This is part 2 of a 3 part conversation with Dr. Elisa Chiang, MD, Ph.D., who is a practicing ophthalmologist and oculoplastic surgeon. She is also a Life Coach and founder of Grow Your Wealthy Mindset.
Dr. Chiang shares:
And more about the often taboo topic of money…
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Resources for Dr. Elisa Chiang, MD, Ph.D.:
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There's 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 am taking on a limited number of one-on-one clients for Life Planning! To get the complete details, visit my website at Dare to Dream Physician https://daretodreamphysician.com
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. Weil 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 is 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'm so excited today to continue part two of a three part conversation with our guest, Dr. Elisa Chiang. She is an MD PhD, an ophthalmologist and oculoplastics surgeon. She is also a life coach and founder of Grow Your Wealthy Mindset. If you missed last week's episode, please add that to your queue. After you're done listening to this one, she talks about her journey as a medical student, graduate student, a resident fellow and attending, the struggles she had along the way, and how she was able to change her mindset and find transformation and contentment without changing any of her circumstances yet She did eventually decide to change her job. But that was really the icing on the cake after she changed her mindset. And today, I'm excited to continue that conversation. So stay tuned, you're in for a treat.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 01:54
This is a great time to talk about how there is a common feeling amongst physicians, especially when we talk about physician wellness, that they just have to do more yoga. And maybe now as we're talking about coaching, because coaching is becoming more widespread in the physician space, or maybe they just need to do more coaching, do more yoga, do more coaching, do more exercise, do more wellness. And I think physicians can sometimes resent that because they're like, Okay, here I am feeling the weight of the system. And maybe now after coaching, they don't feel like they have to carry the whole weight of the system. But the system hasn't changed. Maybe their thoughts around it have. And so the question would be do they have to stay in a system like that? Or are we telling physicians to just change themselves? Or are we also empowering physicians to make a bigger impact or maybe to just make a change in their life. And I like how, in your example, you did go through intensive coaching, and even did the coach training and went through a life transformation. But you also, after that you also made a change in your life by choosing to go to another job.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 03:04
Yeah, I was reading an article recently where I remember it was 2019 or 2020, where we've just transitioned from more physicians working for corporations, and instead of working either for themselves or for another physician, and that I think it's actually a bad thing for medicine. I would love to see more physicians owning their own practices or working for other physicians or being in physician owned type situations, as opposed to working for big hospital systems or working for I don't wanna say, venture capitalists, but
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 03:37
Well, yeah, venture capital is going into the physician practice space, right? A lot of private practices are being bought by venture capital.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 03:46
Yeah, and I'm not saying it's wrong to work for a hospital. I mean, there are some people who work for hospitals and love their position. And there are hopefully hospitals, that still treat their physicians well, and I know that even within my hospital, things are a little different between different departments. But I do think for physician autonomy, and for our own choice, it is, is best when we actually have a seat at the table of how healthcare, how that system works. And I think we've really relinquished that seed in a lot of ways. And part of that is if physicians can be secure in their own finances and don't feel so tied or trapped and handcuffed to their job for their paycheck, since then at that point, they may be more ready to and ready and willing to explore more what they really want to do. You know, yes, I'm going part time, but I don't necessarily plan on leaving medicine. I know that there are physicians who are leaving medicine, because they can't find that balance. And I would love to see a world where physicians can find that balance of being able to practice medicine but still do the hobbies they love or the side businesses they love, or spend time with their family. And I do think having a strong financial position such that they can weather any storms so if they're in a situation where at work where it's really not working for them that they can leave, even if they don't have another job lined up, or even to the point where they don't necessarily have to work for that income, but they're doing it because they want to do and they love to do it. So I did a mission trip to Honduras in 2019. And I absolutely loved it. And I basically paid to practice, right, I paid for my airfare, I paid for, you know, all the expenses to go on that trip, and I took my vacation time in order to go but it was so fulfilling to do that, I definitely know that part of me loves the practice of medicine, and have to say, I love that I basically saw patients and valued the patient actually wrote down, here's their problem, this is what I can do to fix it, which in general was a surgical, did the surgery, no thoughts about prior authorizations, or, you know, any of that and was able to serve these patients. It was, it was lovely.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 05:53
