Podcast

Ep 006: Combating the Loneliness Epidemic

Did you know that rates of loneliness have doubled in the United States since the 1980s? Studies show us that greater than 50% of people say no one knows them well, and 40% of people report isolation or feeling that their relationships are not meaningful. Worse yet, these feelings are harmful to our health, and as physicians, we face unique situations that make us even more susceptible to this growing problem.

In this episode, I explain how loneliness affects physicians in particular, and what must be done to address and proactively fight against it. Listen in to learn what is contributing to this growing issue, how feeling lonely harms our health, and what we can all do to combat the loneliness epidemic.

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What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • What is causing the increasing rates of loneliness.
  • Why loneliness is bad for our health.
  • How loneliness affects our performance at work.
  • What makes physicians more likely to feel lonely.
  • Who should take responsibility to fix the loneliness epidemic in the physician world.
  • What we can do to combat loneliness.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

Baby steps to connect in meaningful ways add up. - @KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet Building strong, authentic emotional connections with our physician colleagues will go far in improving physician wellness, especially in today’s workplace. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet The bottom line is that loneliness affects our health and our work. If we want to be excellent physicians and happy human beings, we need to take steps to avoid or decrease loneliness. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet

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Ep 005: What We Can Do About Burnout (Part 2)

Today we’re continuing our two-part series on organizational efforts to decrease physician burnout. Last week, I described assessment tools that might help us begin our efforts for change within our organizations, and this episode is following up with examples of targeted interventions for improving physician wellness.

While every organization has its own unique needs and challenges, there are plenty of options for what institutions can do to keep their doctors healthy. Listen in to hear the types of interventions that have been successful, issues that make organizational efforts less likely to make an impact, and advice for supporting physicians in all aspects of their well-being.

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What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • Examples of organizational efforts to improve physician wellness.
  • What makes interventions less likely to be successful.
  • How to get ideas for efforts your organization can try.
  • A common thing physicians report as a cause of burnout.
  • What some organizations have done to ensure physicians are using their time efficiently.
  • One area of intervention that’s grossly overlooked.
  • What can be done to create a sense of community among physicians.
  • The unsettling trend studies show us about women in medicine.
  • What to do after an intervention effort takes place.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

All interventions need to be genuine, with buy-in from both physicians and organizational leaders. - @KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet We can’t have physician wellness if disadvantaged populations don’t feel welcome and valued. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet Physicians should never be made to feel their burnout is their fault alone. When organizations develop interventions that support the personal aspects of wellness, it needs to be done as part of a bigger program. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet

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Ep 004: What We Can Do About Burnout (Part 1)

Did you know that greater than 50% of American physicians report symptoms of burnout? It’s a sad truth in medicine today, and it’s not only physicians who suffer as a result. Burnout leads to decreased patient satisfaction, decreased quality of care, and increased medical errors.

This is an organizational issue that has far-reaching implications, and it’s up to all of us to do something about this problem. So this week, we’re starting a two-part series addressing organizational efforts to decrease physician burnout. Listen in to learn what can be done within your institution to keep physicians healthy.

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What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • What has led to such high rates of physician burnout.
  • Problems associated with burned-out physicians.
  • Why organizations should invest in physician wellness.
  • How much physician turnover costs institutions.
  • The three categories of physician wellness.
  • Tools for understanding and measuring burnout.
  • What can we do to help and prevent physician burnout.
  • Where to start when working to address physician wellness.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

{Physician burnout} is a shared problem with a shared responsibility to work for change. - @KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet To strive for change that will be effective, we need to recognize that each organization has its unique situation, and we can tailor a plan according to those unique needs. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet The large majority of physicians love medicine and simply want to practice in a setting that works better for them. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet

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Ep 003: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Today’s episode tackles something that many physicians struggle with: setting boundaries. Though healthy boundaries are an important aspect of wellness, it is far too common for us to want to do more than we can and stretch ourselves too thin because we don’t know how to say “no,” or because we’re afraid to.

But the truth is, we’re human. We can’t do everything, and setting boundaries that communicate this is an act of self-care that can’t be ignored. If this is something you struggle with, listen in to hear the steps you can take to start setting healthy boundaries in your own life.

Listen to the Full Episode:


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What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • Why it’s important to set boundaries.
  • How having weak boundaries hurts us.
  • The shocking percentage of physicians in America who report symptoms of burnout.
  • What’s at the root of such high rates of physician burnout.
  • Reasons physicians may have a hard time setting healthy boundaries.
  • An acronym to keep in mind for dealing with people who constantly test your limits.
  • Key steps to take for setting healthy boundaries.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

At some point in our lives, we have to come to terms that we can’t do it all. We have to choose what we prioritize. - @KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet We need to hold ourselves and each other to the same healthy behaviors we prescribe to our patients. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet No matter our experiences early in life, it’s never too late for us to learn to set healthy boundaries. It’s a skill that can be learned at any time in our lifespan. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet

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Ep 002: Growth Opportunities and Self-Compassion

Few things are tougher to deal with as physicians than mistakes in medicine or unanticipated outcomes. It’s something we all experience at one point or another, and I know how hard it can be to handle the regret. I also know how challenging it can be to be kind to yourself after something like that happens.

So today, we’re going to discuss what I call FGOs, or Flipping Growth Opportunities. These situations are awful, and we can’t change them, but we can choose to be gentle with ourselves and practice self-compassion. Listen in to hear advice on how to do that, what we can learn from growth opportunities, and a mindfulness exercise to help you be kind to yourself when these situations arise.

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What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • What growth opportunities can teach us.
  • The two types of mindsets we can have.
  • Why it’s so important to have self-compassion.
  • The three aspects of self-compassion.
  • A mindfulness exercise to help in dealing with growth opportunities in medicine.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

It can be difficult to find words to share mistakes in medicine or unanticipated outcomes and regrets … If this is you, know that you’re not alone. It’s something that every physician understands. - @KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet Self-compassion is at the core of compassion, and that’s at the core for being an excellent physician. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet Know that your self-compassion is the foundation for your compassion in the world. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet

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Ep 001: Giving Ourselves Permission

Welcome to the first episode of Physician Wellness First, the show dedicated to helping physicians learn to take care of themselves so they can take better care of their patients. My name is Dr. Kathy Stepien, and I’m a pediatric hospitalist, as well as the founding director of The Institute for Physician Wellness. Having worked in healthcare for over 30 years, I know what it’s like to experience burnout, and my mission is to help other physicians avoid this common problem.

The medical industry needs support for wellness now more than ever, and nothing is more important for wellness than the topic I’ll be discussing today: giving ourselves permission to set boundaries and identify what we need. Listen in to hear the common reasons we give ourselves for always putting others first, as well as how this hurts us, our patients, and our families. We’ll go through exercises to help you reconnect with your own needs, and end with a guided meditation that will help put you on the right path to wellness.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • Why it can be challenging for physicians to talk about their own wellness.
  • Common reasons we don’t give ourselves permission to attend to our own needs.
  • What permission truly means.
  • Why physician health is so important, not just for us, but for our patients, families, and communities.
  • An exercise to help us turn toward wellness.
  • A guided meditation to use for developing awareness.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

Certainly we can’t truly have physician wellness unless all physicians—regardless of gender, or race, or age, or sexual orientation—are welcome to the table. - @KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet We take the oath to care for patients, but we also need to care for each other, in addition to ourselves … We’re physicians, not martyrs. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet I firmly believe that when we are healthier in medicine, medicine is healthier and we all benefit: us, our patients, our families, our communities. And for me, that’s what it’s all about. -@KathyStepienMD Click To Tweet

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