Do you face challenges in medicine and life but wish you could face them with more resilience?
Join today’s discussion with guest Dr. Mikel Segal to hear more about how you can grow your resilience and move forward in your life today. Get Dr. Segal’s FREE guide to improving your sleep HERE
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[0:00] Finish Charting Faster FREE PDF
[1:32] Dr. Segal’s journey to medicine
[2:54] Considering medicine as a career path
[6:22] More options in medicine than you realize
[9:58] Coaching helps resilience
[13:35] Limiting beliefs, thoughts that hold us back
[14:53] Asking for help builds resilience
[18:14] Self compassion in the midst of trauma
[21:59] Final advice
Above are the episode show notes and below is the transcript via www.otter.ai.com. Some episode transcripts have been edited more than others, but they are up in the meantime to help those who would rather read and for searchability on the web. Extensive editing has not been prioritized as I seek to both produce regular content and maintain my own wellness. See the website disclaimer if you have questions, since this is all for your education and entertainment only. Enjoy!
Do you love being a doctor? But all the charting and paperwork, all of those workflow things? Do they stress you out? You’re not alone.
I want you to get my free PDF guide with 10 steps to getting your work done faster so you can get home for what matters most. You can get your free guide at mededwell.com/efficiency Guide. Get yours today. Welcome to the MedEdWell podcast, empowering physicians to get work done at work, then be able to reflect and choose what is important for both their life and medical practice. I’m your host, Dr. Ryan Stegink, general pediatrician and life coach for physicians. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the MedEdWell podcast where physicians come to be encouraged and equipped to take the next step in their own wellness journey. Thank you so much for subscribing. And for sharing these episodes. We’re really engaging with these concepts.
Today, I am honored to have as a guest, Dr. McHale Siegel. Dr. Siegel is the physician and ICF certified life coach who supports people in upgrading their life and optimizing their physical, mental and emotional health. She loves spending time in nature, and taking advantage of her proximity to the mountains and ocean on the Pacific coast. Dr. Siegel, welcome to the show.
Hey, thank you so much. So great to be here. Thanks.
So tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey to medicine.
Okay, well, thank you for the intro. So yes, I’m living near the
ocean and the mountains on the Pacific coast. I did my medical training at University of British Columbia.
And I think actually, I was just reflecting on my journey today. While I was out on a walk by the ocean, as a matter of fact, and I was thinking,
you know, if I only knew then what I know now, kind of thing because I think, you know, as, as medical students were so young, we don’t really know what we’re getting ourselves into. And,
you know, I, I did my bachelor’s in science, I was always really interested in science and, and I did well in it. So it was just kind of, in a way, almost easy for me to go into just seemed like a natural progression of things to apply for medical school. And I got in. And
so yeah, I think,
you know, looking back on it, I didn’t I don’t really know if I really understood what I was committing to. But it just kind of felt like, yeah, this could be kind of a good career choice. And, you know, there’s lots of positive things about being a physician that I liked, you know, working with people and all the rest. But
yeah, I think you know,
it, I don’t know, if there’s a way to go about it, where people would actually know what they’re committing to. I don’t I don’t think there is a way
anyone could actually know what it’s like without having to go through the whole process. But yeah, it’s just it was just an interesting reflection on sort of how I got here. So yeah, I did,
did medical school, and then I did residency training and family medicine.
actually, almost immediately I was I think I was feeling like, gosh, I don’t know if I want to be a family doctor. Because there was things about it that I just found very challenging, especially.
I found, I found sort of the people, I was doing a lot of walk in clinics. So
you know, people tend to go to walk in clinics, because they need something rather urgently. And they also they have an agenda. So they want something from you. And it’s great if you sort of agree with whatever it is that they want. But there was a lot of conflict that occurred if there was, you know, if my assessment
didn’t match what they thought they needed, and I found that really challenging, and I didn’t enjoy that. So anyways, I was like, Yeah, after all this, I’m not sure this is what I want to be doing. But the great thing about being a family doctor or a doctor in general is that there’s lots of opportunities and there’s lots of things you can do with your skills. I know some of the other specialties are a little bit more limiting but with family medicine, there’s so many different things you can do with it, which is great. So I just tried out a whole bunch of different things.
things, sort of different clinics, different
different kind of workplaces with, with, you know a
kind of a focus on different things, I did a bit of work in the ICU, I did a bit of work up north in the Arctic.
