I Can Fly And Miguel Is Teaching Me

Miguel was part of a team that broke the world record in skydiving sequential. 111 people, 3 points at skydive Chicago. Thank you Miguel for permission to use this photo.

Miguel was part of a team that broke the world record in skydiving sequential. 111 people, 3 points at skydive Chicago. Thank you Miguel for permission to use this photo.

How Does Peer Mentoring Work?

Peer Mentoring. We all do it. However, we don’t always notice that we’re doing it. That lack of awareness makes it less effective. When we’re aware of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, we can be much more effective. I think I can explain this best by way of an example.

Taking Flight

I already know how to fly. For me, this involves buying a ticket, showing up, and having a highly trained individual (a pilot) do it for me. My goal is to get to my destination safely and efficiently.

As a kid, learning to fly didn’t work out so well. I had unrealistic expectations, no equipment, and inadequate training & practice. I would flap my arms as hard as I could and jump from a tree, but I always ended up crash landing.

However, I have a surgeon friend (Miguel) that knows several ways to fly. While he might describe it otherwise, from my perspective Miguel is an expert. Miguel has clocked over 800 hours as a private pilot. He’s also jumped out of an airplane over 2400 times.

You’re probably thinking he must be crazy. My thought was “How cool!” While one of those used to be on my bucket list, my maturity has allowed me to understand that my knees, back, and neck are in no condition to tolerate that experience. Rather, my “how cool” thought comes from how much I enjoy learning about other surgeons’ fitness, mindfulness, or recharge activities. Miguel has been able to create longevity in his career by maintaining and expanding his skills inside and outside of the operating room.

Peer Mentoring

So how does this apply to peer mentoring?

Peer mentoring involves helping your peers be more aware. After talking with Miguel just once at length, he responded in an email:

“I have to thank you for your encouragement and your website. If your goal is to change surgeons’ lives, man I tell you,.. you are doing it!!”

Peer mentoring is not one-sided. Miguel is also mentoring me. His knowledge in areas that require hours and hours of training, significant planning, teamwork, checklists, and where the consequence of shortcuts can be catastrophic, is extremely valuable to me. It raises my awareness both inside and outside of the operating room.


SurgeonMasters creates peer-mentoring opportunities through Meetups, Webinars, Web-Conferences and more. Contact us to see what opportunities best fit your time, energy and budget. SurgeonMasters is a continuing medical education company focused on delivering medical education, strategies and techniques overlooked or underemphasized in traditional medical training that improve practice performance, surgeon wellness and ultimately, patient outcomes.



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Doctor Alienation

Photo by peepo/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by peepo/iStock / Getty Images

In a recent article, Dr. Melinda Hakim discusses the alienation of American physicians in our current landscape. The system is causing physicians to burnout, face bankruptcy, retire early, or simply choose not to become a doctor or surgeon in the first place. Many of our best and brightest minds from Ivy League schools are simply choosing a different career path. In this article, we will take a look at some of the factors causing these issues, and offer some solutions.

A Shrinking Talent Pool

There is no denying that the talent pool of future physicians is shrinking. Many undergraduate students are looking at the healthcare industry and picking a different career path because they don’t like what they see.

“Of course, we cannot deny that we need to focus on curtailing health care costs,” Dr. Hakim explains in the article. “But we absolutely cannot cut health care at the expense of alienating physicians. Our talent pool is rapidly shrinking.”

Factors that Alienate (Potential) Physicians

Dr. Hakim outlines a few reasons why students who might be interested in pursuing a career in medicine forego medical school for another profession:

  1. Running a successful private practice is becoming more and more difficult due to increased overhead and decreasing reimbursements.

  2. Paperwork takes up more of a doctor’s time than actually caring for patients.

  3. Student loan debt from medical school averages out at roughly $183,000.

  4. When you account for actual hours worked per week, many young doctors earn barely more than minimum wage.

Solving These Issues

So how do we solve these issues and encourage more people to pursue a career in medicine? Here are a few solutions:

  • Compensation is Key. Many young physicians and surgeons work 100+ hours per week. We need to compensate these physicians for their time, as well as their incredible skills and knowledge.

  • Encourage Autonomy. There is a lot of red tape and burdensome regulation in the healthcare industry. Coding requirements, EHR mandates, government reporting regulations, and the like can lead to burnout and prevent physicians from caring for patients.

We need to put these tips into action and convince the next generation of potential physicians that pursuing a career in medicine is worthwhile. If you have other suggestions, email them to Team@SurgeonMasters.com.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-alienation-of-americas-best-doctors_us_582899a4e4b0852d9ec218ef?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003


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Beating Back Burnout in Five Steps

In a recent article published in bizjournals.com, executive coach and author Bruce Roselle outlined some of the factors that can contribute to burnout, as well as 5 steps for beating burnout. In this article, I’d like to apply Bruce’s steps to prevent burnout to the medical profession and surgeons in particular.

Recognizing The Signs of Burnout

One of the toughest parts about burnout is recognizing the signs and symptoms when they arise. Bruce outlines four of the signs of burnout, listed below:

  1. Taking on the weight of total responsibility. Taking on too much at work is an express ticket to burnout. It’s great to take initiative and step up when you need to, but you also need to know when to say no.

  2. Being stuck in the moment with no time to plan ahead. When you’re overwhelmed it can feel like you don’t have time to plan ahead – only time enough to react to things as they happen to you.

  3. Reacting to others with frustration, anger. This is a common sign of burnout – especially when you typically react with calm understanding.

  4. Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, confused, exhausted, and incompetent. These are the most common feelings among burned out surgeons. They can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of burnout.

