The Prosperous Doc Podcast (formerly the White Coat Wellness Podcast) is a show for doctors who are ready to improve their overall wellness in every aspect of life. In each episode we highlight real-life stories from physicians and dentists to inspire you to become a prosperous doc yourself and achieve personal, professional, and financial wellness.
If you would like to know more about the Prosperous Doc show, find show notes, and learn more about our host, Shane Tenny, visit bit.ly/ProsperousDoc.
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The Role that Empathy, Compassion, and Emotional Agility Play in Bridging the Doctor-Patient Gap with Dr. Joseph Stern
Dr. Joseph Stern was accustomed to helping patients face some of the toughest times of their lives.
But when his sister was diagnosed with advanced leukemia, he realized what it was like to be on the other side of the doctor-patient relationship — and gained some crucial insights along the way.
To Dr. Stern, grief is a part of life that everyone will experience at some point. This begs the question: why don’t we take an honest and community-oriented approach to dealing with it? Too often, he says, doctors gloss over the intense emotional aspects of their job. Ultimately, that avoidance leads to problems.
“I think a lot of times doctors burn out, not because of the intensity of the emotions, but because of all the effort that they put into avoiding them,” Dr. Stern says.
On this episode of the Prosperous Doc ®, our host Shane Tenny, CFP® welcomes Dr. Stern to talk about how his experience of personal loss has helped him become a more compassionate and empathetic doctor who can help more people.
Dr. Stern talks about how he is working to change the medical field to be more compassionate, focusing less on procedures and more on relationships and quality of life. After his experience grieving the loss of his sister after being with her through such a tough illness, his outlook has shifted toward one of empathy and compassion — and this is something he says everyone can do without much effort.
“Empathy actually doesn't take much time, it's not like you have to devote more time. I think it’s a common myth: people think, well, if I'm going to be empathic, that means I have to see fewer patients, and I have to spend more time (with each of them),” Dr. Stern says. “No: it means making eye contact, it means listening — not just blurting things out. It means being more of a partner and less of a position of authority.”
💡 Featured Expert 💡Name: Dr. Joseph Stern
What he does: Dr. Stern is a board-certified neurosurgeon and author. He is also the co-director of the https://www.conehealth.com/services/cancer-care/brain-spine/ (Cone Health Brain Tumor Program), specializing in brain tumor surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, spinal surgery, and functional neurosurgery. His memoir “https://www.amazon.com/Grief-Connects-Us-Neurosurgeons-Compassion/dp/1949481514 (Grief Connects Us: A Neurosurgeon’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and Compassion,)” explores how grief and loss helped him break down the emotional armor that can hinder incorporating compassion and empathy in a doctor-patient relationship.
Words of wisdom: “An important take-home message is that grief does connect us all. We are all linked together.”
Connect: https://www.josephsternmd.com/ (Website) | https://www.linkedin.com/in/joseph-stern-md-81487a214/ (Linkedin) | https://www.instagram.com/josephsternmd/ (Instagram) | https://twitter.com/josephsternmd (Twitter)
💰 On the Money 💰Top takeaways from this episode
★ Learn from your personal experience. Dr. Stern had a really impactful experience on the other side of the curtain in the medical industry when he was helping care for his sister with terminal leukemia. This experience ultimately changed his ethos as a doctor and has made his career more meaningful.
★ Don’t shy away from vulnerability. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, we’ll all come into contact with death and sickness at some point, and supporting each other through those experiences is a crucial part of surviving some of the toughest times. Dr. Stern says that as a doctor, it’s important to realize that while it may seem easier to avoid talking directly to patients suffering from serious illnesses and open up about death, that isn’t doing them — or you, for that matter — any favors.
★ Compassionate medical professionals can make waves. While doctors who haven’t had true compassion for their patients have caused destruction and harm, those who put empathy and compassion first can make a re
Rethinking Burnout and Why it is Important to Address it at the Organizational Level with Paula Davis
Becoming a lawyer made Paula Davis realize that she’d always been destined for one kind of job: teaching! She just took a less-than-typical route to make it happen.
After earning her undergraduate degree in psychology, Paula graduated from law school. Working for corporate America eventually burned her out. That’s when she returned to her plans to teach.
She went back to school, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Applied Positive Psychology program. As part of the university’s Resiliency Program, she taught Army personnel coping skills for depression. Based on this education, Paula was able to finally become a teacher.
Of her time in the program, Paula says, “It taught me about how to teach adults and how to learn these types of skills, because I was a lawyer — I had no clue how to do that.” She credits the program with giving her the tools she needed to start the Stress and Resilience Institute (SRI). She’s also the author of the book “Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience.”
In this episode of the Prosperous Doc ®, our host Shane Tenny, CFP®, welcomes Paula Davis to discuss the work taking place at the SRI. The institute’s areas of research include the effects of stress and burnout in industries including tech, the military and healthcare, and strategies to help individuals and leaders better manage their working environments.