And eventually found my way to hospital medicine, which ended up for me being a pretty good fit, because I was I enjoyed the sort of working amongst a group of specialists and as a team. And
so that’s where I’ve been for quite a number of years now, mainly, but I do a lot of other things. And that’s what I’ve come to come to appreciate about medicine is that there’s so much opportunity, and you can kind of dip your foot in here and there. And
for me, I was really missing the sort of creative
a way to sort of
use my creative energies a bit more. And so I’ve just started doing that a bit more within medicine and outside of medicine, it’s given me the opportunity to do that.
With my skill. So yeah, that’s a long, a long story. But that’s kind of my journey. Thanks for sharing that journey. It’s
sometimes Yeah, it’s it’s hard to know what you’re really getting into, and what it really feels like, until you’ve actually been there. I only had maybe a week of shadowing in the hospital, before I took the MCAT and went to medical school. And I’m just really thankful that it turned out to be the right choice for me. But I think even once you’re through training, like you noted, it’s there are options, though, we may not have seen that because being in one particular program, maybe your attendings or role models, mentors have only taken a small spectrum of the many paths that you could take in medicine. I didn’t have any of my
attendings that had done, rural wilderness medicine, that had done a whole lot of urgent care or locums work. And so, yeah, there’s just more out there than I think any of us realize before going to medicine, or even right after training.
So, what were some of the things that really helped you make some of those transitions to say, Okay, I’ve tried this, maybe I want to try something else? How did you work through that? And was it a good thing? Or was it just a, you came up against some hard things?
Well, a little bit of both. I mean, I think I’ve always been the type of person
who thinks a little bit outside the box. So I was always kind of keeping my ear and eye out for so what can I do, you know, a little bit different. And then, I think, but I did, as I said, sort of, kind of settled in to doing my hospitalist medicine. And I was fairly content doing that, and then that I had kids, and I think like coming out of that I was just as totally exhausted, probably mostly because I wasn’t sleeping well. And when I came back, I just I didn’t feel very good. And I was just looking at really thinking I don’t know how I’m going to continue on this way. I don’t I don’t know if I was actually burnt out, like, as you know,
you know, as a formal sort of thing, but I definitely wasn’t feeling great.
And look and then I was really starting to look at what else I could be doing. And I started attending different conferences like on lifestyle medicine, anti aging, and and then I kind of found my way into coaching. I discovered coaching I’d never even heard of coaching before and I was at a conference and one of the physicians there was talking about being a coach and it just blew my mind. I was like, Wow, this sounds amazing, like so that was when I really discovered coaching and then went down that whole pathway.
But yeah, I think so it wasn’t like I didn’t have like a real real a really low point but it was just kind of feeling like I can’t continue on like this. And and just kind of exploring what there was out there and certainly like doing the lifestyle medicine and the coaching. It’s kind of built in
you know, my lifestyle and what’s worked for me. And
and then I use that with my coaching as well in terms of all this stuff on, like resilience and positive psychology and all the kinds of stuff that you can all the tools that you can bring to kind of improve your life.
Well, and just seeing how your unique interests and like opportunities, just taking that and exploring that and just being aware of how you’re feeling how you’re experiencing that in, in that season of life, where you’ve had kids, and this was your current work experience? And to say, How’s that? How’s that working for you? How’s that really resonating with you, as you might say, and more of a coaching lens, but it really just comes down to? Where are you at? And then what’s important to you? And where do you want to go?
Yeah, yeah, I think as soon as I came up for like, I mean, obviously, at first with the kids and working, I was just in survival mode. But as soon as I kind of just was able to get my head above that water, I was like, Okay, I got it, something has to shift here. So, for me, that meant just like exploring other opportunities. Yeah. So was that your first kind of moment realizing the importance of resilience? Are you had you kind of built that in along the way?
