This week's episode is the first of a 3-part interview with Dr. Elisa Chiang, MD, Ph.D. She is an ophthalmologist and oculoplastics surgeon, a life coach, and the founder of Grow Your Wealthy Mindset.
Dr. Chiang shares:
And much more of her interesting process…
Resources for Dr. Elisa Chiang, MD, Ph.D.:
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Grow Your Wealthy Mindset Website: https://www.growyourwealthymindset.com/
Grow Your Wealthy Mindset YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/WealthyMindsetMD
Grow Your Wealthy Mindset on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GrowYourWealthyMindset
Grow Your Wealthy Mindset on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/GrowYourWealthyMindset
Women Physicians Creating Wealth Facebook Group:
Dare to Dream Physician Resources:
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Dare to Dream Physician on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/daretodreamphysician/
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Note this document may have human or computer-generated errors in transcription. Refer to the audio file for the actual conversation.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host, Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 00:00
This is the Dare to Dream Physician Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Weili Gray. Many physicians today are feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled living a busy life based on someone else's terms and expectations. My mission is to help physicians figure out what they really want out of life, and how to make their dream life come true sooner than they ever imagined. My fellow physicians, your time to live your only life now. Become a dare to dream physician. Great things are going to happen. Make sure you hit subscribe and share this podcast with another physician you care about.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 00:48
Welcome back to another episode of The Dare to Dream Physician Podcast. I am so excited today to have our guest. Her name is Dr. Elisa Chiang. She is an MD, PhD. She's an ophthalmologist and an ocular plastic surgeon. She's a life coach. And she's also the founder of Wealthy Mindset. I am so excited to bring her on the show today to one hear more about her story because she has a really fascinating life. And we'll talk about one of the subjects that people are nervous to talk about that it's kind of taboo to talk about in our society, which is money and our relationship with money. So welcome.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 01:33
Thanks so much for having me. I have loved listening to your podcast. It is awesome.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 01:38
So tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 01:41
Yeah, I grew up in the Midwest in Ohio, ended up going to California for college. Actually, because so I'm of Chinese American descent was I born in Cleveland. But well, Cleveland is very white. I mean, there's Hispanic groups, and there's African Americans, and there aren't very many Asians, for sure. So I purposely wanted to go to California just to feel like being Asian was normal. And I wasn't actually thinking that probably any college or any tech school, Asian would be normal. So I ended up at Caltech, which was definitely my first choice kind of stretch reach colleges actually ranked number one. I was really excited when I got in. And yeah, so it was, you know, I went from being one of the smartest people in my high school to being average at best. So that was definitely a big transition for me. And I didn't go to undergrad with the thoughts of going to med school. I actually outside the college, interviewed a lot for management consulting jobs, actually. You know, I thought I wanted to do business, it sounded exciting. They traveled all the time. We're problem solving all the time, I really liked the kind of problem solving nature. And so I did that interview circuit. And I did not actually get a management consulting job at that time. So it's a little known fact, but I rethought things and, and my mom had always pushed me to go to medicine. And I spent a year doing research and decided to just go ahead and apply for medicine. I did want to do something for I felt like I was impacting people and being of service. So I ended up doing an MD PhD. CalTech's very research heavy institution. And so I did a lot of research. And I love the problem solving nature of research, again, that problem solving part of management consulting is what kind of drew me there. I ended up doing a MD PhD at Case Western Reserve University. And during my grad school years, I think that's the first time I actually started to feel burnout. Kind of so early, I don't know if it was true burnout, as much as just kind of disillusionment.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 02:02
Hmm. So you were done with MS 1 and MS 2, and then this is during the the PhD phase. Is that where you're going to?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 03:45
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 03:45
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 03:46
Right. So I did two years med school and then after the two years was just, you know, in grad school, first year of grad school is doing some coursework, but you're already starting kind of your research project. And then you're kind of just really in the research. And it's very narrow, very focused. And it didn't feel like this is going to apply and make a big impact. And I mean, obviously, you know, research is the foundation, where the person who founded vaccines has made a huge benefit to the human civilization. But it just didn't ignite that, that passion in me. And so I started learning about personal finance at that point. I started reading about personal finance, primarily actually because we were buying a house, but then I started reading, I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And then I really started opening my eyes up to more so towards the end of grad school, I actually decided to do some real estate investing. And I ended up flipping two houses and also working on some rentals with a friend of mine in a partnership and really opened up that that whole world as well. I did go back to M3 M4 the last 2 years med school, did enjoy that, decided on going to ophthalmology, really loved surgery and during residency years and fellowship, and spent the time just devoting everything into mastering the trade of medicine, I wasn't doing real estate investing at that point, I was still doing investing, putting money into my Roth IRA, and spending time educating actually my co-residents about why they should be putting money into the Roth IRAs.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 05:23
Oh, that's so awesome. I wish I had you as a co-resident that was something that nobody talked about in medical school, which, you know, made sense because we weren't making an income. But as residents, I remember not really having any conversations about money with my fellow residents or attendings.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 05:42
Yeah. So from there, I absolutely loved fellowship actually. Went to Virginia for my first job in private practice. And it was a good job, but there was definitely a sense of Is this it?
