Town loves doctor. Gives her free rent, cookies and $100,000 check!

Listen to the above interview extracted from our physician teleseminar and discover how this small-town doctor got free rent, a plate of chocolate-chip cookies, and a $100,000 check!

Meet Dr. Mary Ellen Hoffman—the happiest doctor in New York! She’s an awesome family doc in the small town of Oneonta. She used to be in a clinic where she was always running late, doing tons of paperwork, and charting after hours. She was so exhausted trying to care for others she started daydreaming of getting into an accident so she could rest. Does that sound familiar? I’ve spoken to a ton of depressed and suicidal docs who have said the same things over the years. Sleep deprivation and chronic exhaustion actually lead to suicidal thoughts in doctors.

Around that time she came upon my first TEDx talk How to get naked with your doctor and started reading this blog. Her breaking point came when she was at a hospital meeting and they were discussing the popular “patient satisfaction surveys,” yet she says, “we never ask patients what their expectations are!” Then doctors are labeled as being “unsatisfactory” based on these surveys. She got angry and wrote an essay about her frustration. She didn’t know what to do with this essay so she decided to send it to all of her favorite authors. Apparently I was on this list and I wrote her back 🙂  Wait, I love the way Mary Ellen describes this in her own words . . .

“I was getting all hot and frustrated and I decided to write an essay just to kind of get my words on paper. What do I do with this essay? And I decided for whatever reason to send it to all my favorite authors. So I sent it to Pamela. And Pamela wrote back that night: ‘Hey I have a lot to say about this. When can I call you?’ And we talked the next day probably for an hour on the phone, me mostly crying because I didn’t see any way out of and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to practice medicine still seeing the way things were going and I had zero belief that I could open my own practice and I was truly sitting and thinking about what else I could do. Could I be a farmer? Could I be a waitress?” ~ Mary Ellen Hoffman, M.D.

May Ellen did the physician teleseminar and she spent most of the teleconference with the phone on mute while she was crying. She had no confidence in her ability to do anything—especially launch her own clinic. Then at the end of the 10-week teleconference she decided to attend the retreat! Yay! Here’s what she says about the retreat:

“I really had no idea why I was going because I apologize but at the time I really didn’t like doctors. I never really felt like I fit in [with doctors]. I had a ton of fear and on the plane out there I realized exactly why I was going. I realized there was so many things in my life specifically related to medicine that made me so scared and so fearful and I’ve also learned that I’m old enough to know that every time I look in the face of something that makes me so scared, I learn and grow and it’s amazing. So that’s why I went—because I was scared. I showed up and obviously it was a bunch of very, very awesome amazing people. And it was really during the fire ceremony where we had a big piece of paper and everybody wrote down on it things that frustrate us and make us mad—all our feelings regarding life in general but specific to medicine—and by the end (I was one of the last people to go) it was amazing to me how I didn’t have a story to tell anymore because everybody had already told my story. So much fear, so much loneliness, isolation, lack of confidence. All these people kept getting up in front of me and just looking at them they were so articulate and so clearly intelligent and powerful beyond imagine and I just wanted to say that to them and then, oh wow, if I want to say that to them I have to say that for myself. And really literally in that moment in time everything changed for me.” ~ Mary Ellen Hoffman, M.D. 

Mary Ellen in that moment knew she would be successful. She says, “It’s not a question of IF I can do this. It’s how I’m going to do this.”

Check out Dr. Hoffman’s timeline. May 2015: attends retreat. Dec 31, 2015: last day at old job. January 18, 2016: sees her first patient in new dream clinic. June 2016: her practice is full with 400 patients and now has 100 people on a waiting list. She says, “It’s going absolutely awesome!”

Keys to her success are that she shared her dream clinic with her community and they rallied around to support her. She even got out of her non-compete clause when she shared her dream with the hospital president. She also was able to get a non-recruitment-of-staff clause waived in her contract so she could bring her nurse with her. Then a neighbor came over to offer her any amount of money she needed so she ends up with a $100,000 check and a plate of homemade chocolate-chip cookies! She calls this lady her “Fairy Godmother #1” (who is now her patient too). Fairy Godmother #1 led her to Fairy Godmother #2 who had a building in town. She said, “Hey you need space? I have space. If you can’t pay me rent for a year I don’t care.” So now she has free rent for a year too. 

Could you use free rent, a plate of chocolate-chip cookies, and a $100,000 check? Share your dream with your community! If you don’t share your dream, how can anyone ever write you a big check and give you free rent? 

