This is my second interview with Michelle Mudge-Riley. You’ll learn her drive to help as many doctors as she can, teaching the principles that allowed her to leave clinical medicine and setting the scenes to establish the 2020 NEXT Conferences.
We also discuss what we’ve learned in our combined 30+ years of mentoring physicians to non-traditional paths.
REGISTER FOR THE 2020 NEXT Conferences (Physician Helping Physicians)
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Hey guys, this is Dr Mike Woo-Ming. Welcome to another edition of Bootstrap MD. Really excited on the program here. We’ve got one of our repeat guests, and if you don’t know who she is, or haven’t heard of her, I don’t know where you’ve been. Dr. Michelle Mudge-Riley has almost been synonymous with the word… When I think of “physician coach,” I think of her. We’ve known each other or known of each other each other for over a decade. But just like recently, in the last few years, we actually got together. I was blessed to be invited to speak at her conference, which was amazing and she has an outstanding conference that’s coming up that you really want to take notice of. So Michelle, before we go, and let me kind of give you the bio for those who you know, those three people who may not have heard about you, Dr. Michelle Mudge-Riley D.O. is a peer coach for other physicians and has spent over the decade of probably 15 years now close to and I believe, assisting physicians with career strategy. She has conducted seminars and spoken on topics related to change Man career transition, motivation, physician burnout mitigation, wellness, health education and MDMA at ACP, American College of physician executives. I think they change the names on that already. You’ve seen her… She’s written for Physician’s Practice Consultant, Life Physician, Executive Journal, and The D. O. She’s actually behind the scenes of a lot of physician, I guess influencers that you probably have heard of actively coaching them and helping them attain whatever their goals to it. She focuses on non-clinical jobs, and she’s got a conference that is coming up very, very soon, that we’re going to be doing virtual and I was invited again to speak at as well. So I’m super excited. And Michelle, that long bio, I hate these long string bios, nobody even remembers all of it. But thank you again for deciding to come on to the podcast today.
Thank you for having me. We’ve both been in this space for A long time. I mean, before all these Facebook groups and all these networking sites where we can meet each other and do cool things together, we were out there by ourselves. And I think you and I had kind of heard of each other. But it was years before we even made a connection.
Yeah, I think one of the first things I remember was, I like things that rhyme. And so I got this great idea physicians in transition… Physicians Transitions… And you already had a book on there! So I was like, “Oh, this is someone I need to follow.” So that was, that was cool. And we got together. We’ve been on a virtual mastermind over the last year or so. And then what was so amazing was in that conference in Texas, is you didn’t even really know what to expect. And it was, you know, filled out very, very quickly, and we’ll talk about that what you may have learned. Maybe it’s, you know, what have you learned from some of the students because I’m sure you’ve you followed up with them from that and why you decided to do another one? I know, Michelle, let’s let’s talk about it. I know, you have been working with physicians, I would say almost 15 years or what about 13… 14 years ago now?
It’s been 16 years officially since I left. Yeah, since I left. I just had an article in the queue to be published by Kevin MD. And that was when I was writing that I was thinking back and has it really been 16 years? And yes, it has, gosh, what a journey. It’s been. All of those things that you just described me doing, as, I mean, it’s been awesome. I’ve been able to really meet a lot of cool people and interact with them and do some cool things together with them. So I’m grateful for that and the friendships that I’ve made along the way, that’s been the best part.