Paula also discusses what she calls the Core Six causes of burnout, and a strategy called PRIME.
“Each letter stands for a really important competency or set of skills that a team, individuals and leaders can implement to create this great environment and slow burnout,” she says.
💡 Featured Expert 💡Name: Paula Davis
What she does: As the founder and CEO of the Stress and Resilience Institute, Paula Davis has taught programs to thousands of professionals, leaders, and teams on the topics of stress, burnout prevention, and building resilience.
Company: https://stressandresilience.com/ (Stress and Resilience Institute)
Book: https://stressandresilience.com/burnout-book/ (Bearing Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience)
Words of wisdom: “[Resilience] is largely misunderstood, because we equate resilience with making me tougher … It was [really[ about helping them recognize and understand how to navigate everyday challenges and significant challenges.”
Connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pauladavislaack/ (LinkedIn) | https://twitter.com/pauladavisSRI (Twitter) | Email
💰 On the Money 💰Top takeaways from this episode
★ Stress and burnout are not the same. Everyone feels fluctuating levels of stress at work. Maybe it’s up one day because you have a deadline, and down the next when your workload has decreased comfortably. Burnout is the result of chronic stress, and often manifests in small ways. The challenge, Paula says, is determining whether you’re experiencing normal levels of work-related stress, or if you’re reaching the burnout stage.
★ Address burnout at the organizational level. Burnout isn’t just an individual issue: It’s usually caused by problems that are present throughout the organization. Unfortunately, managers and supervisors often don’t notice the true extent of these issues, and the impact on workers, until it’s too late.
★ The PRIME way to address burnout at work. Paula uses the acronym PRIME to describe tools teams can use to prevent burnout. It stands for psychological safety and needs; relationships; impact; mental strength; and energy.
⚡ Prosperous Insights ⚡[02:33] A long time coming: Paula Davis says that although COVID-19 exacerbated burnout, Americans have been suffering from a burnout crisis for quite some time. It’s urgent that professional leaders take action.
[8:00] Rethink resilience: When people hear the term “resilient,” they assume it means to toughen up. Paula, however, defines “resilienc
What’s Changing with Public Service Loan Forgiveness with Will Koster
In this special episode of the Prosperous Doc® Podcast, Will Koster, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Spaugh Dameron Tenny, is here to walk you through student loans and recent updates to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
He helps make sense of how the recent changes might apply to you, this is an episode you don’t want to miss if you have outstanding student loans.
The https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/pslf-limited-waiver (announcement from the Department of Education) in early October that they will be easing some of the requirements for Public Service Loan Forgiveness likely left many people feeling a mix of emotions. From confusion over how this affects them, the excitement that they may now qualify, and stress over missing a crucial detail that might mean money spent unnecessarily.
Throughout this episode, Will reviews how the new special waiver allows Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) to be consolidated into the Direct Loan Program and become eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the changes to what repayment plans are qualified as part of the program.
Will also addresses next steps if you believe you qualify for the Student Loan Forgiveness program, including:
Step 1: Verify your employment. To verify that you have worked for a qualifying employer for the duration of your 120 payments, you need to submit an https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/public-service-application-for-forgiveness.pdf (Employment Certification Form) for each of your employers over the 10 years.
Step 2: Consolidate your FFEL and Perkins Loans. After confirming that your employment is eligible, request a https://studentaid.gov/app/launchConsolidation.action (Direct Consolidation Loan) before the October 31, 2022 deadline. This only needs to be done if your loans are not direct loans. You can complete this step for free by visiting https://studentaid.gov/app/launchConsolidation.action (Gov Federal Student Aid). You do not need to pay for assistance in consolidating your loans.
Step 3: You’re now ready to apply for PSLF and TEPSLF (Temporary Expanded PSLF). You can complete this by using the online https://studentaid.gov/pslf/ (PSLF Help Tool) found at https://studentaid.gov/ (studentaid.gov).
“Depending on if you have FFEL loans, depending on if you've certified your employer before, depending on who your servicer is, all of those factors will maybe change your path just a little bit,” explains Will. “But the same rules, the same criteria, and the same application process pretty much apply to everyone. Whether you've completed them or not is probably personal or unique to your situation.”
➜For further reading, Will shares more about this topic in this blog post: https://www.sdtplanning.com/blog/federal-student-loans-news-temporary-pslf-waiver (Federal Student Loan News: Temporary Public Service Loan Forgiveness).
➜If you’re a physician or a dentist and you need help navigating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs, Will Koster’s firm is here to help, you can find them online at https://www.sdtplanning.com/ (www.sdtplanning.com).
💡 Featured Expert 💡Name: Will Koster, CFP®
What he does: Will is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and a Certified Student Loan Professional®. He also has his FINRA Series 7 and 66 licenses, life and health insurance licenses, and is an investment advisor representative.
Company: https://www.sdtplanning.com/ (Spaugh Dameron Tenny)
Words of wisdom: “One of the most amazing facts about this announcement is that the federal government's saying they will give money back to borrowers who have made more than 120 qualifying payments. If a borrower has made 140 payments now toward the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, those 20 extra payments that have occurred in the last two or so years can be refunded, which is amazing.”
