The decision to leave a high-paying job to pursue something more daring is not one many people would consider. For Dr. Mo, a Medical Expert on JustAnswer, he made that decision a few years ago and never looked back.
While living a comfortable life as a physician, he was constantly spending beyond his means and did not get as much gratification as he had hoped for when he went into medicine. Instead, he "retired" and began to explore ways to live a simpler and more rewarding life.
We spoke with Dr. Mo about his experience as an Expert on JustAnswer and asked him to share his motivation to pursue more philanthropic opportunities.
JUSTANSWER: Tell us about your medical background.
DR. MO: I chose medicine because I was always fascinated with science and did well in biology. Medicine was a way for me to combine science and help my community.
Residency graduation dinner
When deciding my specialty, I was torn between Emergency Medicine and OBGYN so I ended up choosing Family Medicine which allows me to do both. I didn't realize I would enjoy Family Medicine as much as I do now.
JUSTANSWER: What do you enjoy about Family Medicine?
DR. MO: I enjoy working with my hands, whether it’s building something or fixing a car, and there’s a little bit of that in Family Medicine. The training to get there was tough, to say the least, and the bureaucracy of medicine can be daunting. I didn't realize how difficult it is for patients to get access to help in the American medical system. It's not anything intentional but a side effect of a highly regulated industry and lengthy process of producing capable physicians.
Dr. Mo working on his car
But, it often takes just one smile or a great outcome to forget about the negatives and be reminded of why I became a physician in the first place.
JUSTANSWER: A few years ago, you made a big career change. What did you decide to do and why?
DR. MO: About 3 years after graduating residency, I realized that although I was able to live a well-paid physician lifestyle, I was spending way beyond my means and paying off a lot of debt. The money can make it easy to forget that I went into medicine to help people and have that really deep connection you can only have between healer and patient. I would have never endured what I went through in medical school and residency for any amount of income and I think many of my colleagues would agree. So, I decided to change my lifestyle and focus on becoming financially independent and putting my medical skills to work for the less fortunate.
Dr. Mo with his colleagues
By early 2016, I was able to save enough to pay off any debt I had. More importantly, I reduced enough of my expenses to be able to stop working full-time. The work I do now is mostly volunteering work and helping medical projects get off the ground.
JUSTANSWER: That’s really courageous and admirable of you to make that kind of change. Along the way, you’ve blogged about your pursuit of a simpler lifestyle. Tell us more about what we can find in your blog.
DR. MO: I started my blog, urgentcarecareer.com, to share my learnings about personal finances and keep track of my progress. My blog is geared towards physicians who are looking for more freedom from the traditional healthcare system, prefer to live simpler, more meaningful lives, and want to use their medical skills to give back to their communities.
I focus on financial independence and early retirement for physicians who are looking for a better balance between the high income in medicine and patient care. Medicine and money don't often mix. Our patients deserve our undivided care completely independent of who they are, how much they can afford, and whether we can turnover enough patients to cover costs.
JUSTANSWER: How have you used your time and medical expertise to give back?
DR. MO: I was part of a regular medical mission trip to several orphanages in Mexico when I lived in San Diego and now I am volunteering with Project Erase to remove unwanted tattoos (e.g. hate or gang-related) from those who are unable to afford the service otherwise. I am also working with a wonderful medical startup called Remedy, trying to bring affordable healthcare to the farthest reaches of the planet. Through their digital platform, we can "see" patients in the most remote areas and help those who would otherwise have no access at all.
Later on, I plan to do a world tour of the major medical universities and sit in on lectures by some of the most respected clinical professors in their fields. It will help continue my learning and provide even better care to my patients and customers on JustAnswer.
JUSTANSWER: Speaking of which, a little bird told us that you found out about JustAnswer directly from the source. Tell us more about that.
DR. MO: I was out to lunch with a buddy of mine who brought his partner along, who turns out to be the Expert recruiter at JustAnswer. She was so positive and excited about her work; it was infectious. I tried to be subtle but I'm sure I said something like, "Ooh! Can I work on JA?!" She was absolutely fantastic about walking me through the rigorous background and credential check process and now I feel like I'm part of a dedicated community serving customers from all over the world.
JUSTANSWER: That’s fantastic! How does being an Expert on JustAnswer fit into your current lifestyle?
DR. MO: JustAnswer essentially met all the criteria I was looking for in a new venture: a source of income, opportunity to practice my medical expertise, and flexibility in time and location.
I never realized how inquisitive customers are about their health. People will contact me on JustAnswer from all over the world and ask about procedures and medications that are not common. Google searches and Uptodate.com are my best friends now. Physicians are not trained to memorize a bunch of medical facts but to learn about the atomic principle behind how the system works as a whole - this has allowed me to think backward in different circumstances and provide the right answers to customers.
In the end, the majority of customers just want to be reassured by a medical Expert. They come to ask for second opinions, home remedies, and alternative medicine practices.
When I go on my university tour, I am planning to generate some income by answering questions on JustAnswer. I can continue to keep up on my skills while traveling. There are very few opportunities out there like JustAnswer which allows me to do both.
JUSTANSWER: We’re looking forward to reading about your travel adventures on your blog. Before we let you go, do you have any advice for other Experts, especially new ones, on JustAnswer?
DR. MO: About 90% of customers on JustAnswer have simple questions and are looking to be reassured. It's easy to get lost in long conversations so I would recommend asking customers to outline exactly the information they are looking for. Don't get frustrated if someone asks the same question 12 different ways; they are likely very concerned and just want to make sure that you will stick with them.
The other 10% of customers might be trickier to help. They might be extremely upset for different reasons or stressed out about a bad situation. If you remain calm, respectful, and trust in your expertise, you will be able to help these customers more often than not.
Finally, if you want to be successful on JustAnswer, you need to play the part. By that, I mean that you should act like you’re working in your field. I usually put on scrubs, declutter my desk, and try to be proactive in replying to customers as soon as they post. The sooner you reply, the happier customers will be.
We want to thank Dr. Mo for sharing his story with us. If you'd like to read more Expert spotlights, click here.