Hmm. So it was getting back to that pure act of service and the pure act of helping people in a very specialized skill set that you have, because I certainly can't go to Honduras and figure out what's wrong with these people's eye problems and operate on them. I mean, that's amazing that you can do that.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 06:12
Yeah, and I do want to say there's definitely for other countries, more benefit if we can teach the doctors there to do it to sustain their system. But I do feel like as a super specialist, Honduras is not anywhere near the point where they're going to have a whole band of microplastics people. So I still feel good about just going there fixing their problem. And I really loved the organization I was with. They do have someone there who is an eye professional who can continue to follow these patients. It's not like it's a void. So that you know, we just go in and come out and this organization actually goes back to the same clinic every year, which unfortunately, during the pandemic hasn't happened. There are people who go on mission trips really well intentioned, but if you just go there operate, and then there's no follow up more longer term, sometimes you're not doing as much good as, as you think. And so I do just want to put that preface out there.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 07:03
Yeah, absolutely. And so share with us the name of this organization, and how did you find them?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 07:08
Yeah, Vision Health International. I found them at the American Academy of Ophthalmology. So they simply just do eye ophthalmology, cataracts, obviously, the big problem for blindness across the world. But they also do recruit some of us as specialist to do our surgeries as well. So yeah, I just happened to be shopping for surgical instruments. So you can actually get surgical instruments for much cheaper that are made in like China and India. And so I was going there to buy some for myself, and I just happen to talk to someone else who's shopping there. And he was buying them for this organization. And, and so we just got to chatting and I always knew I, as a resident, I knew I wanted to contribute and do mission trips. In fact, I think one of the things that got me into ophthalmology was seeing this National Geographic documentary about this ophthalmologist who went to the Himalayas and was doing cataract surgery down there. And that was like really inspirational. I remember talking to, so doing the MD PhD, I had a lot of friends from med school who ended up becoming attendings before me, because I spent the extra four years doing the research. And so one of my friends is an emergency medicine, doctor and and we were talking about international work, and she was saying as an eye surgeon we can really go and if you take out someone's cataract is life changing. She's like when I do a mission trip, I can help them with like their immediate issue, but it's not necessarily as life changing.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 08:31
Yeah, that's actually what what I've been thinking about as you were talking about the difficulties that you're having at work, because I don't know a lot of ophthalmologists. But I do know that my dad had cataracts and an ophthalmologist fixed it. And he can see clearly, and I mean, how many people do we know who are elderly who also had that. That's a huge gift. And I know that Medicare is decreasing their reimbursement for something as life changing as a cataract surgery, and it just saddens me because I'm thinking I don't get it. You know, I mean, eyesight is, is such an important thing for all humans, and to hear about ophthalmologists struggling. And when I say struggle, I mean, just being able to sustain their practice, or feeling like they have to see even more patients to sustain their practice, and getting burned out as a result of it. It just doesn't make any sense. And it doesn't make any sense that a hospital system wouldn't really respect and try to make it work out for an eye surgeon, especially you because you have such a specialized area that you took so many years to train that I have absolutely no ability to do and neither do most of the people out there. And so it's just kind of saddens me, and I love how going on this missions trip or even thinking about the impact that you can make in such a short time that connects you back to your skills and your love of why you went into to your field. It's a message that all physicians need to hear, because this seems like the narrative that many physicians have and part of their contribution for burnout. And having physicians in this country having such a high rate of burnout is them feeling disrespected them feeling like they have no control over their work anymore. And when you think about going to another place, that's totally different from our system, and just serving, just practicing medicine there and helping the people in those countries, you realize what value you bring, it doesn't I mean, it doesn't have to be ophthalmology, but really medicine in general, and all the skills that all of us as physicians have, it's a really highly specialized skill set that most of this most of the people in this country don't have, and certainly even less of the people in the world have. And it just reminds me how valuable we are and how, despite how we may feel in our day to day life, about our value and our skills as a physician, that something like a missions trip really can be a reminder for us.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 11:06