Connect: https://www.sdtplanning.com/will-koster-bio (Website) | https://www.linkedin.com/in/will-koster/ (Linke
Carving Out a Path to Happiness and Success in Dentistry with Dr. Michael Williams
From the start, Dr. Michael Williams knew he wanted to run his own business. He liked the independence of working for himself and deciding on his own path.
After finishing his dental residency, Dr. Williams worked as an associate in a private practice for about four years before starting his first practice.
“Growing up, we had a few family friends that were dentists and watching them own their own business, talk about the autonomy, talk about work-life balance … that seemed admirable, that seemed exciting,” Dr. Williams says.
On this episode of the Prosperous Doc ®, our host Shane Tenny, CFP®, welcomes Dr. Williams to discuss his path toward independence and the hurdles that come with business ownership.
“After practicing for a few years, after a good education, great residency experience, I was very confident and capable clinically ... But when it came to being a business owner, being a leader in the practice, I felt I hadn't had enough formal training, but also just not enough hands-on experience to be able to tackle that on my own,” Dr. Williams explains about those early stages.
Dr. Williams and another dentist entrepreneur in the Charlotte, NC area bought a practice together. His partner had more experience with the business-side of things, having previously purchased a few practices.
After working there for some time, Dr. Williams felt he had outgrown his role and wanted to step into a leadership position, inspiring him to branch out and buy a practice on his own.
“I just got serious about embracing my role as a leader in the practice that I was in, in my partnership, honing in on the skills to become a better leader,” Dr. Williams says.
💡 Featured Expert 💡Name: Dr. Michael T. Williams, DMD, FAGD
What he does: Dr. Williams has been in private practice in Charlotte since 2010. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the North Carolina Dental Society, the Academy of General Dentistry and is the president of the Charlotte Dental Society. Dr. Williams was awarded a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry achieved by only 6% of dentists.
Company: https://williamsdentalclt.com/ (Williams Dental) | https://www.facebook.com/williamsdentalcharlotte (Facebook)
Words of wisdom: “I learned through this journey that nothing really has to be permanent.”
Connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-t-williams-dmd-fagd-24b80a59/ (LinkedIn) | Email
💰 On the Money 💰Top takeaways from this episode
★ Understanding the business-side of operations is crucial. Dr. Williams says dentists spend so much time honing their clinical and patient skills that learning about business practices falls to the wayside. Gaining an understanding of the behind-the-scenes operations is a crucial step before starting practice.
★ Financial and business coaches can make a big difference. Hiring someone to help with marketing or improving the business model can greatly impact a practice’s success.
★ Be willing to make changes. As a dentist’s career aspirations change, so does the big picture. Life changes. Be willing to take steps in the direction of larger payoffs and happier careers.
⚡ Prosperous Insights ⚡[03:51] Hone clinical and patient skills: Dr. Michael Williams, immediately following his residency, worked as a private practice associate for 3 to 4 years, harnessing those crucial clinical and interpersonal skills.
[07:46] Confidence and skill sets grow: After working at this joint practice for a few years, Dr. Williams felt he had “outgrown the space” and wanted to take on more of a leadership role in a practice of his own.
[09:32] Harnessing leadership skills: “Regardless of how much I maybe didn't want to be in a leadership role, it was there and I needed to just learn to embrace it,” Dr. Williams says of his desire to take the leap from partner to sole owner of a practice.
[12:42] Seek counsel from advisors and coaches: Without much knowledge of how
Building Trusted Doctor-Patient Relationships Through More Effective Communication with Shelly O’Donovan
After spending the first part of her career in political and governmental affairs for healthcare companies, Shelly O’Donovan noticed that there was a pattern to effective communication.
On this episode of the Prosperous Doc®, our host Shane Tenny, CFP® welcomes Shelly to discuss her work and research about better communication — particularly with doctor-patient communication.
Shelly, who delivers training programs to help executives and teams use authentic communication to deliver a message, shares how important strong communication and nonverbal cues are for building trust between doctors and patients.
There is Strength in Scars: Creating Books With a Purpose with Dr. Maria Baimas-George
In this episode of Prosperous Doc®, our host Shane Tenny, CFP®, welcomes Dr. Baimas-George, a surgical resident at Carolinas Medical Center of Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to discussing her medical career, Dr. Baimas-Georges tells us about her children’s book series, “The Strength of My Scars: Pediatric Surgical Chronicles,” and the path that led her to create such meaningful work.
Dr. Baimas-George’s first-hand experience in the pediatric surgery service shed light on the information that gets lost in translation between patients, their caregivers, and physicians.
Shane is a great interviewer
Not only are these conversations really valuable for doctors but they’re really engaging!
Partly because of the topics and the guests but mostly because of Shane’s interviewing skills. He leads the conversations really well and squeeze out a lot of juicy details from his guests.