Um, yeah, it’s funny, like, my parents, were always kind of interested in that kind of stuff, although I never really paid that much attention. Because I always figured, I mean, they were, they were kind of out there a little bit. And, you know, just having that science mind. I was like, oh, that’s, you know, that’s woowoo kind of stuff. But once you start going to these conferences, and now there’s so much data, and there’s so much science behind it all that when I could really get behind it almost like actually, they knew what they were talking about. They didn’t have the data behind them at the time, but now it’s there. And for me, I needed that right, I needed to have the science. So once I kind of understood that a lot of this is makes sense than I was 100% behind it.
How has getting into coaching helped you with your own resilience, and then walking other physicians through developing resilience?
Yeah, I think well, the coaching, I mean, there’s, there’s two sides of it, there’s sort of like the, the actual coaching, which I think anyone could benefit from being coached. I mean, I mean, coaching is, is just a way to support somebody like to sort of be there and be there kind of container for them, like, just hold space for them, and whatever, whatever they need at the time, whatever they’re working through. So I personally think anyone would benefit from coaching anyone who wants to do something with their life, or change anything in their life, right? So that’s the whole coaching piece. But sort of the things that you learn in, in it in both coaching programs, to be a good coach to listen,
to hear what people are saying in a different way, right, and to ask questions.
So it makes you think about things differently. And the whole metacognition, like thinking about our thoughts, for me was really interesting. And so trying to point out, when other people have, like, thoughts that serving them, well are beliefs that are holding on to these limiting beliefs. So that whole piece really was a, you know, new for me, and I find very interesting. And then the whole piece of resilience, like in terms of your sleep and nutrition, a lot of that stuff, I was kind of doing already on my own, but just kind of up leveling it even more. So just kind of learning all the science behind it. For my own personal use, and, you know, I can share it if it’s applicable to learn from coaching. Yeah.
So if someone’s saying, I want to develop more resilience and how I deal with the stressors in my own clinical practice, where would you encourage them to start?
Well, I think just saying that is the biggest step that’s needed. So just kind of acknowledging and asking for help is the most important step and that’s Step one, you know, you’ve already you’re already like, close to the finish line once you’ve already just asked for help. So I’d say that’s the biggest take home is just to sort of ask for help if you think you might need it. And then there’s a lot of, like resilience, there’s lots of different pieces that go into resilience, right? So really kind of looking at where you need a little bit more help in the whole, you know, the whole big picture of what what builds your resilience, so whether it’s sort of nutrition, sleep, you know, exercise or whether it’s sort of more your, your, like, the positive psychology stuff. So your attitude, your thoughts, your beliefs, you know, there’s there’s so many you know, who your social supports are. There’s, there’s so many different pieces to the puzzle. And it’s going to be different for everyone. But I’d say like, number one is sort of just ask for help or get help. And, you know, from there, it should be much easier. Yeah,
so once you’ve kind of identified with someone, what those first steps are, what do you see as some of those big limiting beliefs that may underlie even their ability to to get enough sleep to be able to prioritize exercise or nutrition? Is it just that people say they don’t have enough time? Or what are you? What are the things that you hear?
Yeah, time, like work like, like the balance, but yeah, it’s all a matter of time prioritizing time or like they’ve tried it before. It hasn’t work, that kind of thing. But I’d say yeah, time is a big one. For sure. Especially as physicians, right, have enough time.
What do you see as some of the big the big threats to physician wellness, why people need to develop this resilience, maybe some of the factors that are intrinsic to physicians, and maybe some that are more of the system in which many of us practice these days?