So here, I don’t want to look too far in the past, but have you noticed things change? You know, since you started this way back when I know personally for myself when I wanted to look at anything other than a physician, it was like, don’t talk about it or, you know, don’t speak about it. And now we’ve got Facebook groups and conferences that are opening up. It’s really been amazing, but what have you seen because as you’re still coaching, right, or if you kind of put that in the back burner of late,
So I really am not taking on anyone new to coach it’s, it’s become too busy with all of the different consulting work that I’m doing. I will occasionally give people some advice, usually for free or do coaching sessions in a group setting for free, because there is so much need, but I’ve really sort of pivoted into providing a service that brings a lot of people together in a conference situation so that they can learn from others and learn more at once at a lower price point. So there was a time when I was coaching for thousands of dollars, and that gets expensive. I know it’s effective. And I think that’s awesome for people that want to invest in themselves, because they can make a very big impact by doing that. And I’ve had a lot of people make life changing decisions and career moves because of the coaching that we did together. And that has been very gratifying. And I’m still friends with many of them, because, I mean, how could you not become friends with them, but at the same time, I really wanted to be able to offer more to more people. And so I had this idea. I’ve had it for a long time to have a conference and I finally decided to do it on a larger scale in 2019. And we did it in person in Austin… Austin, Texas. And yes, we had almost 100 people there, which I was honored and humbled because it was my first conference. I didn’t know what I was doing. And it was amazing. The feedback was 100% of people would come back would recommend it to a friend. And I know that there were some great connections that were made there between attendees and speakers. And people got jobs from that conference, or they networked and became friends and are working on transitioning right now in different ways. So it was just an amazing thing. But afterwards, I was exhausted. And I wasn’t sure I would do another one. I thought, Well, okay, that’s great. We got a great conference, added tons of value, made friendships and just kind of sat back and took a deep breath and waited a little bit. And I have some other businesses that I was working on in the interim. And then I started to get that feeling, again that we all need to come together in this community, because nonclinical careers are very a niche thing within physician lives. And it’s…it’s tough because there’s a lot of fear there. And there can be some judgment or fear of judgment. And so I really wanted again to create that safe space for people.
Now, do you think it’s changed, though? Is it? Do you think it’s more open? Or do you still feel that it’s still a subset of doctors who are interested into it? And the majority of, you know, the so called, you know, everyday physicians are doing more traditional things, or is there more opportunity than there was?
You know, I think that it’s a I think that there are more people talking about it. So it may seem like there are more physicians interested in transitioning to a non clinical career, but I wonder if that’s just because there are are more places for us to talk about this, and more ways for us to get together and spread that word. You know, back in the early 2000s… 2004 or 5, there, it wasn’t talked about a whole lot. And we didn’t know that each other existed. And so that kind of fueled that fear. But I still think that that fear exists now. Because there’s… There’s a certain prestige to being a physician in some senses, or a certain feeling of I’ve worked really hard this hard, I really want to just be a doctor or the people around me just want to know me as a doctor. And so there needs to be a way for people to kind of explore this thought of non clinical in a safe way doesn’t mean they have to transition to a completely non clinical career. It could mean that they just start a side gig or they have multiple things going on and still practice I mean, a lot of people do that. So I have seen an increase in that. Yes.
Yeah, I think that I agree with you. I think that the… I know when I was before and I would, I would do like… I didn’t I didn’t do a lot of one-on-one coaching. I did more like a classroom campus setting. And I remember like spending a lot of time and my workshop just getting over the hump of, you know, okay, you spent all this time and money doing becoming a physician. I know it’s, it’s gonna be difficult. There’s a lot of people that pulling you away, and then really people… It really resonated. And then recently, I started doing that and it was more like, okay, we get it. Let’s find out what we want to do.
And then the other thing that I’ve noticed too, and maybe you… This is something that you have have changed because I know personally this has happened for you… Is this idea of multiple streams of income before it was… OK. Get this non clinical job, hopefully it’ll replace your physician income. But oftentimes, it is not. And I think for now more people have been open to the idea of these multiple streams, whether it is a side gig or two… Or investing. I know, you know, now as an entrepreneur, because you’re like me, you know, you can’t sit still and you decided to start up your own business and you’ve got this other thing here. And then you got the conference. What have you seen with with your students? Have you seen this kind of this, this now… Multiple streams that I’ve seen?
So I do see a lot of people who are interested in that, but at the same time, I think there’s a good subset of people who really just want to focus on one thing. Because to handle so many different things coming at them at once, and they really don’t even want to deal with that. They want to get their life together, get themselves back on track with either their wellness, their exercise… Eating right or their family situation. I know a lot of times, having young children makes it difficult to try to balance a bunch of different things at once. And so what I do hear from a lot of people is, yeah, I’m interested in doing a lot of different things, but I don’t think I’m ready for that. I just need to have something where I either replace my paycheck or get close enough that I can have a better life for myself a more balanced life, but still have one source of income from now. And then I can maybe have the space to look at some other things in the future. And I get that some people are sole breadwinners and they really can’t afford to build a medical writing gig and a real estate gig and open their own practice all at once where they’re not getting a bunch of income all at once. It’s down the road potentially, but there’s risk there and it’s not instant gratification.