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 05:54
So how, give me an idea because I'm not that familiar with ophthalmology and the fellowship training, how long is the residency and then the fellowship?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 06:03
Yeah, so it's a one year internship and then three years of residency that is changing. Ophthalmology is becoming a four year residency without an internship. So I did my residency at Northwestern. They are now doing a four year instead of intern year plus three years. And then fellowships, there are a lot of different fellowships in ophthalmology, many are one year, the two year fellowships are retina and oculoplastics.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 06:25
Okay, so you you spent six years after medical school and postgraduate training?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 06:31
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 06:32
Yeah, that's a long time.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 06:33
Yeah, I enjoy private practice. I was in a practice where I wasn't as busy as I'd like to be to get that kind of production bonus and, and feel like I was being productive. I really actually kind of did all the things I went to every single dinner with a drug Rep to meet other physicians, I cold called on physicians, I didn't do social media marketing, back then, but that didn't really occur to me back then. But I was really hitting the road. I spoke for Rotary Clubs, I was just trying to get myself out there to build my practice out there.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 07:07
Wow. And yet, it was still maybe not going the way that you thought it would go.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 07:12
Right. Yes, due to certain things that happen in the practice, I decided to leave, I decided I wanted to come home to my hometown. So I did my med school at Case Western Reserve, the MD Ph.D. MSTP program. And so that was eight years for me and I had grown up in Cleveland. And I actually think it's the years of the MD PhD, that I rooted me more than growing up, because my friends from growing up there scattered all over. Actually, even all over the world, I made a lot of friends during the MD PhD that were outside of med school completely. So they were all still living in Cleveland in that one community. I found it in Virginia, it took like two or three years before I even started making friendships. And so I just didn't want to restart all over. And unfortunately, you know us, physicians having that non-compete, when I signed on for the job in Virginia, I remember my lawyer talking to me about the non-compete, and I was like, Well, I'm only going there for the job. So if the job doesn't work out, the chances of me staying are low. And I liked the area I might have potentially stayed. But with the non-compete, it just felt better to go home.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 08:16
Well, that's you touch on such a great point. And this podcast is trying to help physicians figure out what they really want out of life. And I think a big part of that, as you touched on is the location of where we live, where we settle down. And there are social implications of that. There's professional implications of that. And I love that you made a conscious decision to go back to an area where you felt like you already had friends there. And also how you noted that it's very difficult to make friends after a certain stage in life, right? So you, you moved to this completely new area, and you're done with your training. And it is, that's what I found too, that it's because we're so used to moving around right for our training. And oftentimes, we may be, especially for what you went into, which is a very competitive specialty and fellowships. Oftentimes, people just take the residency that they matched into right, or the fellowship that they matched into. So you don't have that much say over where you live for parts of your medical career. And then when you do become an attending, there are also other considerations, like non-competes. And I love that you made a conscious decision to go back to the place where you felt like you were most connected to.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 09:32
Yeah. And in all honesty out of fellowship, I did try to go back to Cleveland, my hometown, and I cold called on practices and I did get one job offer at one of the hospital systems but after talking to a number of people around about that particular job, I decided that it was not one that would be a good idea to take. Because I thought well, you know, I'd done everything to try to get a job in Cleveland. It doesn't look like it's going to happen. Then I made my job search across the country. And that's how I landed in Virginia. So in deciding come back to Cleveland, what had happened is I ended up taking a job at a big hospital system. Their oculoplastics person was retiring at that point. So over the three years, they've had a change in their situation. And there was a reason I went to private practice outside after Belgium, but I talked to the division leader, the ophthalmology, and she kind of assured me about a bunch of my fears about working in a big bureaucratic hospital system, which my residency and fellowship were both, you know, academic centers, well called the ivory tower, and they function a little differently, I would say my residency was maybe a little bit more business focused or efficiency focused in my fellowship. But I definitely wanted autonomy and control over my schedule. And that was not something that I saw people have so much in the academic setting, and have a lot of in the private practice setting. So I was worried about that. And, like I said, the division churches swaged, my worries, but then I realized after I started practice, that the hospital system that know all my worries were very valid. And a lot of the things I was concerned about, you know, really was the case. And, yes, and then I burned out all over again, in medicine.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 11:19
