When Quit Happens: Meet 'Quitting By Design' Author, Dr. Lynn Marie Morski
TransforMD: Describe your traditional path in medicine:
Lynn Marie: I completed residency in Family Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in 2008, finished Sports Medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona in 2009, and moonlit at an urgent care until starting to work in the Compensation and Pension department at the Veterans Administration in 2010, which I did until May of 2019.
TransforMD: What was the turning point or inspiration for you to make a major shift in your career? What are you doing differently now?
Lynn Marie: The major shift in my career was in fellowship when my heart was racing so badly in clinic that I had to take beta blockers and I finally realized that the problem wasn't my heart, the problem was that my heart wasn't in seeing patients.
At that point I had a discussion with my fellowship director, who agreed to help me through the rest of the year (I finished and even passed sports medicine boards), but I decided at that time that I needed to find a way out of clinical medicine.
I applied for and was offered a job teaching doctors how to use the McKesson EMR, but it was more travel than I wanted, so I declined it. Instead I went with the job at the VA because it was only 2 days a week, I could make my own schedule, and it was barely clinical - I wasn't treating patients, there was no call and no pager and no follow up.
Working two days a week allowed me to try other things to try to find my path. I went to law school, graduated, and passed the bar. I was cofounder, chief medical officer and in-house legal counsel of a startup. After a year of that, I left and became an adjunct professor of health law at my former law school. After that I worked in nonpartisan political social media marketing (yes, that's a mouthful).
One day I woke up and realized that I'd done eleventy thousand things - none of which actually made me excited to get up in the morning. In my determination to find that thing, I did some soul searching and decided it was my path to pass on the superpower that had kept protecting me from getting stuck in any of the situations that weren't right for me - my ability to strategically quit them.
That led to the book I wrote, Quitting by Design, and the podcast I host, called Quit Happens. A month ago I finally took my ultimate advice and quit the golden handcuffs that had kept me financed all these years, but that had also kept me incredibly anxious: the VA.
Now I have both a blank slate and a full canvas of opportunities. I will be starting a second podcast helping to educate both doctors and patients on the benefits and uses of plant medicines. And through the message I have myself gotten through plant medicine ceremonies, I am more than reassured that I am on the right track and that the path to whatever is next will unfold exactly as it should.
TransforMD: Did you have doubts or hurdles along the way? What was the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is having $250,000 in loans and having to pay those and my expenses alone. I haven't overcome it. Both the extreme loans and the ridiculous cost of living alone in sunny San Diego, California (don't feel too sorry for me:) are still present. I instead get to choose to see them as a blessing, as they make me entirely more relatable than someone for whom money has come easily or who has a partner to offset some of the cost of living. Giving advice to someone who may need to quit their job is much better received if they feel that I know their struggle, I know what it's like to have huge loans and no savings and no one to help out. So I'm well aware this, like the rest of my interesting journey, is all part of the plan.
TransforMD: Imagine you could travel back in time and give yourself an important piece of advice. What would it be, and when would have been the most important time in life to receive it?
Lynn Marie: I wouldn't. Every last *mistake* I have made has led to where I am right now, and every day I am presented with new evidence that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. Yes, that may be the most Southern California hippie answer ever, but I was raised in a conservative, Catholic household in southern Illinois. I know what it looks like to have regret or to shame yourself for a decision you made. That's basically standard protocol there. But if I were to go back and give myself advice, I may have made different choices, and I don't regret any of the choices I've made - like my extreme student debt, the tough times have all taught me lessons that I now get to pass along to others.
TransforMD: How do the mission and agenda of TransforMD speak to women physicians who are wanting some change but not sure what to do or how to do it?
Lynn Marie: Female physicians are subject to a unique set of pressures, and often once you enter the medical or motherhood machine, it's hard to stop and take a breath and figure out whether what you're doing is truly serving you. That's where TransforMD is so crucial. It helps women take that time out and gives them the tools to create (or re-create) a life that's aligned with their passions and purpose.
You can follow Dr Morski on Instagram @quittingbydesign or @plantmedicinedotorg, on Twitter @quithappens, and on Facebook @quittingbydesign or @plantmedicinepodcast.