So here’s what to do: 1) Listen to the podcast above to hear an abbreviated 23-minute portion of Dr. Hoffman’s interview. 2) Then share your dream with the world. Okay?

Are you ready to live your dream in medicine? Join the retreat! Can’t come to the retreat? Join the teleseminar! Can’t wait for the next teleseminar? Join the fast-track course (for full interview & all 10 teleclasses downloadable now).

Are you afraid? Depressed? Suicidal? Contact Dr. Wible confidentially here. 

Inspired by Dr. Mary Ellen Hoffman? Share your public comment and celebrate this courageous woman below.

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17 comments on “Town loves doctor. Gives her free rent, cookies and $100,000 check!
  1. Laura Hart says:

    Her bravery and incisiveness inspire me. Hats off to Pamela WIble and all the others who now had the revolution in medicine. May it go far at the same astounding pace Dr. Hoffman’s career bloomed.

  2. Myung Allen says:

    Two thumbs up for you Dr. Hoffman!

  3. Chris Lakhiani says:

    I’m really impressed by your level of caring, and your openness to doctors in need. What a great story. Keep it up!

  4. Mary Ellen Hoffman says:

    I’m so very appreciative of all the support I have had and continue to receive. Huge shout out to Pamela and Sydney!!

    A couple points of clarification: the check was for a loan that I’m paying back. 2nd I used a big chunk of that loan to pay for renovations to the space that I’m renting. The Fairy Godmothers helped to make these 2 steps ($$ and space) so easy and painless. There are people everywhere who want to help…we just need to share our dreams!!

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Still the most inspiring real-life fairy tale story I’ve ever heard. The only other one that comes close to this is also from a small town in New York. (I think all the Fairy Godmothers must live in New York).

      “Here’s Dr. Myria Emeny’s “Cinderella Story:” Burdened with $273,000 of student loans while single parenting a daughter with cerebral palsy, Myria wants off the hamster wheel. She dreams of life as a country doc. After two town hall meetings with the citizens of Westerlo, New York, Myria’s dream comes true. Townspeople raise $2,500 with bake sales, spaghetti dinners, ice cream socials; they sew gowns and blankets; donate a washer and dryer, snow tires for her car, remodel an apartment for her family, and post “Doc Myria’s Health Care Center” on the building she pays one dollar per year to lease. Patients volunteer to do billing and office work; one is teaching her horseback riding. Despite oppressive insurance regulations and layers of bureaucracy, Doc Myria keeps smiling as strangers snowplow her driveway and patients arrive with her favorite triple-chocolate cake on her birthday. What’s important, Myria says, is “believing it is possible. Most people give up on dreams like this.”

  5. I love that quote,“It’s not a question of IF I can do this. It’s how I’m going to do this.”, it is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing this story. I applaud your work in helping others, you have a gift.

  6. LOVED EVERY WORD OF THIS!!!Changing our beliefs changes everything!Will forward this to my unhappy PCP!

  7. Martha Bremer says:

    So happy this is working out for you Ellen!

  8. Mark Rhodes says:

    Congratulations!
    Mary Ellen, you are so not alone. I broke away 12 yrs ago, work in a small town and commute by plane each month to work. So many ways to do it differently! Welcome to the “other side” of medicine.

  9. Trudy Martinez says:

    Congratulations, Dr Hoffman! You inspire so many others to pursue their dreams as well!

  10. Dawn Hardwick NP says:

    Oh my gosh, I continue to be inspired to tears by all of you. I read this particular story and actually gasped at the comment of having an accident in order to get out of healthcare. I have thought this numerous times; knowing if I accidentally died, my loans would be forgiven (because sadly yes, I even checked, you know, just in case…) and my husband would not be saddled with my 140,000.00 in student debt . I am only a nurse practitioner. I keep tinkering with opening an ideal clinic and have an opportunity to do so but harbor such fear. Most of my fear is from the entrapped feeling I have had in the clinic system that continues to give me that “sick to my stomach” feeling and the 2nd because I’m not a doc and always harbor that feeling of inadequacy. Citrently, i quit the crazy clinic life and started doing locum work in low access areas. More fulfilling, a little less entrapment, but still feel that nauseated feeling of feeling like a complete imposter and just overwhelmed. I love medicine but wonder if my life will ever be the same and will happiness ever return? Drs. Hoffman and Wible you inspire me!

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