Medicine and Money/A Doctor Guy/Be What You Is

        I was a doctor guy, not a money guy.  I made a decent enough living, and never worried about my reputation as a businessman.  I guess it showed.  One time a consultant was in the office, and told me the reason I was in the 25th percentile for earnings was because I spent too much time thinking about my patients and not enough ordering tests.  That didn’t offend me.  I was happier that I’d made the 94th percentile on my Boards, and even more proud of how I got along with my patients.  I had a few I couldn’t talk turkey with, but for the most part we were a good team.  I feel like on a given day the odds for me to guide them through this complex modern medical system were as good as anybody’s.

        In spite of not being a financial home run hitter, I hope my doctor life was a success from the other aspects.  I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”  Maybe it is un-American, but I never saw it that way.  I drove the same old Scout for a quarter million miles.  It was a reliable old horse, and got me back and forth to the hospital at night without fail.  I didn’t see any need to change.  I made enough to educate my children and we got our house paid off five years ago, so I think I did O.K. 

        Besides, the way I see it, I never went to work for a living.  All I do is walk around and be Dr. Bibey, and at the end of the month someone sends a check.  My wife says I’m gonna get all the way to the finish line and never go to work. That’s true- except for those summer jobs on the paving crew or in the cardboard box factory I didn’t.  I don’t go to work, I just live the doctor gig.  It is what I am.  I see my folks at church and go over their treadmill or x-ray report, and I’ve hit many a practice ball while I listened to a golf pal’s troubles.  I ain’t complaining.  At my age I’m just glad someone wants my opinion.  Without the doctor gig, I’m a second rate mandolin player and a third rate golfer, so I better hang onto it.  It was the only thing I was ever any good at.

        Once I heard someone ask the great Sam Bush about the pay scale in bluegrass music (it ain’t what it oughta be) and Sam just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m a music guy, not a money guy- I don’t know.”  I thought it was a great line, so I borrowed it from Sam.  “I’m a doctor guy, not a money guy, so I don’t know much about it.”  I figure as long as there are people on earth who can’t afford food, and my old buddies at the plant have to spend a huge chunk of their wage just to get to work, and as long as this society undervalues major contributors like teachers as much as we do, it would border on sinful for me not to be satisfied with my lot in life.

        I think Bill Monroe would say it something like this, “Be what you is, ’cause if you ain’t what you is you ain’t nothing.”  I appreciate you guys visiting me, ’cause the blog gig is only my attempt as an ordinary doctor guy to leave behind some of my thought process.  I figure the Internet is as good a place as any to record it.  All I could be was what I was, and if it helps anyone after I’m gone that’s all the better.

Dr. B 

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14 Comments on “Medicine and Money/A Doctor Guy/Be What You Is”

  1. Cindy Carter Says:

    Dr. B. You have it right. When you work for the money, the money owns you, you don’t own it. You momma and your daddy raised you well. As long as you care about the people more than you care about the money, you will always be rich!

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    Such true words you write, my friend.

    Dr. B

  3. keepbreathing Says:

    A guy could learn a lot from you. Your thinking today reminds me of Thoreau, in his essays from Walden Pond; as Cindy mentioned, there comes a point when your possessions own you. Sometimes it’s good to just be content and focus on living, not competing.

  4. drtombibey Says:

    keepbreathing,

    That is so cool you said that, ’cause I dug Thoreau all the way back to high school, but I didn’t tell my buddies at the time. I was not sure they’d understand.

    Dr. B

  5. Amber Says:

    Dr. B. You know there is a great saying about life. Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want. I think your post here summed that up beautifully.

    Everyone needs to make a living. Doctors have huge bills to pay from their educations once they get out of school. I have no problem with them getting rewarded for their intern years if nothing else. That just sucks. The stress and lack of personal life etc is horrendous.

    Still, you come to a point in your life that you realize how much do you really need to live a comfortable existence? I think you have your priorities right… A bluegrass playing Country Doctor. There are alot worse things a person could be…………….

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Amber,

    My guy who did the retirement plan says I am comfortable but far from wealthy, so that is O.K. with me. In other words, I still need to work, but I enjoy it anyway. But, I don’t have to work so hard that I’d work my self to death.

    I do feel sorry for the young ones coming along, though. I don’t think I could pay back the med school debt and raise a family with what I make now.

    Back in the days when we did it all, it was quite stressful, but I was young then and could take it. Now we have hospitalists and we have a much more laid back life. I am sort of a gentleman farmer doctor compared to the old days. (which is part of why I have time to write) I am lucky to have the opportunity to work this way. In many places they do not have that luxury.

    At this age, if I had to work the old way, though, I’d have to retire. I just couldn’t do it any more.

    Dr. B

  7. president of Neuse River fan club in Mississippi Says:

    Doc,great article, it is always good to reflect on our purpose in life. The main idea of the article to me is to be content in a person’s life. When people realize it is not about us, gestalt living occurs. Testing your vocab.

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Smitty,

    Hey thanks. Yeah, one thing that is cool about bluegrass folks is they tend to be gestalt kinda people. And, they are deceptive as far as vocabulary and book learning.

    One of the smartest cats I ever heard talk was more country than me, and had a great big vocabulary- he just liked to fool people. His name was Jerry Clower.

    Warn’t he a Mississippi boy?

    Dr. B

  9. mrschili Says:

    One can’t be a “money guy” and be a “teacher guy” at the same time. I’m fortunate that my husband’s an engineer and, even though he’s not making as much as many of his colleagues in private industry (he’s a research engineer at a university) he pays the bills so I can live a teacherly life, which is all I ever wanted.

  10. pandemonic Says:

    This is so true, Dr. B. If you are doing what you love, the money will find you. Sounds pretty zen to me, but it works.

  11. drtombibey Says:

    mrschili,

    I understand. Sometimes it is a bit like the old farmer. Someone asked what he would do if he had a million dollars and he said, “Well, I guess I’d just keep on farming till I ran outta money.”

    Early on, I decided if I was a country doc for 25 years, I couldn’t get rich or starve to death either one, so I wasn’t gonna worry about and just try to be the best Doc I could be. As it turns out, it all worked out that way.

    Dr. B

  12. drtombibey Says:

    ms. Pande,

    From here on out, I’m the zen doctor. I dig that.

    Dr. B

  13. Smitty Pres. of Neuse River Fan Club Mississippi Says:

    Yes, Mr Clower was a Mississippi boy. He was raised, Route 4 Liberty Mississippi in the quarters of a saw mill, sixteen years older than his mother. Sorry, I just had to reply again to a Mississippian who touched the hearts of so many people. Happy Fourth, our Land’s birthday!

  14. drtombibey Says:

    My Mississippi heroes, in no particular order, are Faulkner, Jerry Clower, Marty Stuart, Smitty, the Bread Loaf English teacher, and your English students at Saltillo High.

    Dr. B


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