As professionals, you understand the significance of planning in your clinical life. Whether it involves your clinic schedule, shift allocations, surgery schedules, or call coverage, careful consideration is required for time away, whether it's for personal or professional purposes. Therefore, I have a clinic schedule that is templated for the upcoming calendar year. Additionally, I create a call schedule in one-year blocks. I also make it a point to block out my schedule for the 4-6 weeks that I take off annually that must align with these schedules.
My wife and I have been planning to go on a two-week African Safari CME trip for well over 12 months now. We are incredibly excited about this business trip and can't wait to experience the continuing education in such an amazing location. What makes this particular CME company even better is that spouses can attend for free—yes, you heard that right, completely free of charge!
Anyhow, as many of you know, the approach and re-entry from time off can be intense and challenging because the workload needs to be redistributed. Sometimes, the extra work can make you wonder if it's all worth it, but I can assure you that it is. Taking time away to clear your mind, heart, and soul will ultimately make you a better doctor, spouse, and person. It's all part of the necessary self-care that many doctors tend to neglect.
The cadence of busyness increases as your time off approaches, not only in your professional life but also in your personal and micro-business life. There are just so many things to take care of before going away for a few weeks.
My wife and I are in that mode as we are one week away from heading to Africa. There is so much to do and many things to finalize! An additional challenge for this trip is that we must pack our belongings into soft-side luggage with a maximum weight limit of 33lbs. This restriction is necessary due to the small planes we will be using for the journey. Our goal is to pack all those tiny bags using a cube system by today since we won't have time during the rest of next week. The good news is that we succeeded, and each bag weighs less than 25 lbs!
My dad is suffering from chronic medical conditions and has been in hospice at the nursing home for the past month. Following a family meeting last week, we have made the decision to bring him home with hospice care for his remaining weeks of life. My mom and dad don't want to be separated, and we have been able to create a support structure that helps make this possible. This includes my sister and me staying overnight with them several days a week. I cherish these precious final days with my dad, and I recently completed my first overnight "shift" with him. It was a special and meaningful time we shared. By the way, my mom is a nurse and despite her Parkinson's Disease is he primary care giver, my sister is a nurse as well, and of course, I am a doctor. So, in addition to the hospice care, my dad has his own personal medical team!
We have discussed my upcoming trip out of the country, and in the event that he passes while I am away, we will wait for my return to hold a memorial service. Everything is mostly arranged to support my parents during this final stage.
I am grateful to my working-class dad, who, despite barely graduating from high school as a "D" student, possesses an incredible emotional intelligence that has made him a successful factory manager and small business owner. Moreover, he is a beloved member of our small town community, as evidenced by the steady stream of daily visitors who come to see him, highlighting his strong community connections.
Our providers and managers meet once a month to discuss various practice management elements associated with working together at our clinic. Today, we had the meeting at 8am, which happened to be my day off. I prefer scheduling the meeting on my time off to ensure it doesn't interfere with my productivity in the clinic.
Our meeting followed a lengthy 2-hour Microsoft Teams meeting the previous night, involving our entire medical group. The tone of that meeting can be summarized as follows: "Due to the financial impact of COVID, we have incurred significant losses. As a result, we need to tighten labor expenses and increase productivity." Essentially, we are all being asked to accomplish more with fewer resources.
During our practice council meeting, we made some adjustments, metaphorically speaking, like moving a few chairs around on the Titanic. We aimed to find some positive outcomes or wins.
The topic of the annual clinic holiday party was brought up. Unfortunately, corporate does not permit any clinic time to be lost for a party, nor does it have the funds to support such an event. It's important to remember that in the past, we used to have a grand celebration for the medical staff during the holidays, complete with black ties, festive spirit, and all expenses covered by the hospital. Regrettably, this is no longer possible due to budget constraints.
One of the nice things about owning my micro-business is that I can expense these types of staff parties. Therefore, I volunteered to secure a meeting room on a Friday night in December at one of the local establishments. I will provide food and drinks for the event, and we can decide on any entertainment later. We have chosen December 8th as the date, and I have tasked my party planning wife and a PC employee to handle the setup. Their involvement, given the pressures leading up to our trip, certainly earned me a side-eye from my sweetheart!
I am fortunate to have a business coach whom I regularly meet with in the comfort of my own home. Dan, my best friend from high school, knows me better than anyone else, except for my wife.He is one of those friends who has always been there for every major event in my life, doing so with an unassuming and genuine attitude, along with an "I believe in you" mindset. We all need a "Dan" in our lives.
Dan is not only a highly successful micro-businessman, but he also excels in multiple industries within his enterprise. His expertise lies in real estate and retail food sectors.
I wholeheartedly rely on Dan during our meetings, as he not only offers wise business advice but also provides scriptural guidance. It has been truly invaluable to have someone who understands and supports me as I navigate the grief associated with my dad's illness and impending death. Dan's willingness to visit me at my parent's home next week when I stay overnight is just one example of the kind of friend he is.
Dan reads all of my emails and blog posts and offers his insights on them. His feedback is truly invaluable. One mindset that he reflected on as a micro-business enterprise owner is that everything he does on a daily basis is considered a business expense—unless he specifically notes otherwise.
We have observed that due to my clinical schedule, where I work four days a week, most of my micro-business work gets pushed into Fridays, making them quite busy. On the other hand, Dan mentioned that he enjoys the flexibility of not having a set job, except for his role as a small court judge in his town. As an entrepreneur with multiple micro-businesses, he has the luxury to visit, work, manage, and oversee them as he pleases every week. This autonomy is something that many small business owners appreciate, and I am eagerly looking forward to having complete control over my weekly schedule starting next summer.
After meeting with Dan, I went to the bank to deposit my rent check for one of my businesses. I also deposited a monthly compensation check that I received from a local nursing home for my role as a medical director. Additionally, I checked with the hospital regarding the delay in the direct deposit of my call coverage compensation from last month. On a positive note, I did notice that my quarterly compensation for nurse practitioner collaborative oversight had been successfully deposited into my account.
It's great to earn money from multiple sources & making deposits is a fun experience to me because I can see my money going into the accounts. This feels different than an email on a direct deposit. With nine businesses, there is a lot to track in terms of income. Therefore, micro-business owners need to stay on top of these items in collaboration with their bookkeeper (in my case, my wife).
Is That Deductible?
Now, let's take a moment to reflect on the business objectives for this busy week. There is a lot to cover.
CME Trip to Africa: This is mostly a deductible business expense.
Dad’s Care: This expense is not deductible, which includes any time I would have taken out of my clinic to take care of him and my mom. As an independent contractor working solely on a productivity model, no work means no pay for me. I don't have any "PTO" (paid time off). Each day I am away from my clinic costs me approximately $3000-$4000. While I am financially independent and can afford the time off, it is still a challenge to reschedule 35 patients a day. Thankfully, my sister and other family members are also available to fill in any gaps and provide support if I am tied up at the clinic.
Holiday Party: This is a deductible business expense, and it's great that the NP's in my practice have agreed to help underwrite it. I'm relieved that it doesn't have to come out of our personal funds anymore, like it did for years before I became an independent contractor with an employment lite contract.
Business Coaching: A deductible business expense that is worth every penny!
Some you may wonder about which CME company I am using. It is a Canadian company called CME Away—they have marvelous CME options-on the sea or land. I highly recommend them because not only is the CME content excellent, but they also offer unique locations.
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