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For this edition of the X-ray Beam, I would like to go behind the scenes and get an in-depth look into a fellow physician blogger Cory Fawcett, who runs the website, Prescription for Financial Success.
Cory is a renowned author and creator of the successful “The Doctors Guide To” series of books aimed at helping medical professionals achieve financial success.
So without further ado, I am honored to present to you Dr. Cory Fawcett:
If you can please give a brief introduction of yourself (age, medical specialty, years of medical practice)
I practiced general surgery in a single specialty private practice in the small town of Grants Pass, Oregon, for 20 years. Followed by 3 years of part time locums work where I helped lone surgeons in rural locations, giving them some needed time off.
During those locums years, I began writing The Doctors Guide series of books, blogging, speaking, and coaching to help physicians gain a better understanding of personal finance and what it takes to live a great life as a doctor.
I left clinical medicine in February of 2017, at the age of 54.
Now, I’m 56, financially independent, and living a new mission teaching doctors about finance and living a better life.
I don’t like to say I retired, I prefer re-purposed.
1) First off, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to answer these questions.
I love the ode to medicine with your blog name, “Prescription for Financial Success”.
What were some of the other names you considered before going with this one?
I wanted the name to be “Prescription for Success,” but it was taken.
I’m about more than just the finances, however, becoming debt free and financially independent is a big component of what I teach.
I also thought of using “Guiding Doctors”, “Doctors Without Debt”, and “The Debt Free Doctor”.
2) Speaking of our profession in medicine, when did you know you wanted to become a doctor?
Were there any influential people or events that made you embark on this career path?
As a kid, my grandfather used to sit me on his lap and read me the children’s book, “Doctor Goat.”
It was about a goat who was a doctor.
He went around helping all the other animals get well.
At the end of the book, the doctor gets sick and finds he gave out his last pills.
So he went to bed to get some sleep.
While he was sleeping, all the animals he had helped, came to his house to help him by doing his chores, cooking him dinner and helping him like he had helped them.
The book ends with: The very next day, he was on his way. Three cheers for Doctor Goat.
I think that book is the reason I became a doctor.
Today my grandfather’s copy of “Doctor Goat” sits on my bookshelf in a prominent place of honor.
3) What were some of the deciding factors that led into choosing the medical specialty of surgery?
Were there any other specialties that you considered?
At the end of my third year of medical school, I almost quit.
I had recently recorded a musical album of songs I had written and had a whole lot more fun doing that than I had been having in medical school.
I debated leaving medicine to become a full time musician.
The first clinical rotation of my third year was pediatrics.
I was sick the entire 3 months.
Every kid I saw shared their ailment with me.
The second rotation was OB/GYN.
I hated the smells in the delivery room and the smells in the clinic.
My third rotation was Internal Medicine at the VA hospital.
It seemed those people could not be cured.
Every patient seemed to return over and over again with the same problem.
- The diabetic with his 15th hospitalization for hyperglycemia.
- The COPD patient who kept coming back in crisis, but refused to quit smoking.
It seemed that we were never making any headway in ridding these patients of their ailment.
Each of these rotations lasted 3 months.
So, now after 9 months of clinical medicine, I was ready to throw in the towel.
This was not what I signed up for.
I was thinking about that album I had recorded and had a tough decision to make.
Do I stick out medical school or do I quit and pursue music as a career instead?
My next rotation was general surgery.
One week into that rotation I knew I had found my calling.
These doctors fixed things!
I realized that I was a fix-it man.
When a patient came in with appendicitis, I could take out their appendix, which cured them, so they would never have that problem again.
I really loved Surgery.
Suddenly I was excited about medicine again.
I practiced general surgery and loved it until my retirement from clinical medicine in 2017.
I’m still a fix-it man, but now I fix the personal finances of doctors.
4) If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same medical profession/specialty?
5) If you were not a physician, what alternative career would you have gone into?
There are two secondary careers that I considered.
The first I mentioned above was music.
I played guitar and was the lead singer in a band for 5 years before attending Stanford University.
I write songs and play multiple instruments.
I almost left medical school to pursue music full time when I recorded my album called “All Work and No Play” during medical school.
I chose to stay in medicine and play music for fun.
Today I play here and there and once a month I am the worship leader at my church.
I’ve been the lead in a musical, formed a men’s quartet, lead Christmas carols in the community Christmas concert, played Christmas music at nursing homes, formed bands for single shows and much more.
So I have continued using my musical skills throughout my life.
The second career alternative I might have pursued was computer programming.
I was a senior at Stanford, right in the heart of silicon valley, when the Apple Macintosh came out.
Programming was my favorite class in college.
I completed all of my computer projects well before their due date and my highest grades in college were in my computer programming classes.
I finished with a 106% average.
My computer programing TA asked me what I wanted to do for a living.
I told him I was going to be a doctor.
His comment was “what a waste.”
He thought anyone who could get good grades could become a doctor.
Not everyone had my gifts and abilities in programming.
I wonder what might have happened if I had swapped plans at that point.
I was in the right place at the right time for personal computer programming.
Maybe I would have been up there with Microsoft and Apple.
6) Physicians have gained notoriety for being bad at finance. Why do you suppose that is the case?
I think that since physicians make a lot of money, they think it doesn’t matter if they make a few mistakes with their money.
They will just earn some more.
That might have worked well 40 years ago.
But, now the debt burden of training physicians is so high, that the wiggle room for mistakes has narrowed.
Physicians, being very bright people, think they can figure out anything.