Hmm. When did you realize that? So from the time where you started this job, where you had some fears coming in, about the autonomy and the scheduling and the efficiency in a corporate medicine system, and when you realize, wait, this isn't what I was told it would be, it's actually what my fears thought it would be, and then realizing that you were burned out, what was that timeline like? And what did that feel like?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 11:45
It's hard to say, because when I first started, I was like, you know, whenever you first start somewhere, it's all everything's new, and you have to figure out where everything was, and they did not have good systems. Like I even asked, because I was gonna go to multiple locations. They have a lot of different satellites. And I even asked them, Well, can someone bring me to the different locations and show me where I'm supposed to go? And the essential practice manager was like, Oh, yeah, I guess that might be a good idea. We've never done that before. And so, I mean, that just kind of shows like, yeah, I don't want to have to walk into this big medical building and be like, Okay, I'm the new doctor, I'm the new eye doctor, where do I go? Hmm. And I had used EPIC in multiple hospital systems before, but every EPIC is a little different. And in this hospital, they wanted everyone to have after visit summary. And I remember that first day, where I am thinking, Okay, I'm going to be fine, because I've used effics so many times, and I hadn't clicked something or put something and still wouldn't to print this stupid after visit summary. And I kept apologizing to this first patient. And finally, I figured it out. I did have an orientation with effics classes.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 12:54
But it's different when you're actually in practice. I mean, there was there's taking the class and then there's actually what's happening in your, your exact workflow and whether the printer actually prints when you push a button, and they don't tell you what to do in the class when it doesn't actually work out the way that they said it would,
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 13:12
For sure. And then the previous oculoplastics person, he wasn't doing the full scan of oculoplastic, he wasn't doing orbital cases. And he was doing some things a little differently. So I needed some instruments that I didn't have and getting getting those instruments was was really rough. It took it took months, the person who I met with about Percy instruments was very well actually, she was really that's, I've never been treated so rudly as a physician by a staff at the hospital before and so I think it was rough from the beginning. And I remember talking to one of the other physicians who is ENT, and he said, you know, tough it out a little bit. When he first came. The first month, he was like, Oh, my God, what have I done? And then he said, after a few months, it was like, Oh, this is this is getting better. And then after three or six months, he was like, Oh, I should have done this years ago. And so I kept, I remember thinking at some point, like, okay, just keep keep waiting out. It's gonna get better as soon as I I understand the way the system is, it's going to get better, but it didn't get better until I got coaching.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 14:18
Huh, I see. Yeah. So you had met with another surgeon in another specialty that whas coming from private practice?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 14:27
No, he was coming from another hospital system in the city. Actually, the hospital system that I turned down several years ago.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 14:36
Oh, okay. I see. The ones where you felt there were red flags.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 14:40
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 14:42
Ohh, that's, that's so sad. But that is the reality, right for a lot of physicians,. You're choosing between a bad position and another bad position or it can feel like that when you know when they're looking at their options. Okay, so you were at a moment where you realize this is, you know, I don't see this getting any better. I'm waiting for it to get better, like my colleague said it may, and it's not getting better. And then you said, you turn to coaching, how did you even hear about coaching?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 15:08
So the pandemic has actually been a good thing in my life. So I came back to Cleavland in 2019, that the pandemic obviously came early 2020. And so that was kind of this time where I was trying to still figure things out. And because of being on lockdown, I got to spend more time online. And there was this leverage and growth conference. And there was Sunny Smith, who spoke about life coaching. And that's when I first heard about coaching. So I started listening to the Brooke Castillo, The Life Coach School Podcast. And I had read books before about how to be happier thinking about gratitude and positive thoughts. And none of that ever resonated with me, like I couldn't even finish those books. Like, it was just like, well just me trying to think happy is not going to make me happy. I mean, it just Yeah, they didn't resonate. But when I listened to the Life Coach School podcast and heard about the model, and that really brought structure, and when I thought about going through the model, then it really made sense. And things started clicking. And so I joined Self Coaching Scholars and got coaching that way. And then actually, Coach Certification came up in September, and I was back in clinic and still working full time, but my social life, I just completely died. So when I came back to Cleveland, again, it was because I had a lot of friends here. So I had a thriving social life, like when I came back, but COVID had just shut that down. So now I found myself with a lot more time that I wasn't spending with those friends. And so I decided to do the Life Coach Certification, not necessarily to be a life coach,but just because I've heard from people that you get so much coaching, you really learn all the inner workings of coaching that it's transformative just from that. And so I went ahead and did that. And I just loved it. During