We Are Wellness! - Life improvement strategies for the surgeon who wants more ... in 10 minutes - Episode 41

Pump the brakes on your week and take 10 minutes to make your life as a surgeon just a little better…

In this episode of the mini-podcast, Jeff is reporting from the 2019 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. An important session at the conference addressed a broad spectrum of ideas related to burnout prevention and wellness. The session was titled, Surgeon Well Being for the Benefit of the Patient: How Can We Become Better for Everyone Else?

The moderator, Dr. Shah, and the panel of speakers did a great job of communicating an important take-home message, and one of SurgeonMasters core beliefs, wellness is personal and unique to each of us. Further, there are simple, practical steps we can take now to improve our well-being. In the end we all benefit - our patients, families, friends, and especially ourselves.

While the wellness suggestions from the panel were broad in scope ranging from improving ergonomic practices in the OR to finding time for hobbies, the message is clear: start taking simple steps now to improve your well-being.

What steps do we take to start?

  • Step 1 - Find something that resonates with you. Wellness comes in many forms. You don’t have to adhere to what often is top of mind when others think of wellness, like yoga and meditation.

  • Step 2 - Don’t feel the overwhelm. Focus on the quality of your time spent in this activity. With the busy schedule of a surgeon focusing on time can feel like a lost cause.  

  • Step 3 - Go do it! Create a plan to make it happen. Consider asking a friend to be an accountability partner to ensure greater uptake of your wellness strategy, habit, or activity.

Most importantly, get started! Incremental steps can lead to meaningful changes in our physical, mental, and emotional well-being!


What Does Wellness Mean to You? SurgeonMasters Wants to Know.

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Cognitive Distortions! - Life improvement strategies for the surgeon who wants more ... in 10 minutes - Episode 40

Pump the brakes on your week and take 10 minutes to make your life as a surgeon just a little better…

In this episode of the mini-podcast, Jeff travels to Palm Desert for One AO, the annual CMF, Spine, Trauma and Vet meeting organized by AO North America. The theme of this year’s meeting was, “Are we as good as we think we are?” Conversations in Quality, Metrics, Competence, and Surgical Training.” This conference is always full of excellent talks where the focus is less on surgical techniques, and more on improving our system and practice environment.

One talk in particular stuck with Jeff. Stuart Slavin, MD, MEd delivered a keynote, “Quality of Life: Physician Wellness.” It was an inspiring message. Dr. Slavin started by sharing the staggering rates of depression, anxiety, and burnout in medical students. Unsurprisingly he advocates for many of the same values SurgeonMasters espouses - workload, rewards, control, community, and fairness.

Dr. Slavin issued a challenge to all of us - start to change your mindset! In life there are a number of problematic mindsets that lead to elevated levels of anxiety and depression, while discouraging sustainability. A few examples Dr. Slavin mentions are maladaptive perfectionism, seeing performance as identity, and cognitive distortions.

It’s the last mindset, cognitive distortions, that really got Jeff thinking. The last few years have led to a change in mindset for Jeff, and Dr. Slavin’s message really hit home.

What steps does Jeff suggest we take?

  • Step 1 - Research problematic mindsets or cognitive distortions.

  • Step 2 - Bring awareness to your own problematic mindsets.  

  • Step 3 - Turn it to the Positive! Take next steps to build healthy mindsets.

Most importantly, learn for yourself! Seek out resources that raise your awareness of your cognitive distortions to find areas for performance improvement.


Responding to Criticism! - Life improvement strategies for the surgeon who wants more ... in 10 minutes - Episode 39

Pump the brakes on your week and take 10 minutes to make your life as a surgeon just a little better…

Jeff welcomes to the SurgeonMasters mini-podcast orthopaedic surgeon and current hand fellow at Thomas Jefferson University, Paulvalery (Paul) Roulette, MD. The topic of discussion in this episode is Responding to Criticism!

Paul describes the importance of feedback and how to respond positively to it. As we all know, receiving criticism and feedback is a regular occurrence for a surgeon, especially during residency and fellowship. In practice, we constantly receive feedback from patients, colleagues, and other members of our teams that impact our success. Irrespective of sender and motive, there is always something we can glean from the message. How we respond can go a long way in determining career satisfaction.

What steps does Paul suggest we do to improve how we respond to criticism?

Here’s what Paul suggests:

  • Step 1 - Divorce Emotion - Listen and truly consider what the other person is saying.

  • Step 2 - Listen Carefully - Capture the other person’s perspective and entertain that at least part of the criticism is true.

  • Step 3 - Return for Feedback - Once you have implemented efforts to incorporate the feedback centered on your strengths and addressing your weaknesses, return to see if the other thinks it is working.

When we respond to criticism positively, we improve our ability to make changes and understand the perspective of others. Responding positively has the ability to solidify relationships, improve our ability to self-assess, and increases the engagement of others in the process.

Most importantly, develop your own personal plan for responding positively to criticism!

