Are you tired, stressed, and run down?
Do you question if there's any point to what you're doing?
Do you feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to see patients, close your notes, leave work on time, and have a life of your own?
Do you find yourself taking care of everyone but yourself?
If so, then I want you to know you're not alone. In fact, I used to feel the exact same way.
My name is Andrew Reid and I graduated as a physician assistant from UC Davis in 2012. I started Medgeeks in 2013 to help students and clinicians get ahead in medicine.
But the more I practiced, the more I realized how unprepared I was. I wasn't lacking medical knowledge per se, but I realized my program didn’t address the nuances of real-life application and the day-to-day realities that come with the practice of medicine.
After a few years into practice, I realized something felt off. I couldn't pinpoint what it was at first. But I felt drained, irritable, and found myself becoming jaded with patients I once loved. There were even days I dreaded going to work.
Over the past decade, I've had thousands of conversations with PAs, NPs, and physicians who all felt as if something was missing as well; they too were unable to figure out what that feeling was.
That feeling is called burnout.
The effects of burnout (just to name a few) include:
- Decreased quality of care
- Poor patient satisfaction
- Decreased trust from patients
- Medical errors
- High clinician turnover
- Relationship difficulties (colleagues, patients, admin, spouse, children, parents, and friends)
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal ideation
Many feel they can just tough it out. But when you zoom out, you’ll realize you’re not the only person involved. The way you feel affects performance regardless of what you think. Burnout affects you and your patient.
Patients aren't just a random group of people, either. They consist of every single human being on the planet.
- You are a patient
- Your spouse is a patient
- Your child is a patient
- Your attending is a patient
- Your colleague is a patient
Everyone is a patient at some point in their life. Therefore, every human being suffers when a clinician isn’t putting their best foot forward.
I want to emphasize that burning out is completely unrelated to your intelligence and/or clinical acumen.
I came across an article titled “Medical Burnout: Breaking Bad,” that illustrates this point.
Here’s a short snippet:
“The year was 2007, and I was a surgical resident at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Joseph Stothert, MD, Ph.D., was the chief of trauma service.
“Dr. Kaushik, did you see the consult in the ER?” Dr. Stothert looked into my eyes as if staring into my soul.
“Not yet, Dr. Stothert,” I replied, picking up the patient’s chart. “They paged me two minutes ago.”
Dr. Stothert shook his head and headed to the ER, where he saw the patient even before I did.
Joseph Stothert was a phenomenal trauma surgeon, the medical director of the Omaha Fire Department, and a brilliant leader who saved countless lives throughout Nebraska.
He died by suicide in March 2021 after spending more than a year on the front lines in the war against COVID-19.
For me and countless other residents that Dr. Stothert trained, his death will never be just a tragic statistic among so many during this pandemic.
Rather, he will be remembered as one of the finest surgeons in the country, whose skill was matched only by his kindness and compassion.”
- Dharam Kaushik, MD, “Medical Burnout: Breaking Bad”
Your primary role as a clinician is to prevent and treat disease. Because of this, most of your continuing education revolves around guidelines, evidence-based medicine, new studies, and novel treatments.
But that can’t be the only thing you’re focused on. I hope it’s clear that your ability to prevent burnout isn’t tied to your clinical abilities; it’s an entirely different skill set that you need to master.
Like any disease, preventing burnout is better than treating burnout. So, the sooner you master this skill set, the better off you’ll be.
Learn from the fly...
There’s a small fly burning out the last of its short life’s energies in a futile attempt to fly through the glass of the windowpane. The whining wings tell the poignant story of the fly’s strategy—try harder.
But it’s not working.
The frenzied effort offers no hope for survival. Ironically, the struggle is part of the trap. It is impossible for the fly to try hard enough to succeed at breaking through the glass. Nevertheless, this little insect has staked its life on reaching its goal through raw effort and determination.
This fly is doomed. It will die there on the windowsill.
Across the room, ten steps away, the door is open. Ten seconds of flying time and this small creature could reach the outside world it seeks. With only a fraction of the effort now being wasted, it could be free of this self-imposed trap. The breakthrough possibility is there.
It would be so easy. Why doesn’t the fly try another approach, something dramatically different? How did it get so locked in on the idea that this particular route, and determined effort, offer the most promise for success? What logic is there in continuing, until death, to seek a breakthrough with “more of the same”?
No doubt this approach makes sense to the fly. Regrettably, it’s an idea that will kill.
“Trying harder” isn’t necessarily the solution to achieving more. It may not offer any real promise for getting what you want out of life. Sometimes, in fact, it’s a big part of the problem.
If you stake your hopes for a breakthrough on trying harder than ever, you may kill your chances for success.”
- Price Pritchett, You²
At some point, we have all been that fly. We’ve all tried to achieve something different by doing more of the same. There may have been times in the past when that tactic fixed your problem. But, success is a lousy teacher. It tricks you into thinking that you’re better than you are.
Don’t default to solving new problems with old solutions, even if they worked in the past. Instead, seek to identify the
thought process behind the solution.
Sometimes more isn’t the answer. Sometimes we need something entirely different.
Like the fly, we usually default to this type of thinking when there isn’t a plan and we are subsequently forced to make last-minute decisions. It’s hard to make the right choices when there isn’t any sense of direction.
But unlike the fly, you can plan. You can also ask for help and seek counsel. Getting an outside perspective on your situation is one of the most valuable things you can do.
It’s my goal (over time) to provide you with more tools, show you the many ways of using those tools, and then show you which tools work best, depending on the project.
If you were to do some research right now for the root cause of burnout, you would find article after article stating that it’s due to chronic stress secondary to your work environment. But, I believe that paints an incomplete picture.