certification, we peer coach, I coach other people, and they coached me, and I really enjoyed coaching. And so I decided, well, I really would like to do this. And when you think about it has a lot of parallels with medicine. And we go into medicine to help people and life coaching definitely is a way to help people as well. And it's really a way to also have that one on one connection with somebody, which I feel like I've lost a bit in medicine. I know different specialties are really different. In oculoplastics, I tend to see a lot of patients refer to me, and I'll fix them surgically, I'll see them a few times and they go, which I definitely loved doing the surgery, I love the transformation I give them and I definitely helped the people in that way. But I don't necessarily see a patient often enough in that system to actually get to know them so personally. And then a lot of people with ophthalmology just get an exam once a year. And once a year is not really usually enough to create that personal connection. And obviously, there are some patients where I do see more often, like who might have glaucoma or who have an acute problem that I'm seeing regularly and getting them through that problem. So it's not like I never get that. But life coaching is like all about personal connection. And so I really love that.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 18:10
Um, so you found coaching, which you talked about how it helped you, but then you also discover that being a coach is actually a missing piece in your fulfillment from medicine.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 18:22
Yeah,I think so.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 18:24
Hmm. So I'm really curious about how you talked about the sources that you went to the Life Coach School and the Life Coach School Podcast, and then those Self Coaching Scholars in the Training, but I'm curious about what was so transformational about it. Can you give us an example of perhaps how this situation at work, which has not been so good, and how coaching helped with that?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 18:46
Yeah. So to get into that, I'm going to go through the model, which is basically there are circumstances in the world there, these are things that happen these are, you know, undisputable like you could bring to court and everyone would agree this happened. And then there are our thoughts about that circumstance. So first thing one of the circumstance that I saw regularly in clinic was a patient being on my schedule who really shouldn't be seeing me, but were just put on my schedule because I had an opening, but let's say they're a glaucoma patient of another physician. And so for glaucoma, you want to see the same physician again and again, you don't want to just be hopping between physicians and having different people managing that. So that would be a circumstance you know patient a with glaucoma, who normally sees Dr. B is on my schedule. And then my thought about that is like why did the schedulers like screw up this is this is inappropriate now I'm gonna have to spend time fixing this and so then when I feel is I feel frustrated and so that's what was happening all the time. I take actions from that frustration and and of course, the actions we do create, you know, certain results and in here, the results was just me perpetually being frustrated all the time by thinking, all these thoughts of this shouldn't be. Well, when you argue with reality, it's never, I'm never getting created something positive, right? So, you know, by changing the thought is okay, well, here's the system. But here's a patient who's here today, and I can still help her right? I can help her get back on her glaucoma drops, I can relay to, you know, Dr. B, that unfortunately, this patient ended in my clinic, can we get her back to seeing you. And I can call the, my secretary to make sure she gets on Dr. B's schedule, unfortunately our hospitals a centralized scheduling. So the people scheduling don't really know one doctor from another, to be honest. And so even though the optimal thing would be that the patient had gotten her normal appointment with Dr. B, at least I can still help her and feel good about that. So that turns like a situation where if I was, you know, just thinking about who messed up, and being frustrated that I'm even seeing this patient, I'm just like, this is an opportunity to still serve, maybe I'm not serving so much in a medical way. But I'm still helping this patient and getting her the medical care she needs.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 21:00
I love that example. And also, as you're talking more about the system that you're practicing in, I, I just actually really makes me appreciate the system I practice in, because for example, I have dedicated schedulers for my practice, who know exactly what my preferences are, I talked to her every day, my medical assistants are kind of my right hand, and she's my left hand when we all work together, and it works beautifully. Still, the days are not perfect, but I can't imagine being in a system like that. And yet, what I'm hearing is you have no control over that. So with coaching, you explain beautifully the process, the model of how the life coaching works through certain circumstances, so the results. But I also hear that you don't feel like you're responsible for the whole system, probably before and if I was in your shoes, I can sort of imagine myself thinking, Okay, this patient, who was another person's local, my patient, who I have no history with, and now is on my schedule. Now I have to solve that problem, meaning, I have to figure out what her previous glaucoma history is, and basically doing the impossible, and then being frustrated as a result. And with the coaching, you recognize, well, I can't do the impossible, what I can do is the little pieces that I can control, and then I can still feel good about that, because that's the system that I'm working in, is that a correct understanding. Because as you're explaining it, that's how I felt internally, I was like, Oh, I can see myself and going from, I have to solve the world's problems, how the system is broken, how this patient is now a victim of this broken system. And now after going to the coaching model, I don't have to feel responsible for the weight of that problem. I can be responsible for the things that I can help but not for the things that I can't help with.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 22:47