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Dr. Paulvalery Roulette, MD is an orthopaedic hand surgery fellow at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. After completing his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, Paul continued his medical career at Carolinas Medical Center, completing an orthopaedic residency in 2018. His clinical time is spent on fractures of the hand, and his research focuses on burnout prevention and well-being. Outside of the delivery of care, his passion is volunteering internationally on humanitarian trips. When he is not caring for patients, Dr. Roulette is spending quality time with his family.

Financial Training! - Life improvement strategies for the surgeon who wants more ... in 10 minutes - Episode 38

Pump the brakes on your week and take 10 minutes to make your life as a surgeon just a little better…

Jeff welcomes to the mini-podcast Ryan Inman, MBA. Ryan is the founder of Financial Residency - a free financial education podcast for physicians and Physician Wealth Services, a fee-only financial planning company. The topic of our discussion in this episode is Financial Training!

Ryan joined Jeff on the mini-podcast to talk about financial training for physicians. As the husband of a pediatric pulmonologist, he knows from personal experience that physicians are highly intelligent. Having met many of his wife’s colleagues and hearing lots of stories, he knows that surgeons don’t receive much training in managing finances for business, and perhaps more importantly for our personal goals and financial wellness (wealth).

Ryan’s goal is to arm physicians with the knowledge they never received during medical school and residency. Does that sound familiar? *Ahem, cough, SurgeonMasters.*  Ryan started the Financial Residency Podcast to help physicians increase their financial literacy. Through his experience with his financial planning, Ryan understands that many of his clients, and physicians in general, are coming out of school with over $200K in debt. Despite that, he knows that lifestyle inflation is one of the most common first mistakes that many make.

Training on any subject begins with the basics. Then knowledge and success build with repeated practice.

How do we avoid lifestyle inflation and achieve long-term financial goals?

Here’s what Ryan suggests:

  • Step 1 - Take Control Early (or Now!) - Evaluate your financial situation. What is coming in? Where is your money going? Remember, it’s NEVER TOO LATE!

  • Step 2 - Understand Your Financial Goals - Importantly, how will this make you happy?

  • Step 3 - Create a Plan that will achieve these goals! What are your priorities so you achieve these first? Developing a plan and following it will help you get there.

While these basics steps describe WHAT needs to be done, HOW you do this is up to you. How will you improve your financial training and wealth?

Will you train yourself more?

Will you delegate some financial training?

Will you outsource your financial wealth to a financial planner?

Any of the above will require you to at least learn the basics. We hope you will add to your training with our podcast with Ryan Inman.


Ryan is Founder and Owner of Physician Wealth Services LLC, a fee-only financial planning firm created to help physicians and their families, like his, take control of their finances and position themselves for a bright financial future. His wife, Taylor, is a Pediatric Pulmonologist. His goal is to provide trustworthy, unbiased financial advice to dedicated, hardworking people like her.

He has an intimate knowledge of the pains, struggles, and joys that come from a career in medicine. He knows what it’s like to be buried in debt while his physician spouse makes next to nothing, spending every fourth night in the hospital. He understands what physicians are going through; he and his wife have been there.

He started his fee-only practice to help physicians sleep well at night knowing they have a trusted advisor guiding them toward financial independence. While Physician Wealth Services is his family practice, Ryan is also the host the Financial Residency podcast, a free resource to help physicians increase their financial literacy

Sleep Hygiene 2! - Life improvement strategies for the surgeon who wants more ... in 10 minutes - Episode 37

Pump the brakes on your week and take 10 minutes to make your life as a surgeon just a little better…

Jeff welcomes back to the podcast sleep medicine specialist and Chief Medical Officer of Optimism, Dominic Munafo, MD. The topic of sleep hygiene is so important, Jeff invited Dominic back to give us more tips for simple adjustments that can improve our ability to sleep and function during important moments.

Dominic tells us that morning light sets the body’s circadian rhythm, which can impact our ability to function during the day and sleep at night. But what if we’re working during the night and need to be alert on the drive home? In this case, there is a balance we can strike between proper light exposure and limiting light to improve our alertness and sleep health.

What are three ways Dominic suggest we can improve our sleep hygiene?

  • Suggestion 1 - Think about how light is impacting your body.

  • Suggestion 2 - Improve the amount of sleep - quality and quantity!

  • Suggestion 3 - Take a nap! Augmenting our sleep when we can is important to our long-term health.

Most importantly, increase awareness of your sleeping habits and look for opportunities to improve your sleep hygiene!


Jeff and Dominic understand this is not easy! And yet it is so important.

“Sleep hygiene is one of my biggest struggles. On the other hand, I truly believe it is never too late to try to get better. I am taking Dominic’s knowledge to create my own plan to improve my sleep hygiene. More effective naps to recover post-call! Observing how light impacts my alertness.” - Jeff Smith

If you’re not familiar with Dominic Munafo, he is board certified in Sleep Medicine and Internal Medicine. He has more than 25 years of experience diagnosing and treating patients with sleep-disordered breathing. Dr. Munafo received his M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Baylor and then completed