August 14, 2013
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BLOG: Part Two: Is it just about the numbers? Does the quality of your professional life count?

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Read more blog posts from John B. Pinto

Every surgeon knows about quality and can distinguish a quality surgical case from a poor one, a quality diagnosis from the slipshod. a finely-honed Swiss instrument from a back-alley knockoff. But few surgeons stop to identify the features of a truly quality life — and then commit to living it.

Continuing from the last blog post, here is the second half of the life-quality list. For each of the 10 items below, give yourself from 1 to 5 points on the following scale:

1 = “There is a nearly complete deficit of this in my life”

2 = “I am significantly behind in this area … I could certainly use more”

3 = “I have just barely enough of this in my life”

4 = “I have a little more of this than most … but more would be nice”

5 = “I have so much of this, I could easily share my excess with others”

1. ___ The admiration and respect of professional peers whose judgment I respect

2. ___ An ample supply of relationships and outreach activities (with payers, doctors, patients, direct-to-consumer marketing, etc.) in the community that will continue to predictably feed patients to the practice … we’re free of worry about where our next patient will come from

3. ___ A fit, nimble body, somewhat younger than its actual age

4. ___ A sense that my mind is bold enough and my hands dexterous enough to master the latest surgical maneuvers

5. ___ Enough self-esteem to realize I won’t be devastated on that inevitable future day when my eroding manual skills demand I stop operating

6. ___ A sense that I am still mentally sharp and that I haven’t lost my edge intellectually … indeed, a perception that my lifetime of learning is cumulative and I’m keener with each passing year

7. ___ An inner, personal peace about the real purpose of life, and enough time to contemplate and practice this in a form meaningful to me (as by religious, charitable or other practice)

8. ___ An up-to-date understanding of our personal financial condition and the sense that we are slightly ahead of our expectations for this stage of life

9. ___ The habit of living consistently under our means so any future wobble in the practice will have no material impact on our personal lifestyle

10. ___ A deep-seated perception of financial independence … drawn not so much from what has been saved aside, but from an inner confidence of how great my earning capacity is when compared to what little we actually need

Again, what’s your total score? How does it compare with the score you would give yourself in purely financial or surgical volume terms? Are you a high-volume surgeon with a high-grade economic lifestyle but a low-quality life?  If so, what are you going to do about that?