Yeah, that's completely it. Like, I only have control over what I do. I have no control over what anyone else does. And I also have control over my thoughts. So by thinking better quality thoughts, and asking myself better quality questions, I can actually look at, in the end, it goes to like, what is my purpose? Like, what do I want to do? Well, you know, I've kind of said multiple times on this podcast, like I want to help people, so I can help this person, if that's my purpose in seeing a patient is to help them well, I can still do that.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 23:16
Yeah, that's such a great example. Because I, although I don't work in a system that sounds as broken as the one that you're describing. But even in close to perfect systems, I think as physicians, we do often encounter situations where we can't fix the whole problem. And I think our instinct is we want to help that patient, I want that patient to walk out my door and feel like okay, all the issues that they came with are resolved. And that's my own problem, that's an expectation that I have that may not be reachable. To choose our thoughts more intentionally, I can really see how that would be very transformative.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 23:53
And the other thing actually just mentioned, what you just said, is that you can do everything you think to make the patient happy, and they're still not going to be happy. Because their happiness is dependent on their thoughts. And they may want something that is frankly impossible to be happy. And so it's good to realize like you can do only what you can do and other people are going to think and feel how are they going to think and feel and you really, I mean, you can influence it by what you say. I'm not saying like, well, if you say something very rash and mean or you know angry to a patient that that's gonna make them happy, obviously, but just know that you can people please as much as you want and the person that you're trying to please is still not pleased.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 24:38
Hmm, yeah. So I also hear that as part of the coaching, you become a little bit more detached from the things that you have no control over. And I can see how that can really lift the weight off of someone's chest, especially as physicians, it's easy to feel like we carried all this weight especially of systems that are broken that we have no control over, and you're right Sometimes patient expectations that can be unachievable, but that's great. So I'm curious. So the coaching, fix everything for you? Because it does sound to me like even factually that some of the things in the healthcare system that you describe are are sub optimal.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 25:17
Yeah, the scheduling is not going to get fixed maybe one day but not anytime soon. But I got myself in a much better place and I also really thought about well what what do I want to do. So I love coaching so much I decided I do want to start a coaching business, and so I am working actively on that. And I also decided that I would prefer to cut down on my clinical hours in order to work on that coaching business. I decided to start looking for other jobs and I I am going to actually next week move to a new job for I will be part-time and have time for my coaching practice and go back to private practice model.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 26:00
Thank you for listening to part one of a three part interview with Dr. Elisa Chiang, ophthalmologist and life coach. I am grateful that she openly shared her struggles as an attending physician, and the tools that she utilizes that made a big difference for her. She shared those tools in the episode so that you can start implementing them in your life now. You'll want to stay tuned to the next two episodes where we continue to dive into personal finance, money mindset, and how they both relate to living your dream life. I love Dr. Elisa's work. And in my mind her work in Life Coaching and Money Mindset coaching is really complimentary to Life Planning. In Life Planning, my goal is to have my clients get clarity on what their dream life is, and to feel that energy to pursue the dream life. Once that vision is lit on fire, we can start working towards making that vision a reality. And if money and money mindset are obstacles, coaching is one useful tool to help us get to that dream. You can find Dr. Elisa on her YouTube channel Wealthy Mindset, on her Facebook group for women physicians called Women Physicians Creating Wealth. And you can also work with her one on one. She coaches both male and female physicians. Sign up for a discovery call on her website growyourwealthymindset.com. I'll put all this information in the show notes. And I can't wait to continue our conversation the next couple of weeks.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 27:41
Thanks for listening. Make sure you hit subscribe so you don't miss another episode. If you liked this episode, please share it with a friend and give us a five star review so we can help more physicians dare to dream and create their most abundant lives. There's also exciting news at the Dare to Dream Physician. For those of you who wish to get clarity on your own why and get energized as you explore, envision and create your dream life. I'm so excited to announce that I'm taking on a limited number of one on one clients for life planning. To get the complete details and sign up for an exploration meeting. Go to my website, daretodreamphysician.com. I really look forward to working with you. And it would be such an honor and privilege for me to be able to help you create your life plan. I truly believe that life planning will transform your life and will give you that energy to pursue your dream life sooner than you ever imagine. See you next week.
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