Actually, I want to put a plug in because with the group that I'm at, we do have non-physician volunteers come obviously, we do have nurses to help with like recovery, and all that part of the surgery. But we also just have people who come to go out into the community and check people's visions. So we have people who are not trained in medicine at all. So actually, some of the physicians even bring their their children that are older children, and they go out in the field and just check people with an eye chart. And we can teach anyone how to do those kind of things. So even if you're not a physician, or your physician who can't see what you're going to do on a mission trip, there's still things that you can do to add value and and serve patients.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 11:49
Hmm, yeah, that's great. So let's talk about money. But the biggest taboo in our society. I would love to have a conversation about that with you, because you have taught yourself a lot about money. And I think you think about money a lot. And this conversation can be very interesting. And I don't think I've really had a conversation about money on my podcast before. So this will be a first.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 12:16
Yeah, I know. So it is more I think, an American taboo, or in our American society. I actually just recently read Happy Money by Ken Honda. And he's, in the very beginning the book, yeah, so he's in Japan, and some woman walks up to him and asked to see his wallet. And I guess this is something that happens in Japan, and she's going through his money and looking, you know, everything in his wallet. So it just shows just how different different cultures look at money. But yeah, I would say in the US, people don't want to talk about how much they make, or how much they have. I don't know if part of it is, if you say that you have a lot that people are going to take advantage of you or the thoughts of other kind. But yeah, I think even as a physician, when we're looking for jobs, I know when I was a fellow looking for my first job, I didn't actually know about MMG data, I didn't know I looked online as much as I could to find out like well know, how much does ocular plastics person make. And obviously, it's different, different regions in the country. But in the end, I think it just took like getting a lot of offers to get an idea of what was possible. I think that knowledge is really power, and we can all rise by knowing. So during my MSTP years, I taught for Kaplan and MCAP for Kaplan and there were several of us MD PhDs who did that. During grad school, you have a little bit more time than med school to do these kinds of things. And, and so sometimes they would put it out there that oh, can anyone teach this class on whatever day in whatever location and we got paid per class or whatever hours per class, but we actually got paid different rates among us. And we would actually talk about the rates. Oh, I remember one time this class came up and I said, Well, I I'll teach that class, but I want this rate, which is above the rate you usually pay me because it's last minute, and it was a location that was further traveled to. And I can't remember how the whole conversation played out. But you know, I said, Well, I know that you paid that much for so and so to teach for you. And the manager got super pissed, she's like, you it is inappropriate for you guys to be talking about how much you get paid. I was like, it's a free country, woman, we can say how much we're getting paid. You just think it's inappropriate, because now I know that you will pay more and I'm asking for more. And she didn't give it to me. And actually, I think after that I taught for them less. It's kind of like a sour taste in mouth. Probably a sour taste in hers too.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 14:41
Mm hmm. Well, that's so interesting. So I'm resonating with what you're saying because I grew up Chinese American. I actually was born in China, but I spent most of my childhood in the US. And there's definitely more of a cultural taboo in the US to talk about money then for example, in China, where people do openly ask people what their income is? And I don't know if they ask them in their face, or they ask them behind their back, but it's just the topic that's tend to come up more often, I think. And so like, when I was growing up, I actually thought that, that the US system was a bit better because I was like, Oh, well, it's less materialistic. And we're not so focus on people's income, like, because that's not really their whole worth. If there's probably some truth there, right, there's a sort of a hesitancy to rate ourselves just by our income, at least openly. But I think the other side of that is in the US, there is a big culture of shame around money, right? Like part of the reason why people don't want to talk about it is because, because they feel bad about it. I mean, a lot of people are in debt, there are a lot of people, because we don't talk about it. I think a lot, a lot of people don't even know about how to handle personal finances. That certainly was the case for me when I was in medical school and residency. And then when they do feel that they're in a bad place, they feel desperate, and maybe there's too much debt, there's really no forum to talk about it. So they're sort of suffering alone.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 16:03
