By Dr. Brian Dixon|Jun 2, 2020
By 34 years old I was almost completely burnt out working as a psychiatrist. I’d spent three years across three health networks, laboring in a system that felt more like tedious administrative work than true patient care. I was told to double-book clients, and spent hours pushing papers when I could have been helping patients. I was checking boxes just for the sake of making sure they were checked.
This wasn’t the patient-forward system I’d imagined in medical school. Burnout hit me hard and fast.
Fortunately, 34 years old was also the year my career changed forever. I resigned from my last hospital job to launch Progressive Psychiatry, a private practice in Fort Worth, Texas.
Starting a business wasn’t easy. But immediately I realized the benefits of operating a healthcare practice on my own terms: I stopped double-booking, accepting insurance, and jumping through the dozens of exorbitant administrative tasks that had plagued my early medical career.
I could finally give more of my time to helping my patients.
And it worked. Now, six years and multiple awards later, Progressive Psychiatry is moving into its next iteration: an attempt to combine the benefits of private mental health practices with scalable small business resources.
Progressive Psychiatry is re-launching as Mindful.
Over the last 6 years, we’ve grown from therapy and responsible medication management into other areas: teaching, coaching, integrative medicine, community advocacy. We needed a brand and a vision that focused on more than just psychiatry. Mindful is a first step toward creating a network of private psychiatrists that supports one another, mitigates common problems (like physician burnout), and ultimately helps us all deliver better services to our patients.
Happy doctors cultivate happy patients.
When I proposed a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) of a mental health office building in a park (see my blogpost re: Mindful at Glenwood Park), the response was overwhelmingly positive. While that project is still a few years away, it dawned on me that we don’t have to wait to launch the Mindful movement and begin combatting the stress and fatigue our nation currently faces.
It may seem an odd time to promote a bold expansion project for mental health clinicians. (After all, we’re launching Mindful in the midst of a once-in-a-100-years pandemic crisis.)
But with a closer look, I think there’s never been a better time to provide more resources to mental health workers.
Pre-COVID19, burnout was >50% and physician suicide remains its own epidemic. Insurers and hospital systems are buying up physician practices and private equity is jumping into the marketplace, increasing the cost of care and putting physicians under ever-intensifying productivity requirements.
There’s never been a greater need for the warmth and personalization of private practicing physician offices.
1. Happiness comes from owning your livelihood After experiencing burnout multiple times over my career, I’ve created a definition for the term that I believe many healthcare professionals will connect with:
Burnout: A mental health state caused by perceived financial devaluation mixed with tangible loss of autonomy created from a poor workplace operating system.
When I took an honest look back at each employed job I had, there was one common denominator: me. And yes, while the workplace operating systems I worked under weren’t ideal, my fundamental hiccup was that I needed to be in charge. I needed autonomy and the ability to see that my decisions had a direct positive impact on my colleagues and patients.
Being in charge means I set my own financial value. When I launched Progressive Psychiatry, I regained my autonomy and built my own workplace operating systems.
Mindful creates a stable, scalable approach for mental health entrepreneurs—shouldering the administrative and business burden—to do what they do best: treat patients.
Mindful uses education to lift the business administrative duties off private psychiatry practices, making it easier for you to deliver the best care to your patients.
We need mental health entrepreneurs: #TherapyForAll
It’s very hard to scale mental health practices in the current work environment—and I’m not even talking about COVID-19. The U.S. small business healthcare infrastructure is underfunded, underinvested, under-operationalized, and completely misunderstood.
(To learn how we can fund universal access to quality affordable mental healthcare, buy my book.)
Sadly, even if everyone had the funds to buy their care directly from the mental health clinician providing it, we’d still be up the creek. We must expand the availability of mental healthcare by investing in small business mental healthcare infrastructure.
In some ways, this is already happening thanks to a coalition of national mental health groups asking for funding. But in the end, it’s the direct relationship between patient and clinician that deserves our attention (and our money).
#TherapyForAll is a call for universal investment in mental health entrepreneurship. Be it a Hackathon, building mindful buildings, or adapting best practices from successful entrepreneurship programs, our society suffers from lack of leadership in this sector.
We will become that leader.
In our society, “you pay for what you value, you value what you pay for.” Looking downtown, notice the logos. In the medical district, look at the names and specialities. It’s clear that as a nation we do not value mental health.
I often joke that if we invested as much time, energy, attention, and money (TEAM) into mental health as we do in the tech, pharmaceuticals, financial services, defense, or real estate industries, we’d all be super calm and well adjusted!
Progressive Psychiatry and its’ Mindful brand launches this summer, standing on two beliefs:
We’re recruiting, training, and scaling to meet the growing need for quality mental health. We’re hiring.
With accolades spanning my career as a child psychiatrist, entrepreneur, writer, and public speaker, I advocate for a more sensible U.S. healthcare solution that appeals across all party lines. I am a Texan, born and raised. My psychiatry practice, Progressive Psychiatry, is based in Fort Worth.Read Full Bio