Beating Back Burnout

Recognizing burnout is half the battle. Once you’ve recognized these signs in yourself it’s time to take action to stop the burnout. Here are 5 tips for surgeons to beat back burnout when it strikes:

  1. Take the signs seriously. It can be easy to ignore the telltale signs of burnout and think that it couldn’t possibly happen to you.

  2. Build a support network. Talking through your experiences with like-minded surgeons can be hugely beneficial.

  3. Be good to your mind/body/spirit. Many doctors and surgeons are bad at practicing the good health that they preach. It’s essential to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

  4. Turn work over to others — let it go. Thought many surgeons think of themselves as superhuman, that’s simply not the case. You’re not superman and that’s OK.

  5. Establish realistic limits. You’ve got to recognize your physical, mental, and emotional limits, and learn when to say no so you don’t exceed those limits.

Building a Successful & Sustainable Practice

Looking for a system to put these tips into practice? SurgeonMasters offers educational tools, webinars, and meetups with like-minded surgeons in an effort to prevent surgeon burnout and help surgeons build better practices. If you’ve experienced the symptoms of burnout in your practice, let us know what strategies have worked for you to beat back burnout.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2017/03/how-to-beat-burnout-in-5-steps.html


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How to Manage Stress, Instead of Avoiding it

Photo by tetmc/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by tetmc/iStock / Getty Images

How to Manage Stress, Instead of Avoiding It

Stress is one of the primary contributors to burnout among surgeons (and other working professionals, for that matter). Most people try their best to avoid stress in their everyday lives. We’re constantly told to “live a stress-free life” – but that type of thinking is actually detrimental. Stress is a part of everyone’s life. Avoiding stress will only exacerbate and compound the issue. We’d be much better off by managing the stress in our lives, rather than outright avoiding it. In this article, we’re going to offer some tips for managing (instead of avoiding) stress as it arises.

Practice Healthy Habits

Doctors and surgeons encounter extreme levels of stress in their daily lives. When you’re literally holding a patient’s life in your hands, it’s no surprise that stress levels can be high. With such massive levels of stress, many people will turn to unhealthy habits in order to deal with their stress levels. Some physicians smoke cigarettes, or drink heavily, or eat a lot of junk food. These vices offer short-term stress relief, but are unhealthy and detrimental in the long-run. Try to combat these bad habits by forming healthy habits that reduce stress, like exercise, meditation, and socialization.


A solid night’s sleep on a consistent basis is absolutely crucial to managing stress. We’ve all woken up after a poor night’s sleep and been irritable the entire day. Doctors often have to work long shifts at odd hours. That can lead to irregular and unhealthy sleep patterns. It’s amazing what a consistent sleep schedule can do to manage your stress levels. Do your best to create and stick to a sleep schedule by setting sleep goals for yourself.

Recognize & Address the Issue

Many surgeons bury their stress and go about their days as normal. When stress lurks below the surface, it’s bound to bubble up eventually and negatively impact your performance. It’s important to recognize stress and address it, rather than trying to avoid or bury it.

Got other tips SurgeonMasters should know about? Email them to us, Team@surgeonMasters.com.

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Hospital Characteristics that can lead to Doctor Burnout

In an article published on Kevinmd.com titled “Is your hospital a miserable place to work? Here are 14 clues,” Dr. Robert Khoo sarcastically offers 14 guidelines for hospitals to follow in order to make their employees more miserable and prone to burnout. Dr. Khoo details these guidelines to prove a point about hospital work conditions, and I’m sure many surgeons can personally identify with many of these. This article was written in 2015 but these issues are still prevalent in many hospital settings. In this article, I’d like to take a look at 8 of these 14 characteristics and how they can lead to a burnout-prone work environment.

Top-Down Management

When upper managers make blanket decisions without considering or addressing the needs of specific participants in different departments, it can be incredibly frustrating. Involving us in these decisions is a great way to ensure happy surgeons across the board.

Doctor’s Lounge

The doctor’s lounge has been making a comeback recently in some hospitals in the broad effort to combat physician burnout. Doctor’s lounges can offer a place for doctors to find a quick mental, emotional or physical recharge amidst what can be a very hectic and stressful work environment.

Quarterly Staff Meetings

It’s essential to field questions and take feedback from physicians during quarterly staff meetings rather than using this time to simply explain new procedures and protocol.

Dealing with Burnout Complaints

Take complaints of burnout from physicians and other staff seriously, as it correlates with patient quality and efficiency outcomes. Burnout is a serious issue and should be treated as such. Even better, take steps to help decrease stressors, offer opportunities for choices, or allow some control to be felt by those working with your system.

Irrelevant Metrics

Focusing on irrelevant metrics will only frustrate and anger your surgeons. Patient care is more difficult to quantify, but is the most important metric. Understand that at our core we are driven more by quality than quantity.

Patient Reviews

Patient reviews are important, but not nearly as important as great care. If a surgeon gets a poor review because they refused to overprescribe for a patient, don’t make them feel under-valued. Consider modifying mission statements and educating patients and family members that their satisfaction is a high priority, but not at the expense of their care and well-being.

Cutting Expenses

Cutting expenses while demanding increased productivity or compliance with additional administrative burdens of the human elements, while cutting expense in areas of support is a recipe for burnout or failure. Look for technical or system efficiencies that help save money. Educate surgeons and staff on process improvement strategies that save time and money.

Work / Life Balance

Many physicians and surgeons work crazy hours that cut into their family and home time. Encourage a healthy work / life balance that allows professionals to promote patient wellness by example or role-modeling surgeon wellness.

Addressing These Issues

These 8 characteristics of burnout-prone hospital environments are a serious concern to surgeon wellness. Let’s make an effort to work with our hospital’s leadership to address these issues if present, and provide the best work environment for patient care.  If you have tried this on your own and failed, don’t give up. We can do this TOGETHER! Let us know how we can help.


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