The only way your work environment leads to burnout is by doing nothing about the work environment. There are only three reasons why you do nothing about an environment that makes you unhappy:
You aren’t aware of the problem. Perhaps you feel something isn’t right and something needs to change, but you’re not exactly sure what that is.
You’re aware of the problem but don’t know the solution. You know that your work environment is making you unhappy, but you’re not sure what will fix it.
You’re aware of the problem and have a solution in mind, but you don’t execute it. You either don’t know how to execute the solution or you’ll come up with excuses as to why now isn’t the right time to do so. But, if you dig deep you’ll realize many of these excuses are grounded in fear and insecurity.
If you quit a bad job, it would be impossible for any of this to happen. If you know why you quit a bad job and put a system in place to prevent this from happening in the future, then it would be impossible for any of this to happen.
This requires self-awareness of standards, boundaries, and tolerance levels.
With all that in mind, everything discussed thus far is still confined to only one of five core pillars that make up your life in medicine. Truth be told, there isn't any resource that addresses all 5 pillars. It simply doesn't exist.
The Clinician's Corner Journal: once a month you'll receive a brand new physical copy (via mail) of our publication. This is a 10 - 15 page guide that will show you how to grow personally, improve professionally, and take control of your finances (security). We cover the principles, the evidence to back up our methods, and give you a strategic step-by-step blueprint to help you connect the dots.
Live group coaching sessions: every month I'll go live for 45 minutes so we can work on mindset. This is key to bettering your life.
“The first two weeks changing the mindset was really helpful. It’s really nice to hear from somebody that has experience, to listen to their thought processes, it’s very helpful. I’m very happy.”
- Alexander Y., NP
“The mindset stuff was one of the most helpful things. The structured curriculum and touching on all the main...aspects was helpful as a new grad as well, but I think the mindset lectures hit home and got me thinking about things I wasn’t before and helped boost confidence. That was huge for me."
- Heather L., PA-C
All sessions are recorded and made available in your dashboard (you'll get access to our entire backlog of trainings). Also available as audio only formats so you can learn on the go.
Get your questions answered: submit any questions you have about personal development, career development, and/or finances. We'll select a few and answer them in next month's journal.
This training is led by our client success manager who has personally helped our clients (full-time practicing clinicians) get 5 hours of time back per week (on average). That's 20 hours a month that could be spent on things you didn't think you had time for.
Truth be told, we've helped one clinician get 18 hours of her life back per week (72 hours per month). If we can help this person, we can most certainly help you.
But, Clinician's Corner won't take up this much time either. In fact, you'll be able to go through and implement everything we share by dedicating only 2 hours per month; we've strategically developed our program this way.
In other words, we'll help you get 20 hours a month back, so you can dedicate 2 hours of that time to bettering your life. That still leaves you with 18 hours every month to do as you please. Of course these are averages. But even you only had half of that time back, it would be worth trying.
The first issue of the Medgeeks Monthly Journal is a pioneering task that will bloom full blossom in the coming issues.
For all intents and purposes, every program should “address the nuances of real-life application and the day-to-day realities that come with the practice of medicine." p.2 Medgeeks Monthly Journal, Clinician's Corner.
I commend Andrew, Founder of Medgeeks, for helping clinicians learn about and use these tools of life.
- Rudy F.
I am so glad I subscribed. The format and layout will be easy to put in a binder to refer to in the future. The journal was informative and engaging.
- Krissi V.
What I loved most about the first issue is that it was so thorough as to hit every aspect that is important but simple at the same time. So there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of information.
- Jihan P.
The statement that made me stop in my tracks while reading was, "if you don't decide where you want to go, then someone else will make that decision for you."
I think back to my previous employment both in and out of healthcare and recall all the feelings lumped into burnout were due to other people making decisions about me where I had no input. I was in a culture of "do as I say, no questions" or "this is the way we do things and have always done things," shutting down lines of communication and understanding, negatively impacting employees and clientele.
As a new grad trying to assess where I can survive and thrive is overwhelming. This issue was beneficial with step-by-step questions broken down into pillars that help guide your self-inquiry on your values. When your values align in the workplace, and outside you can better keep your cup filled and assist others in filling theirs.
I am very excited about what's to come, especially about finances, as this is an area I have very little exposure and knowledge about.
Stay safe and sane.
- Christine L
I really feel like this journal is speaking to me. Very applicable information. Thank you for making this journal available!
- Kelly B.
Just wanted to take a moment and let you know how much I enjoyed the 1st issue of Clinician's Corner. The information was so relevant and reinforced the discussions we have been having. Keep up the great work. I am so glad I decided to subscribe to Clinician's Corner it will be a great resource going forward.
- Rebecca S
I loved the first edition of Clinician's Corner and read it less than an hour after retrieving it from the mailbox. I like that you and your team have created these pillars, are really going to be diving into them, and are dissecting them bit by bit in effort for all readers to improve in each area.
It was an easy read yet quite impactful. As I was reading the first edition I paused after each topic to check in with myself and really self-reflect. I am looking forward to future editions and the self improvement myself, and every reader, will experience with Clinician's Corner.
Thank you for all you and your team do!
- Amy K.
I just re-read the first issue and I was so interested to read about the 5 pillars to complete your life puzzle. It spoke to me because it encompasses the categories that are so important to having a successful career. I love the African proverb mentioned in the segment.
It just really put everything in perspective, all the feelings that I have struggled with in my 3 years as a clinician. Burnout is real.
I'm looking forward to the next issue to learn more about managing and experiencing emotions. I love this first issue and look forward to the next one. I just feel like every page spoke to me and had something that I was feeling, had experienced or that I will encounter. Thank you for such a great issue.
- Adrienne M.