Life Lessons from a New Attending


Congratulations to all of the attendings recently out of residency, and the residents that are finishing up and can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Six months ago, I was crying and hugging my classmates and attendings at my very last graduation in life. Crossing from an emergency medicine resident to an attending has been nerve-wracking, but highly educational and rewarding. Over the last few months, I’ve been able to reflect on some of the things that I’ve learned. Here are a few:

Treat yourself

Three and a half years of undergrad, two years of graduate school, three and a half years of medical school and three years of residency equals twelve years of being broke and short on time. My friends that are not in medicine are well into their careers and are able to afford things and experiences that I wanted. So post-residency, I’ve gifted myself some high-end items I’ve wanted. I’m spending more time with my friends having long and gossipy brunches.  I treated myself to a bucket list getaway to Maine during lobster season. Take the time to indulge yourself, a least a little bit. After spending years in giving to others, you deserve some reciprocity. 

Pursue your own goals

I think the best thing about being an attending is having the time freedom to do what I would like to do. No more 7am Thursday lectures! So I have spent some time exploring business opportunities, service projects, writing and media, passions that began to blossom in residency, but I felt as though I had no time to do. What have you been interested in, but too strapped for time to explore? Now is your time to delve deep and try something new.

Make smart financial decisions

As an emergency doc, I’m an independent contractor. To me, it was a whole new world of understanding PLLC, LLC, tax structure, deductions, write-offs...the list goes on and on. Before I finished residency, I consulted with a reputable accountant in my area that worked with several emergency physicians in my area. After I got out and started making a little money I realized that I needed some more guidance. I hired a financial planner to continue my wise decisions to help me better frame and achieve my financial goals. Although we know a lot about saving lives, most physicians don’t know as much about planning their financial futures. Take some time to hire a financial planner, and stay educated on finances via The White Coat Investor, Physician on FIRE, Financial Residency or any other resources geared towards high-income earners.

Invest in your health

Moving to Memphis for residency was one of the best decisions I made in my life. It’s a rapidly developing and improving city with a great food, great music and rich in culture. Unfortunately, I indulged way too much in the amazing food and didn’t exercise nearly enough!  I’ve made my health and fitness a priority again by getting an accountability partner. Make time in your schedule to enjoy foods that you love, but also check up on yourself and your health. Take some time to see your primary care physician and tackle your health goals.

These are just a few of the things that I have learned in six short months, not even mentioning increasing my clinical knowledge. I’m looking forward to seeing how many more life lessons I glean as I continue life as an attending.

Kimberly Brown