So they venture off into finance ill prepared, thinking their knowledge in one area, spills over into others.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
If doctors would put the same effort into personal finance as they put into learning the Krebs cycle, they would do well.
It’s not that hard to figure out.
7) Have you personally fallen trap to any of the typical mistakes physicians make, and if so can you name some of your biggest ones?
Even someone who is aware of the traps can still fall in them.
I can think of two big ones that stand out.
The first was trying to time the market.
I know this is not possible.
Yet I jumped in, more than once, to get in on a hot new stock at the ground floor.
It turns out there are several floors below the ground floor for most hot new stocks.
The second big mistake cost me more than a million dollars of my net worth.
I invested heavily into a business that I was not familiar with (that’s a warning bell).
The business lingered on for 16 years before folding, having never made me one cent.
Had I invested that money properly, it would have been worth more than a million dollars today.
Live and learn you say?
I already knew that investing in something that I wasn’t knowledgeable in isn’t wise, but I did it anyway.
Knowing the right thing to do, and doing the right thing, are very different.
Sometimes we just get in our own way.
8) There seems to be a surge in Physician financial blogs these days, which I am guilty of being a part of.
What do you think has been the driving factor behind this and do you think it is a sign that physicians are finally waking up to the importance of financial literacy?
I don’t think it is a sign of physicians waking up.
I think it is a sign that physicians are fed up.
Physicians are looking for something else to do as they are finding medicine unrewarding.
That is why my book “The Doctors Guide to Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement” is so popular.
Once bloggers started revealing the amount of income they were making blogging, physicians began to see that they could make more money blogging than they do in medicine.
There is a low threshold of effort to start a blog as compared to many other business ideas, it can be started and built up without quitting their day job.
Blogging is just one of the alternatives physicians can pick, and it is hot now, so it is no surprise that the number of physician financial bloggers is expanding.
Once they figure out how much effort and time it takes to be successful, many will move on to something else.
When I started my first book, “The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right” I didn’t even know blogging was a thing.
Later, I realized that it was a way to gain a bigger audience, so I jumped in as a way to promote my books.
I think I was about the 5th doctor financial blogger at the time.
I only knew of one other, and that was because my publisher pointed it out.
Now I think there are more than 50.
[If you haven’t discovered it yet, “The Hospital” is a doctor’s blog post aggregator that allows you to see the latest post from every physician blogger in it (currently 71). Please bookmark it and visit it daily to keep up to date with all of the content from your colleagues and friends]
9) You are a well-known author among the physician finance community with the successful Doctor’s Guide To series.
Did you have any prior experience with authoring and publishing a work?
What were some of the challenges you faced writing this series?
I had no prior authoring or publishing experience.
In my practice, I was the partner who read and edited all the contracts and policies.
I started writing after attending a conference on career alternatives for doctors.
I decided to take my avocation of teaching personal finance up to the level of a vocation.
To do that, I needed to establish myself as the authority on the subject.
The best way to become an authority on a subject is to write a book.
So I did.
Then I took my book to a publisher who decided to turn my idea into a book series.
I wrote the first draft of book one in the series in 30 days.
Seven months later “The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right” was available for purchase.
After finishing the first three books, I stopped writing and concentrated on promoting my books.
Promoting has been harder than writing.
I will be returning to the writing phase soon.
I anticipate that The Doctors Guide series will end up with about a dozen books.
The biggest challenge I faced in writing my books was actually sitting down to write every day.
I figured that if I wrote 1,000 words a day, in a month I could have the rough draft of a 30,000 word book written.
Keeping the momentum going is key.
10) Do you have any pearls of wisdom/advice to aspiring authors who may want to publish a work on their own?
Don’t die with the idea of a book still in your head.
So many people have a book in them that never gets written.
They just never get around to starting.
I remember hearing a joke about Hollywood.
If you walk down the street in Hollywood and just stop any random person and ask them “How is your screenplay coming?” They will respond, “It’s almost finished.”
Everyone in Hollywood is writing a screenplay, but no one is finishing.
Just get started, keep going, and before you know it, your first draft will be complete.
Starting is half [the job] done.
The second piece of advice is to hire an editor.
Do not ask your English major friend to edit your book.
Do not try to edit it yourself.
Hire a professional editor so that your finished product is professional.
You are a professional so make your book reflect that fact.
It is so easy to put out a self-published book today and I see way too many self-published books that are in dire need of editing.
Don’t put all that effort into something that is almost finished.
The finishing steps are an editor and proof readers.
11) For a reader unfamiliar to your website, what are three posts you are most proud of that they can gain an insight about you and your philosophies?
- “The One Statement Every Doctor Must Learn” teaches you what it takes to live within your means.
- “Your Spouse is Your Greatest Financial Asset” enforces the fact that your spouse can make or break your finances.
- “Don’t Buy a House When You Get a Job” discusses the potential detriment to your wealth that may occur if you rush to own a house.
- Wait until the time is right.
- Property is not going anywhere and it will still be there when you are financially better prepared.
At this point Dr. Fawcett was about to answer the next question when the X-ray tech rushed in, panting, saying they needed the table for a stat Barium Enema.
Cory, who has always placed the patient first, graciously offered to come back tomorrow and continue the examination.
I hope you join us tomorrow for the stunning conclusion on another rare Friday XRAYVSN post.
(and if you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to this blog so that you will never miss another post again. It brings a lot of happiness to me seeing my subscriber list steadily growing-Xrayvsn)
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