwavering faith in my potential became a guiding light.

It's humbling to consider how her steadfast belief, coupled with my stepdad's support, paved the way for me to break new ground in our family by pursuing higher education. Their commitment to my dreams, even in the face of financial uncertainty, speaks volumes about the power of unconditional love and sacrifice.

As I contemplate my path to pharmacy school and beyond, I'm filled with gratitude for the foundation they laid. Their belief in me, against all odds, became the cornerstone of my achievements. This journey serves as a poignant reminder of how the faith and sacrifices of loved ones can shape our destinies in the most remarkable ways.

First Marriage and Family

Marrying my high school sweetheart was one of the wisest decisions I ever made. We met during our freshman year in high school, and she was the valedictorian and came from a strong family of faith. Jane provided me with a model of a highly bonded family whose worldview included getting ahead through education. Her love, support, and encouragement taught me how to study and reach my potential. Her family showed me the power of faith and education in creating a better life.

Tragically, she died of breast cancer at the young age of 33, leaving me widowed with two children under three. This profound loss was a turning point in my life.

Ellen: My Second Wife and Greatest Support

When I met Ellen 25 years ago, she brought healing, love, and stability back into my life. We married and added three more children to our family. Ellen has been the glue and foundation of our home, gracefully giving me unwavering support as an extremely busy rural doctor. Her strength and dedication have been the bedrock upon which our family has thrived.

Ellen's role as a stay-at-home wife and mother has been nothing short of incredible. Her devotion to our family and her tireless efforts to maintain a loving, nurturing home environment have allowed me to focus on my demanding career. She has been fully devoted to our children, ensuring they grow up in a supportive and loving home, despite the many hours I spent away from them due to my professional responsibilities.

Her unwavering support has extended beyond our home. Ellen has been my biggest fan, always encouraging me to pursue my passions and dreams. Whether I was working long hours at the clinic, delivering babies in the middle of the night, or pursuing new ventures, Ellen stood by me with unwavering faith and enthusiasm. Her belief in me has been a source of immense strength and motivation.

Ellen's grace, patience, and love have been the cornerstones of our family's success. She has managed our household with incredible efficiency, ensuring that our children received the attention and care they needed. Her ability to balance the demands of a busy household with her support for my career has been awe-inspiring. Ellen's unwavering dedication to our family and her role as my partner in life has been the greatest gift I could have ever asked for. My life is truly richer and more meaningful because of her!

My Children and Their Sacrifices

My five children have made significant sacrifices, often enduring my absence at important events and my late arrivals due to the demands of my professional life. Their understanding and patience have been a source of strength for me. They have grown into remarkable individuals, and I am incredibly proud of them. Their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, and I am deeply thankful for their love and support. Growing up in a small town, they were never far from the micro-scope of being “the doctor’s kids”—mostly I think they liked the advantages, but it wasn’t always easy for them.

Despite the challenges, this experience has instilled in them a strong sense of empathy and resilience. They've learned the value of hard work and dedication, witnessing firsthand the impact of a committed professional on the community. This unique upbringing has shaped their worldview, fostering a deep appreciation for service and the importance of balancing personal and professional responsibilities. As they've matured, my children have developed a profound understanding of the healthcare system and the critical role medical professionals play in society. This insight has inspired some of them to pursue careers in healthcare and public service, while others have embraced fields that allow them to make a difference in their own ways. The small-town environment, while sometimes challenging, has also provided them with a strong sense of community and belonging. They've learned to navigate social expectations and pressures with grace, developing strong interpersonal skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. I've made a conscious effort to make up for lost time, creating meaningful traditions and experiences that strengthen our family bond. These efforts have not only brought us closer but have also taught my children the importance of prioritizing family amidst professional demands.

Medical Partners and Friends

Reflecting on my journey as a medical professional, I'm deeply moved by the profound impact that my medical partners and friends have had on my development, both as a doctor and as an individual. The St. Joseph nuns, with their unwavering commitment to their mission and their selfless dedication to caring for the sick in our community, have been a constant source of inspiration, reminding me of the true essence of our calling.