I always like to play the contrary. And just to keep you guys on your toes here. Have you seen anything negative about all this, these groups and and talking about it and being out on the open? Have you seen any of that? Or is it is it been mostly positive?
Do you mean the different Facebook’s that are Facebook groups that are out there and then…
In general, just people talking about it more?
Yeah, yeah. So I think there’s pros and cons to everything. And social media does introduce a way for people to get their voice out there but it also introduces a way to bring negativity into the situation. Which can be good and bad again, it balances things.
One thing that I also see is… People really looking for a lot of free advice and not being willing to invest in themselves and whatever it is a real estate course or coaching or something where they are paying someone because there’s there’s a lot of ways to get information from these groups. And while I think that’s great, I think at some point you have to be ready to focus and maybe start small a couple hundred dollars here or there. I’m not saying you should drop 50 grand by any means. In fact, I would be very hesitant to even tell someone to do that ever. But before you’re paying thousands pay a few hundred dollars to dip your toe in a little deeper. Because at some point, you do have to focus and you have to figure out what you’re all about in order for you to kind of move forward and get better at that thing. And that can be anything that can be your own business that can be a weight loss thing that can be again a real estate thing I keep bringing up real estate has been talked about so much. I don’t do any real estate stuff, but everyone’s excited about it. So yeah… I guess so. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, goods and bad’s!
I mean, the one thing I find trouble with the Facebook groups are that I’m remember a post and I want to go back and find that information. And I can’t find it. Because the way that the different things are, I don’t even know the algorithms and they change all the time and, and they make different things pop to the top or go to the bottom. And maybe you saw something and you can’t find it now. And so that’s what I’m saying, When you’re ready to really get that information, you have to have a reliable place to go to, so that you can find that quickly. And and you have to know that the advice is real and true, because there’s also a lot of not true stuff that’s talked about. I’ll see all kinds of responses to a different question. And I’ll know that that this isn’t true at all, or this is bad advice. And no one’s monitoring those things because potentially the administrators they try but it’s hard to run these Facebook groups and they may not have the subject matter expertise to even know if the advice is is good or not.
So you’re telling me not everything on the Internet is true. Okay. It was it was funny, I was looking at something. I was looking at something we were just talking before the call. I’m reopening my clinic and I was looking for wipes of all things, you know, in mass. And not only did I not know where it was, I didn’t know what group I heard it was because I felt like there was like a URL where I could get masks inexpensive and I go, “I don’t even know what group I was in!
Yep, yeah, cuz there’s tons of them. I know. And it’s good information. But yeah, like? Where did I find that?
So let’s talk about coaching! Now from what you said here, you don’t have any current coaching clients as of this call right now?
No. So I do have a couple… They’re not long term coaching clients. Every once in a while I’ll take someone on and help them a bit… But it’s very niche and there are certain things that we’re working on together. It’s not like it used to be where I would really coach them from beginning to end of their transition. And again, pros and cons to all of that, but yes, my business has changed and evolved.
So I want to take you to task on something because I saw you posted a couple weeks ago where you said… I remember you telling me, “I’m not gonna do any active coaching,” but then you decided to do free coaching! What made you decide Do that and and what did you get out of that?
