About

image credit: http://capping.slis.ualberta.ca/cap08/MelindaSpears/index.html

My name is Lumi St. Claire, and I am a 30-something (recovering) primary care doctor.  After a whopping eleven years in the field battling managed care restrictions, insurance companies, and terminally broken administrations, my white doctor’s coat officially caught fire and I burned out. Rather than try to dust  myself off again working as a clinician, I made the unorthodox decision to completely restart my career as a medical and educational consultant, much to the horror of my colleagues.  I mean, when you’ve finished four years of college, four years of medical school, three years of residency training, and over half a decade of clinical practice, you don’t just pack up and LEAVE, do you?

Or do you?

14 thoughts on “About

  1. I am in my 11th year of primary care practice and my coat is smouldering. The smell of smoke grows stronger daily. Things I used to enjoy or I thought would bring satisfaction no longer do or are gone. When I mention to collegues the thought of leaving clinical practice they look at me as if I require a mental health admission. I admire you.
    ,

    • Hi Rona-
      I can certainly empathize with your situation, and I know how difficult it can be working that way. One thing I think is really critical to examine is whether you are truly burned out (i.e. the actual work is not appealing) or demoralized (the work is appealing, but you are in destructive environment that prevents you from doing it in a way that is meaningful to you.) It’s very easy to confuse the two. I certainly had a tremendous amount of institutional dysfunction that was a huge part of my problem, and it’s hard to know if I would have thrived in a different environment. But I also came to realize that the actual job description of a primary care provider is really not a good fit for me. I’m much more of a specialist in terms of how I think and work.
      There’s an interesting blog post from an education perspective on demoralization vs burnout if you want to check it out:
      http://siobhancurious.com/2012/03/15/demoralization-vs-burnout/

      Thank you for reading, and best to you.

      ~lumi

  2. As a doctor fresh into the medical world, everything seems nice and awesome to me. i am on the verge of starting my residency and the thoughts of burning out seem laughable. And yet, there are people I know who have stuck on to Medicine despite hating it day in and day out. I admire your courage for choosing to walk the unwalked path. I would love to hear more from you and hence subscribed to your blog. Hope to keep learning and interacting with you!

    Cheers!

    • Welcome to MyWhiteCoat, Pranab!

      I have several blog followers at this point who are pre-med or current medical students, and I truly appreciate the important viewpoint you bring to the blog. Your voice is critical. Some things have changed immensely since I went through my medical school training in the mid-nineties, and some are shockingly the same. Having your eyes open to the both the highs and lows of the medical profession as you move through your training should help you maintain balance and avoid burnout. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation and start of the next phase of your life!

      Thanks for reading-

      ~lumi

  3. Hi Lumi,

    I have been a follower of your blog and find that I have been able to relate to much of what you have written. Although my cirsumstances are a bit different (I began medical school and have taken a leave of absence to decide if it is truly my path), your postings draw strong connections with my situation and they have been a pleasure to read. On a side note, do you only communicate with people via your blog or do you email as well?

    Thanks,
    Decidingmedstudent

  4. Lumi, where have you gone? I recently left primary care and reading your blog was refreshing and inspiring. Hope you are well and that you come back!

  5. Hi Lumi,
    I was wondering aimlessly among blogs pretaining to doctors because I am really interested in the medical feild but I wanted to read about the highs and lows of the profession. Your blog really helped me answer that question. I am still trying to figure out whether being a doctor is within my level of skill set and whether I am mentally and possibly physically cut out for it. I think I might be too young to figure out such an important detail of my future….Any advise?

    • Thanks for visiting and I’m glad the blog was helpful for you. I personally think it’s very important to spend time in the actual medical field in some way in order to get a sense of the profession. I would suggest volunteering in a medical environment (ER, inpatient, outpatient, etc) so you can see firsthand some of the things that are involved and you can talk to those already in the field about their experiences.

      Best of luck-

      ~lumi

  6. Hello,

    I found your blog while researching for information regarding leaving clinical medicine. First off, thank you for sharing so that the others out there feeling the same way know they are not alone and that there is life after clinical medicine.

    I am interested in becoming a certified language interpreter as well and was wondering if you had any advice regarding that path as there are several certification agencies and training programs out there. I did a quick search of your blog but didn’t come up with any posts regarding your process in becoming certified. Any information you can provide or just what your experience has been would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!

    • Hi Christina-

      Thanks for getting in touch! Interpreter certification programs depend specifically on the language, as well as the content area of focus. Not all languages have certification programs, and the ones that do may have content-specific focus (such as legal, medical, etc). Unfortunately there is no globe certification process for all interpreters (which certainly would make things easier!)

      Take care,
      ~lumi

  7. Hi Lumi,

    I am an emergency medicine doc, fed up with clinical practice. After no small amount of soul searching and professional evaluation, I have decided to pursue consulting. Unfortunately, cold calls and emails seem to be a complete dead end. Do you know of any connections, contacts, networking opportunities or individuals to contact to better facilitate this change? How do I get my foot in the door? It seems that while there are clearly physicians who leave clinical medicine, once they do, they are nowhere to be found again. And as such, getting their advice or input is nearly impossible. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hi TTE-

      Thanks for reaching out! My own experience was in part due to good timing – I happened to be interested in consulting when an opportunity for an educational consultant position with the state became available. But it’s also important to realize that that opportunity was no way due to chance alone. I had met the hiring project director earlier at a conference I had attended when I was networking as a newly-minted consultant, and she knew who I was and was familiar with my skill set when this particular opportunity came up.

      I would strongly encourage you to put yourself out there in a way that also benefits you and is a good use of your time. Cold calls are tough, and really depend on a lot of stars lining up at the same time. I had really good results attending and networking at conferences that were related to my interests and skills sets, but not necessarily exclusively medical.

      There’s also a few organizations out there that cater specifically to physicians who are retracking into a non-clinical career path. I haven’t used them personally, but they may be worth checking out:

      http://www.nonclinicalcareers.com

      http://www.nonclinicaljobs.com

      Best wishes,

      ~lumi

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