Interview with Dr. Starla Fitch

On this week’s episode of the podcast, we'll take a look at the fascinating world of life and executive coach Dr. Starla Fitch.

Starla found salvation from burnout through coaching by accident and quickly realized its potential to help other physicians. After making a slow transition out of clinical practice, she now works full time as an executive coach and speaker.


Starla followed a somewhat unusual path to the world of medicine, starting out with a Master’s in Sociology from Texas A&M. After working with the elderly doing needs assessments, she realized that medicine was her true calling.

In spite of luke-warm support at home, she completed two years of pre-medical education, then obtained her medical degree from the Univeristy of Southern Illinois.

She completed an internship at Baylor, and then her ophthalmology residency at the University of Washington, followed by a Fellowship in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Then she landed her dream job as an oculoplastic surgeon in Atlanta.

She is somewhat of an icon in the physician coaching world. She has a lot of experience and wisdom. So, I’m very happy that she agreed to come on the podcast and share her thoughts with us today.

executive coach starla fitch

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest-running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country, with over 650 graduates. Unlike other programs, which typically run 1 – 1/2 to 2 years, this program only takes a year to complete. And Economist Magazine recently ranked the business school #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations. While in the program, you'll participate in a company project, thereby contributing to your organization.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations. And they've become entrepreneurs and business owners.

By joining the University of Tennessee physician executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to advance your career. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or go to

Burnout Strikes

Now long after entering clinical practice, Starla began to experience the classic symptoms of burnout. Working long hours and doing clinics on Saturday took its toll. “One Saturday on my way home from clinic I heard a song and just started “ugly crying”… I knew I was in trouble.”

After talking to her sister about what she was going through, her sister recommended looking up a minister that she had found helpful. In a strange twist of fate, Dr. Fitch looked her up and found that her words had a profound impact on her. As it turned out, however, she was not a minister at all, but an executive coach by the same name. She hired her immediately.



After hiring the business coach, Dr. Fitch experienced a 180-degree turnaround. Her stress diminished and she began to love what she was doing again. She immediately began to share her experience with colleagues and saw the impact that it had on them as well. Realizing that there weren’t many business or life coaches that focused on physicians, she decided to become certified life and executive coach herself.

Transitioning from Clinical

Dr. Fitch got her certification under Dr. Martha Beck, a Harvard Ph.D. who most famously worked with Oprah. It took a year and a lot of time and money, but Dr. Fitch feels that it was all completely worth it. 

Once certified, Dr. Fitch wanted to gain additional insight into how best to help physicians in particular. “I decided to talk to doctors that had it right.” She reached out to doctors that were happy and living a balanced life while practicing clinically and interviewed them. She asked them about their experiences with burnout and how they overcame it. 

“If you’re not living a full life and experiencing joy, it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Dr. Starla Fitch

As a way to record what she was doing, she started her blog entitled “Love Medicine Again.” The blog and interviews, in turn, led to her decision to write a book on the subject called “Remedy for Burnout,” which was a huge success. Soon the offers for keynote speaking and a TED talk followed. After some time on the speaking circuit, however, Dr. Fitch realized that she missed the personal connection of coaching.

With her attention back on coaching, along with her clinical practice, Dr. Fitch was happier. However, she was spreading herself too thin. Her husband said, “You’re not listening to what you’re telling your clients.” She realized her husband was right, and ultimately made the difficult decision to transition out of her clinical practice, taking several years to ensure that she found the right replacement and that her patients were in good hands.

Full Time Executive Coach

As a full-time executive coach, Starla puts all her energy into helping doctors and others. She also offers guidance to those that are satisfied, but want to move into a new role, or up the ladder at their organization. Her clients range from young doctors who are two years into their practice, to chief medical officers and heads of departments. 

Click Here for a Free Clarity Call with Starla Fitch


“A lot of physicians don’t think they need a coach. I always ask them, ‘the first time you put in an IV… did you just say ‘I’ve got this?’” According to Dr. Fitch, at the top level of big organizations, they appoint coaches in the same way that they hand out stethoscopes to doctors. They are seen as essential. She is trying to bring that same mindset to medicine. 

Dr. Fitch uses a number of techniques with her clients. She shared her favorite, and encouraged us to try it out ourselves. Simply take a few minutes each day to write down answers to three simple questions designed to bring a little perspective: 

  • In a positive way, what surprised you today?
  • What warmed your heart today?
  • What inspired you today?


Dr. Fitch’s experience highlights the vital impact that getting an outside perspective can have on your life. Often doctors experiencing burnout can feel isolated, without the support they need. Getting an executive coach to guide you through those difficult times can be hugely beneficial. 

With that in mind, Dr. Fitch has generously offered listeners a free, no-obligation 30-minute clarity call. I encourage you to take advantage of it if you feel burned out, or confused about the direction of your career.

Links for today's episode:

Thanks to our sponsor…

Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at

I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.

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Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton.


The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business. 

Many of the links that I refer you to, and that you’ll find in the show notes, are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you, that I have personally used or am very familiar with.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career. 

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