That is a great question. I know and had you asked me a year or two ago about that, I would have said “No way!” Because I do follow a lot of the other physicians out there that are doing really great things and you know, knowing your worth is a big deal. You really want to make sure that if you’re doing something you are adding value, so you need to be compensated for it. And I have added a lot of value. However, along with some of my new thought process of wanting to increase access to information, I have changed a little bit of my thought process there. So the groups offer a way for, again, a lot of our smart minds to come together. And I feel like it’s a good way to get information out there. So it doesn’t hurt me to provide what I’ve been doing for the past 16 years. And advice for people for an hour, an hour and a half. And oftentimes others will come with me. Other experts have reached out to me and said, Hey, I’m willing to do this as well. It’s kind of our way of giving back for all the years of being able to, to actually do these things and get paid. So that’s that’s a big reason why I did it. At first, I just tried it as an experiment, because I wasn’t sure if it would be useful or not. But I got so tired of seeing some bad advice out there, that I threw it out there one morning and just hit the Post button. And within like an hour, there were 100 comments on there. And people were saying, Yes, I want I want this, I want this, I want this. So I said, Alright, let’s do it. So we did we did our first session a couple of weeks ago. And it was so amazing. Lots of cool people who have never met me and I’ve never met and I got to meet them and others that I’ve met before were there and so I’m going to do more. I have one on site. Monday with another coach. We’re just we’re going to talk about our experiences where we both thought about leaving clinical medicine. I left, she didn’t. And what are those like? Yeah, what happened to both of us? And, you know, why do we do it that way? What’s our advice? And hopefully people can help get information for their own path and ask questions so that then they can decide, “Okay, what’s the right choice for me?:
Okay, so let’s get to clarify. So you did like a group coaching thing? It wasn’t really 200 one-on-one sessions for free. ,
Oh my goodness, no, no, no, no, no, no. Hopefully people didn’t think that!
Because often times, I’ve done some free consultations and then when I looked at to actually see the results, it’s you know, the ones who’ve always paid are the ones always got more skin in the game and much more often they take action. They give free advice, you know, how much free advice is worth right? So that’s what clarification on so we’re still good on that. We’re still on the same page.
Yeah. Well, I mean, we are but you’re right in mentioning that free advice is worth what you know, I mean, just almost the amount that you pay for it potentially. So there’s a balance there and I don’t know what the right with the right balances but you know, Facebook groups are free.
True as in everything, but I don’t know if I would go to a surgeon. You know, I want to pick the cheapest surgeon. So, yeah, that’s right. So let’s talk about it that we talked about the past. Well, let’s talk about the conference you had last year. It was a success. It was amazing. I know that there’s people out there. Maybe we can talk about that. Like, when it was over and you came out… I know you were in hibernation, because I couldn’t contact you. It was like on Skype when it says inactive You know, Michelle?
Out of the office!
Out of the office, right! What did you hear back? Can you explain what it was? Just so people who didn’t hear about the conference know what it was all about? And then what did you learn from it?
Yeah, yeah. So I decided to finally throw this conference again after talking about it for years and years and years. And I call it a celebration conference where we would all come together and kind of meet each other because I had been coaching at that point for 15 years. And most of my coaching is virtual. And so I hadn’t met 90% of the people that I’d worked with or talk to, and there were a lot of us out there who have been just in different places in the country and never had a chance to meet but we’re all doing cool things. So I called it a celebration conference. It was a donation only type of a situation. And I bore all the risk for the rental of the hotel and the rooms and the food. And everything. I just thought I’d throw it out there. And it was, you know, really, really great. So that was that. And what I heard from people was how many really great friendships that they formed from that. I guess it was kind of like a free thing, but most people did end up donating. So that was nice. I did end up covering my costs, and I broke even for the conference. Well, maybe I paid a little bit, but it wasn’t that I was out 10s of thousands of dollars. So that’s good. Because I don’t have that to be out. But when I was kind of in that hibernation, I kept getting messages from people about “When’s the next conference, we need to have another one. Will you have another one? Are you having another one?” There were posts on the Facebook groups as physicians helping physicians having another conference. And so I just sort of took all of that and and processed it and I wasn’t Gonna do it unless I was ready because it is a big undertaking, virtual or not. And this one is virtual. And, but it was just again time and I looked back and I think, “Gosh, what would have happened had I stayed in pathology?” Because that’s where where I was training and what would my life have been like because that’s what I thought my life would be I’d be a pathologist living happily ever after for years and years and years and wondering what if and “Oh, maybe I should have just stayed.” And you know, so many amazing things have happened like this that I really, I’m so glad it worked out this way. I never probably would have done this had I been able to see what would happen because it’s been very scary to in a lot of ways and risky and you know, people have said mean things to me and judge me and all you know, it happens to everyone but when you’re going down the path less traveled that happens more often. It has worked out and I’m grateful for that. And so I like to share that and share the value that I have, which is tons of connections. Hopefully I can help other people get non clinical jobs if that’s what they want to do and, or maybe they’ll form companies together or, you know, start other things together and they would meet at my conference and, you know, a virtual conference is no different from an in person other than the obvious. You can still make connections, there’s going to be really cool networking platform that people are going to be amazed to see. It’s really very few people have seen it before it’s from out of a startup. So it’s gonna be pretty cool.
