Hello, and welcome to today's edition of the PNC podcast. I'm a bit late posting this episode. I just returned from a trip to northern Minnesota, which included a short visit with one of my nine siblings and her husband. It was so nice to relax, do some fishing, and then chat with Carla and her husband, Fred. But I'm ready to talk about your journey from victim to leader.

I'm refreshed and rested. I've cut down my clinical responsibilities to eight shifts per month, so I'm ready to put a little more effort into the blog and podcast. My goal is to spend even more time creating inspiring and educational content to help you pursue your passions and find that fulfilling new calling.

from victim to leader journey

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

A Question to Consider

Let's begin with a question. Do you know anybody that demonstrates the following qualities: Focus, confidence, transparency, integrity, inspiration, passion, patience, calm (or unflappability), nerdiness, authenticity, decisiveness, affability, optimism, generosity, persistence, intelligence, insight, clarity (in communication, especially), and accountability?

You might say that those are many of the qualities that you'll find in a physician, and I would tend to agree with you. Not every physician has every one of those qualities, but certainly medical education fosters the adoption of these qualities in our personality, and our way of thinking. And guess where these terms came from? They came from several articles describing the qualities of a great leader.

Now, there are a few other qualities, skills and attitudes that should be adopted if you want to take those physician qualities and enhance them to become a really highly effective leader. And those would be things like strategic thinking, collaborative thinking, humility, non-complacency (meaning you're always wanting to improve an organization), the ability to delegate well, being open-minded, receptive, and innovative.

But clearly, physicians already have the majority of the basic qualities that one would like to see in a leader. So let's keep this in mind as I move to my next point, and then I'll bring it back to the qualities that can help you shift from victim to leader.

Feeling Like Victims

For years, I've read surveys showing that physicians are often unhappy. They're sometimes burned out, and they're planning to retire early. That's why many of you listen to this podcast. You're looking for a way to escape some of the negative consequences of working in our current healthcare system. If you ask any physician what they don't like, you'll get a list of 10 or more things that are wrong with “medicine.”

from victim to leader sadness

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

But here are two questions I'd like you to consider as you pursue your next career:

  • What can you do to change things?
  • How can you step up and take a leadership role in making healthcare better for physicians and patients?

Heck, you're going to make a change anyway, why not incorporate leadership into that change? Why not adopt a vision that includes changing things for the better for yourself, your colleagues and the medical profession?

Just shifting careers is a demonstration of your leadership, of taking action, of setting goals and thinking more strategically. There is no shortage of possible problems for physician leaders to solve. Rather than complaining, I believe we should step up and fix the problems that are plaguing us.

A Few Physician Leaders

Here are just a few examples of physicians who have done just that.

Pamela Wible, a family physician, has taken on the issue of physician depression and suicide. She couldn't stand by and watch as physician suicides grew to double the rate in non-physicians. She has written books and presented TEDMED talks on the topic. And she has developed her own approach to addressing burnout by promoting a style of practice she calls Ideal Medical Care.

Atul Gawande, a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, has taken on the issue of patient safety. As a public health journalist and author, having witnessed many preventable medical errors around him, he was inspired to speak and write about the issue. He recently was selected to lead the high-profile healthcare venture started by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway as its first CEO.

Serafino Garella, a nephrologist, founded the largest free clinic in the US. He was compelled to address the intense need for care of the poor in Chicago, Illinois.

victim to leader in front

Photo by Ethan Weil on Unsplash

Robert Wachter, an internist, started the hospitalist movement in the United States. He recognized the negative effects of trying to balance an outpatient practice with the increasingly complex care of hospitalized patients, and created a solution.

Howard Maron, a former Seattle SuperSonics team physician, founded a clinic that introduced what became known as Concierge Medicine. He was responding to the overwhelming paperwork, lack of control, rushed visits, and unhappy patients he and his colleagues were encountering.

Finally, Meg Edison, a pediatrician and AMA delegate, has been heavily involved in organized medicine. As a delegate to the Michigan State Medical Society, she has written multiple resolutions related to maintenance of certification, or MOC, that have been adopted.

The MOC program is widely seen as overly burdensome in both time and expense, reducing time available for patients. The exams have little relevance to the individual physicians practice, and there's no proof that it improves patient care. Her work changed AMA policy on this issue. And it led to the growing number of states that have passed legislation prohibiting MOC participation as a way to exclude physicians from hospital appointment or insurance panels.

All of these solutions were a result of physicians identifying a problem, becoming obsessed with solving it, and taking action.

It took leadership.

Evolve From Victim to Leader as You Pursue a New Career

As you're becoming re-energized about a new career direction, think about how you might positively impact healthcare at a higher level. To do so will improve physician engagement, in general. The more physicians involved at leadership levels in any field, the more that other physicians will become engaged. As physicians, we prefer to work for organizations that understand us, acknowledge our challenges, and work to reduce or eliminate them.

Physician leaders can elevate teams. Your commitment, dedication, and passion will become contagious. You'll inspire nurses, technicians, pharmacists, and other team members, as you identify and pursue a laudable goal. Ultimately as leaders, you'll have a greater impact on your community. By developing a purposeful calling and devoting yourself to servant leadership, you will have the opportunity to improve the health of your constituents.

How many free medical clinics have been started by courageous physicians taking a leadership role?

Think about all the problems that can be overcome if we devote ourselves to addressing them. The next time you hear yourself complaining to your colleagues, step back for a moment and reflect. Make a commitment to address the issues you're complaining about, even as you embrace career change. Maybe it's those irritating issues that will serve as the focus of your new career.

Begin a journey to take control of the situation, and move from victim to leader.

Thanks for listening today. I recently completed a survey and I had a pretty good response from many of you. One of the things you mentioned is sometimes you would like a shorter podcast episode. I think today's episode qualifies. In a future episode, I'm going to summarize the findings of the survey for you.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Join me next week for an exciting interview with a fellow blogger dedicated to supporting physicians seeking a new career.

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