I think you're right. There is a lot of shame. I think a lot of families actually don't talk about money within their family. Right. So parents don't talk to kids about money. I came, I asked like, Well, why can I have something? And maybe a lot of parents don't want to tell them like, well, you know, we can't afford it. Or maybe they do say we can't afford it, but they don't, you know, explain why. I know that in my family, we've talked about money more than the average American family. I know that my parents actually talked to me about starting IRA, as soon as I graduated college, and they were just like, Okay, you're working now you need to start a IRA and they didn't really explain what that, that meant. But I was like, okay, they told me to do this. So I went and open an IRA. And I started putting money in it. But they didn't actually even say, oh, now, when the money's in there, you have to actually invest it so it sat in cash for a few years until I'm like, Oh, I actually need to do something with the money in there. And also even just teaching entrepreneurship to children, right? I think children are naturally curious, and they want to learn and building healthy relationship with money, probably, I mean, does start in childhood, just like building any relationship with anything starts early on. And if people grew up thinking money is scarce, it's hard to get money, you have to work hard for money, then that's what they're going to bring towards the rest of their life. Where what if money is easy? What if money, there's always sufficient money? If we had these thoughts, how would that change how we live our life? And I'm not saying that, we should just go out and buy all the luxuries and spend all the money when we don't have it. But if we don't spend all of our life just focused on how much money we have, how much money other people have, what that can buy us, instead of focusing on like, what do I really want out of life. And obviously, everyone needs some amount of money to pay for food and housing and clothes. But there have actually been studies that show that once you get to a certain level of income, more money does not actually buy you happiness.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 17:58
And that's a fairly low amount. I mean, for most physicians, right? It's, do you know, off the top of you head?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 18:03
So there was one study that was done, it was somewhere in the $70,000. And then there was another study that was done later. And they actually did the second study, they went across the entire world. So in the United States is around $100,000. But, of course, it's going to vary depending on where you live in the United States, but pretty much any full time physician, once they're out of training is above that number,
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 18:23
Right. And that number I assume is looking at you can live a decent life and buy groceries and pay rent or your mortgage and maybe have a vacation without worrying too much about it. But, you know having three times that doesn't necessarily, you know, that can actually add more problems, right, as you know, because then people will go and buy more stuff and buy the yacht or the the plane, and that's gonna be more liabilities. It makes a lot of sense that there's a certain amount or there's balance, and then beyond that, it doesn't buy more happiness. And in fact, it may actually lead to more discontent or more pressure.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 18:59
Yeah, I mean, you can read stories about people who win the lottery and sell and become instant millionaires. And before they became millionaires, they managed money just fine. And then afterwards, they end up going bankrupt, some of them. And you can also find stories of you know, millionaires who are still not happy, right?
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 19:16
I think there are many, many stories, and probably most of them are not open about it. But I think that is certainly true.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 19:24
If you have a mindset of scarcity around money, no amount of money is going to make you actually feel secure.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 19:29
Hmm. Can you explain that a little bit? You had mentioned that before, and I'm thinking about everyone's money origin story. And I think for physicians, we're a very diverse group, right. And there's many physicians I know that came from no money at all. Their parents couldn't contribute anything for their college tuition or the med school tuition. And then there are other physicians who maybe were the children of physicians or other high income earners and had more security in their finances growing up. And that doesn't necessarily mean that they had a financial education from their parents, but at least their parents were able to provide for them financially in certain ways. And there's, of course, a wide spectrum, right? There may be parents who have the means, but didn't provide it for their kids or the other way around. And so I think that's part of the difficulty with talking about money. Because when you just make a statement, it's almost like, there's usually an inherent assumption in there. And so we say like money is scarce, like that may be to certain people, but maybe not other people. And, or even we make a statement like, oh, we should all save and invest? Well, that sort of assumes that there's not a lot of debts, right, especially like high interest, consumer debt. And so we can actually make that assumption because people are in such diverse financial situations, even if we're in the same profession. So to start, I would love to just hear about what, what does it mean to have like a scarce money upbringing, or scarce money mindset?