Yeah, just remember that only one of the conferences whether it be virtual or physical are pants optional, so I just want you to be aware.
That’s right. That’s right.
So let’s talk about this conference that’s coming up. What is it as things change? When is it? Give us the details.
All right. So it’s a three part conference. And again, in the whole spirit of making sure that this is accessible, and create your own experience as possible, people don’t have to sign up for all three, you can sign up for one, two or three, we have a buy two, get one free, special going on right now for a limited time. And it’s only $385 per conference. So definitely accessible for people. The price does go up Actually, today, I’m gonna give you a coupon code that you can post in the show notes that’ll give people it’ll take the price back down for them if they are listening to this after today. Yeah, just for your listeners. So remind me to do that. But the first event is in July, and it’s really exploring a non clinical career, you know, what does it mean? What are the pros and cons? What should I think expect? Do I need to hire a coach? Should I should I even consider that? What are what are the basic options? How do you get past the feeling of I don’t want to be a doctor anymore. And so we’ll talk about all of those things. And that’s really kind of always the first step with people. The second conference in September is a long conference about your options. I will have over 25 doctors talking about their different careers, non clinical and non traditional careers. So you will hear in depth information about the pros, the cons, the salary, the hours, how to get into things, resources, if you want to get into what they’re doing, and all specialties I mean, I have pediatrics I have pathologists I have family medicine doctors internal medicine. anesthesiologists surgeons, you know, the gamut. Because the the physicians I’ve worked with have never just been one specialty. So I really find that all specialties are potentially interested in a non clinical career and can do it. And then in November, we’ll have a “making it happen” conference where those people who are really, really ready are going to get group coaching from a variety of different coaches. So I will have life coaches there, I’ll have real estate coaches, I’ll have resume coaches, I’ll have starting your own business, entrepreneurship coaches, you name it, and you can come and you can go to different breakout sessions, you can ask questions about your unique situation, you can get your resume done and and your elevator pitch created, interview questions kind of practice and so people can attend wherever they feel like they are in that spectrum of just starting out are really ready, or sort of in the middle. Or again, you can attend all three, So that’s what 2020 is going to look like.
And then what I like about it is that there is interaction. It’s not just sitting and just watching, right? You, you just mentioned that they can actually get some real feedback.
Right, yes! we’re gonna have networking as a component. And people say you can’t network and meet people in a virtual way. And maybe that was true at one point, but that’s no longer true. You just have to get creative about it, use the right software platforms, and really design the whole thing in a certain way. And so, you know, I’d love to hear feedback after this is over from people. If they felt like they were able to interact. Of course, is not an in person conference. So, you know, it’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges. And I’m going to be really sad if people are saying, well, this wasn’t an in person conference. No, it isn’t an in person conference, it’s a virtual conference. But that means you can be at home you don’t have to travel. You can eat your own food. You can attend some sessions, you can watch replays of others, and you can still meet people. And you can still forge those valuable connections and bonds. And it’s up to you just like an in person conference afterwards to follow up and pursue those. Because no matter what, no matter where you go or attend, or what course you do, if you don’t implement and put the work in and follow up later, there are no results. And so a conference is only as good as what you end up doing with the information.
Yeah, I love physical conferences, but obviously, in this time, you know, what we’ve learned. And, you know, unfortunately, though, is but fortunate for being interactive is more and more people are comfortable using Zoom or whatever you’re using for your webcams. So I think a lot of people get this distance education and how you can really benefit from it. So you mentioned, you know, some of the speakers, we want to talk about some, maybe point out, you know, some of the people who will be participating in teaching this.