Yeah, I mean, I think the system is a big part of it. And I think a lot of the studies have shown that like, looking at physician burnout, that a lot of it is systemic, and the more like the system that needs to change, but there’s certainly like individual factors within each physician that can be worked on. And, and then that will sort of dictate how you respond to these systemic issues. So the systemic issues, yes, they need to be fixed. And there’s, you know, there’s, we won’t go into what all those are, but you can build your own resilience and, and ways of coping, so that you may not react in the same way to those, all those systemic issues. But, you know, trauma, we exhibitions, even as individuals, but like it, the penetrance is 100%. So we’re all carrying some trauma, and whether or not we realize it or not, and you know, we’re gonna get activated by certain things. And so just finding ways to recognize that and, and not get activated is really helpful. So,
just having that, that self compassion, so often in medicine, we’re about showing compassion and giving, giving, giving, but realizing that some of those things may remind us of prior traumas patients that have had just a really traumatic course that we’ve been intimately involved walking alongside them through some of their hardest times. And to realize that, that affects us, or just things that may have been ways of thinking, or, yeah, just how we experienced either being in medical school being in training. Just that served us then to get by that maybe now it’s still affecting us, and we don’t even realize it. I found that for myself in terms of like money scarcity, or just thinking that I had to be doing something or that I was, if I was sitting and doing nothing, that that that wasn’t okay. It’s like the intentional rest, when there’s so much activity and it’s like, well, you should be studying for boards or for your shelf exam or something else. And yet, that intentional rest and self care can really be part of some of those things you mentioned for for resilience.
Yeah. So where do you see physicians, maybe that are coming out of training now versus when you finished training? What do you see as some of the differences and how they go about some of these things that go into resilience? Do you think there’s a difference? Or?
Well, I, I do, I’m part of the faculty. So I do teach some of the medical students and I know they get a, they get way more than we get, because we got nothing. So they do get a little bit more just even in their modules and stuff. You know, learning about what, you know, even, for example, exercise and nutrition, like we didn’t have anything on any kind of training on that, and they are learning a little bit about it. So I think they’re getting a bit more and maybe a little bit more aware of how important that is.
Do you think some of the faculty are then getting some of that from their interactions with their trainees? Or is that something that maybe is negatively affecting, say, the senior attendings that? Maybe there’s a there’s a gap? I don’t know,
it’s hard to say, I think part of it is the science. So the science is there now. So maybe it’s just more acceptable? And and I think, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of push to bring that kind of training to the medical students. And, yeah, I think they’ve seen what’s happened to a lot of physicians, and to bring that awareness to the new, you know, the new students, so maybe they’ll have a little bit more tools and resources, that doesn’t happen to them. I could say,
yeah. So if you had to leave our listeners today, with one piece of advice that you’d have for someone that’s wanting to improve their resilience? What would you tell them?
Well, I think, as I said before, just ask for help, or, you know, reach out to somebody. You know, there’s lots of great coaches out there, there’s lots of resources. You know, most institutions have some sort of wellness committee, there might be some, you know, some free resources within, you know, your own institution. But, you know, so that might be a good start, but certainly just know, if you find someone that you feel like you connect with, who’s a coach or who, you know, is in the wellness community, that would be a good first step.
Thanks for that. So if if someone wants to learn more about you how to work with you, where might they be able to find you?
Yeah, thanks for asking. Well, I am on Instagram, and I’m on LinkedIn and Facebook, McHale, steagle md.com. And I also have a website, www. McHale, steagle md.com.
Wonderful. And I’ll pass along a link, you have a free guide to help improve your sleep. And they do that’s right. And I’ll put the link in the show notes or description.
Thank you so much. It’s been so great to be here.
Thanks so much for joining us. Hi. So, for all of you listening, I want you to consider how you can apply what you’ve learned from Dr. Siegel, in today’s discussion, and then please share this podcast with another doctor in your life and, and subscribe, leave us a review. And that really helps get the word out there so that each of the physicians out there, and other medical professionals that need to hear these messages can really take that opportunity to hear, to pause and reflect and to grow. You can help change the culture of medicine and promote wellness for your patients, your colleagues, and yourself. Thank you so much for all that you do.
And have a great day that thank you.
And now for our important disclaimer. Dr. Ryan Stegink is a practicing general pediatrician. But the MedEdWell podcast does not reflect the views, opinions or beliefs of his employer, nor is affiliated University. Additionally, the MedEdWell podcast is for educational and entertainment purposes only and should not be considered advice regarding financial, legal student loan, medical or any other specific topic. In such a case, you should seek consultation with a certified professional in that particular area. Again, thanks for joining us on the MedEdWell PA Test Have a great day