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 20:59
So yeah, when I talk about, like having scarcity around money, just the mindset that there's never enough money, or it's always gonna be hard to have money, or get money, you have to work hard for money. Those are the concepts around people who've just have a scarcity mindset around money, as opposed to abundant mindset about money is, I can always earn more money, there's always enough money, I have enough. Someone who has a scarcity mindset towards money, they could be making a ton of money, but their money could be, it just flows, flows away from them just as soon as they get to them. Or maybe they actually have a ton in their bank accounts, but they still just don't feel secure with that money. They think that having more money will give them security, but it's really your thoughts about security, that actually gives you security, right? So for some people, they think, Oh, if I had a million dollars, then I would be rich, and everything would be great and secure. And then there are other people like, well, a million dollars isn't enough. If I had a million dollars at a 4% withdrawal rate, that's only $40,000 a year, how could I possibly live on $40,000 a year? Well, I can tell you, there are a lot of families in the United States, that live on $40,000 a year, or even less. So you know, it's all really relative, but it's all goes back to our money mindset and how we think about money. And also, I mean, some of what we want in this world, right? There are people who love cars, and they may die like whatever Tesla Model or whatever fancy Porsche or Ferrari and that that does bring them a lot of happiness, because they just really love cars, and maybe that is an appropriate place for them to spend money. Whereas for me, I'm not a car person. So it would not make me happy to spend $100,000 on a fancy whatever car. But there may be some physicians who, as an attending physician think Well, well, what would it look like if I drove a Honda Civic, which is actually what I do drive. And they feel like well, no, I should have a BMW or Audi or some kind of fancy luxury car to show off my attending status. But what's that really getting for them? If you're purchasing something, just to what's that phrase? Looking out for the Jones?
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 23:09
Keeping up with the Joneses?.
Dr. Elisa Chiang, Guest 23:11
Yeah, so if you're just trying to keep up with the Jones, I mean, are you really going to be happy? Are you? Is that a good way to actually spend your money? So I mean, those are all the things you can think about when it comes to money mindset.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 23:29
Thanks for listening to this week's episode. As a society and even as a profession, we have many different thoughts around money. And the one theme that seems to be most common is there's a lot of secrecy around money. And embedded in that secrecy, there are feelings of shame, loneliness, sadness, and guilt. In the physician community, I want to give credit to the White Coat Investor who I discovered about eight years ago, when I was personally feeling hopeless and guilty about my own personal finances. I started with reading the White Coat Investor Blog, which is packed with valuable information, including the background knowledge in basic personal finance, and where do I go opened my investment and retirement accounts. And all of these things were completely Greek to me. And it was through reading his blog and then later reading his book, which really helped me get the mindset and now he has a podcast and YouTube videos that eventually helped me gain back the confidence and took the shame, the guilt, the loneliness, the despondency and the secrecy behind money for me, I am so honored to be chosen as a speaker at the next white coat investor conference that's taking place in Arizona in February of 2022. It's not too late to register for either an in-person or virtual attendance at this conference. I hope that you will be joining us. I'll be on the virtual speaker panel. And I'll be speaking about life planning, I am going to put the registration link in the show notes, please consider using my affiliate link for the White Coat Investor conference. The cost of attendance will be the same to you no matter how you register it. However, if you register through my link, any commission that I receive will go towards supporting this podcast. And to be totally transparent, it takes quite a bit of resources to create this podcast and put out content to you every week. It takes a lot of time and energy. And beyond that I pay money to the podcast hosting service where these audio files actually reside. I found assistance and I'm thankful for them, but I also want to pay them a fair wage. So as a listener, when you do find value in the content, I would be immensely grateful if you could also show support by using the affiliate links when I do provide them. I don't have a lot of them because I only want to link to products, services or conferences that I can vouch for. And remember, I would be so honored to provide life planning for you and to help you find that vision of your life that makes you passionate to get up every day and fulfilled as you go to sleep each night. And don't forget to reach out to Dr. Elisa Chiang for life coaching especially around money mindset. You can find her at growyourwealthymindset.com. And I'll leave all the ways that you can reach her including the website links in the show notes. I look forward to sharing the next episode with you it will be the third part of our amazing conversation where we'll continue to dig deeper into money mindset as well as talk about the fire movement. And for those of you who may not be familiar fire, FIRE, stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. So stay tuned everybody it will be so good.
Dr. Weili Gray, Host 26:52
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 will 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 imagined. See you next week.
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