Yeah. So you’ll be there, you’ll be one of the speakers,
Which will be great. We really run the gamut of different options for physicians. So if you’re interested in utilization review work, we have people there who are talking about their experience and helping those who are interested in that. We have people who are talking about pharma, biotech MSL careers, which are all options for physicians, whether you’ve done a residency or not. We have people talking about medical writing careers, entrepreneurship, careers, even sales. I know sales for some people is kind of a dirty word. But there are some people who loves sales and who are really good at it. And so I really try to have a good balance of these different things because one thing isn’t right for everybody.
Great, great, great and what it was great, at least for the conference that was before was, you know, I’m looking at some of the names by the way I didn’t even know before, and you have such an extensive Rolodex of people and I got to introduce myself to a number of them that I still connect with to this day. So, you know, thank you for putting on such a wide variety of different experiences and even things I never even you know heard about that what you could do for generating your own income. So we got that we got the lake Who is this ideally for like, who is the who would benefit the most from this?
Yeah, the people that benefit the most from this conference are those who are thinking about a non clinical career, you don’t have to be actively pursuing one. But those people who are actively pursuing one, this is kind of an ideal fit, because you really get to know all your options, maybe even options you haven’t considered. And you get to take steps towards making that your reality and knowing what it takes to get into a certain field. So that’s why I divided the conference into three different events really, so that I could be a value to those who are just dipping their toe in the water curious Maybe not ready yet, but just want to know more. And then those people who are like, ready, but I may have missed an option or I just am not able to get into something. what’s what’s going on what, you know, what are options I may not have considered or what is there something that I’m not seeing that maybe I can modify or pivot on and then that’ll make all the difference? Because sometimes that’s it. I mean, I know people, one person who’s speaking and tried for six to eight months to get an MSL role and those are, they’re tough, but this guy is awesome. He speaks to people really well. He comes across well, that just wasn’t happening. We made a couple tweaks on his resume, boom, he got the job. So sometimes it’s as easy as that. You never know.
What I love with the work that you’re doing is you can really tell that you really do care about doctors, helping them where they’re at. Putting on a conference, you know, just kind of see if it’s gonna work or not spending thousands of dollars. You know, you’re not getting rich from this, I think, you know, there’s no art to your motive, it’s just helping other doctors getting to where they need to be. And really what it’s all about is we need to be helping our fellow physician because really, nobody really helping us. They do it, you know. And that’s what I love what you’re doing. It comes from a place of love and respect, and just helping one another. Maybe the title says it itself, Physicians Helping Physicians. That’s what it’s all about. Michelle, any last words of advice before we end the call today?
I would just say, if you’re if you’ve even thought about a non clinical career, and you’re not sure what it means, or what it might mean for you, at least check this out. It’s something that doesn’t go away for people. If you have that interest or just that intrigue you really have to explore it. And maybe then you find it isn’t for you and that’s okay and you find what’s better for you that’s great. But if you have that spark of you know “Something isn’t quite right I want to explore something else. I’m not sure what that is or what that looks like.” Come start exploring because that’s the only way to to get to the other side and find out what it is that you’re looking for. I know people have come to me after years they say of either looking at my website or following these different things or lurking on Facebook groups or knowing about a lot of us out there but not really doing anything. Just do it just jump in and see. Spend a couple hundred dollars and if it isn’t right for you, then you know at that point and you can move on and if it is, then you can kind of start honing in on what it is that is best fit for you.
Really great words of advice. One thing I just want to add to it is that, I didn’t get to be where I am, if I did it all by myself. It required somebody to help me a mentor, a colleague to get me where I am. And it doesn’t matter if it’s another business, it doesn’t matter if it’s a non clinical job, it’s who you know, or more money, who knows you. And that’s why I’ve always felt conferences, whether it be physical or virtual, is really the key to success, I believe, to getting to where you want I know as as doctors, we’re used to being the decision makers, everything falls on us. We don’t want you know, it’s considered weakness if we asked for help, but I know you didn’t get to be where you are. I need to be where I am. All your speakers didn’t get to be where they are just because we knew somebody and it’s just this added synergy of people helping another really is what gets us to where we want to be.
Thank you Michelle. I know you’re busy with your move and conference and the kids and your other businesses. So let’s get back to your to do list for today. Thank you so much for Sharing. And as always guys don’t become stagnant. Keep moving forward.