I find myself particularly grateful for my cherished partners and colleagues, including Doctors Schumacher, Miller, Binfet, and Witt. Their influence has been transformative, shaping me into a more skilled and compassionate physician. Beyond our professional relationship, they have become treasured friends, offering support and companionship that I deeply value.

It was particularly meaningful to gather with my colleagues this past week to meet after work. This moment of respite provided us with a valuable opportunity to pause and contemplate the depth of our friendship and the significance of our professional bonds. Such moments of reflection serve to reinforce the importance of these relationships in our lives and careers, reminding us of the human connections that underpin our work in medicine.

My Commitment to the Community

During my 27 years in Plymouth, I gave 100% to the community. My passion for family medicine with obstetrical care in a rural setting allowed me to provide whole-person care while fulfilling my personal mission of Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

This scripture has guided me throughout my career, reminding me of the higher purpose in my work. This unwavering commitment to service has not only shaped my professional life but has also deeply influenced my personal growth and relationships within the community. I've had the privilege of witnessing families grow, from delivering babies to providing care for multiple generations. This long-term connection has given me unique insights into the health needs and challenges faced by our rural community. My dedication extends beyond the clinic walls, as I've actively participated in faith community initiatives, volunteered at local events, and mentored aspiring medical professionals. These experiences have reinforced my belief in the power of compassionate, holistic healthcare and its ability to transform lives. As I reflect on my years of service, I am filled with gratitude for the trust placed in me by my patients and colleagues. This journey has reaffirmed my conviction that when we approach our work as a calling, guided by faith and a sense of purpose, we can make a lasting positive impact on those around us.

What's Next? Act 2

As I transition into the next phase of my life, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead:

  1. Scrapping In My Sleep: I will be working with my wife's new scrapbooking business as her assistant, affectionately called "Scrappy-Do." We plan to produce a monthly video of me doing one of her scrapbooking projects, combining creativity and fun. Although I am a good surgeon, it will be interesting to see how this translates into the scrapbooking world!

  2. SimpliMD: I will continue fulfilling the mission of SimpliMD by leading and influencing physicians on the business of medicine. This includes producing content, doing consultations, creating courses, and speaking at conferences nationally and internationally.

  3. ChatRx: I am starting a new innovative e-visit product and company called ChatRx, where I plan to reinvent myself in medicine. With AI assistance, I aim to treat and care for common illnesses by treating 32 common infections for only $20. It's a missional crusade to disrupt the healthcare market.

  4. Rural Family Medicine Obstetrics: My passion for rural family medicine obstetrics remains strong. I will be helping rural communities with maternity care, starting with my first locums gig in rural Oregon this fall.

  5. Pleasure Traveling with Ellen: Ellen and I plan to travel extensively, visiting all the US national parks and many international landmarks. Our first big trips will include a Nile River Cruise, seeing the Egyptian Pyramids, and visiting Antarctica to do a polar plunge. It's going to be a blast!

As I reflect on my journey, I am filled with gratitude for the people and experiences that have shaped my life. I look forward to the future with excitement and anticipation, ready to embrace new challenges and adventures. Thank you, Plymouth, for 27 incredible years. Here's to the next chapter!

If you are looking for a great combination of CME and travel, I invite you to join me at my CME Away webinar on July 25th at 8pm EST to learn more about how you can join me on some of my CME trips in 2025 where I will be speaking. Together, let's embark on this exciting new journey!

Is That Deductible?

Now it’s time to evaluate any business purpose for these events that will help determine if they costs are pre-tax (business) or post-tax (personal).

The elements described in this reflection not only mark the end of a significant chapter but also pave the way for new professional and personal ventures. Each activity and venture carries potential business purposes and corresponding deductible expenses. Working with Ellen's scrapbooking business, producing educational content and consultations for SimpliMD, and starting ChatRx all involve business-related activities that may qualify for tax deductions. These could include expenses for home office use, travel related to conferences, production costs for educational materials, and development costs for new business ventures. Understanding and documenting these business purposes is crucial for optimizing tax benefits and ensuring compliance. Join me at my CME Away webinar on July 25th to learn more about leveraging these opportunities with CME business expenses and join me on some of my CME trips where I will be speaking.