Although medical experts want to provide the best advice possible, sometimes it can be difficult for patients to decode complicated medical content.
You need an expert who will cut through the weeds and focus on bringing you up-to-date information that is clinically accurate so that you can feel confident in making decisions for your child.
Join the conversation with Dr. Evka Cesnek as we discuss how unanswered questions as a physician and parent can shape your life.
If you are a physician who feels like you can’t be fully present at home because in the back of your mind, you are thinking about your remaining charts, join me for a free webinar “Reclaim your purpose while charting”. Get encouraged and challenged about how you can live in alignment with your priorities, not wondering if you can go out to dinner or have family movie night.
“Reclaim your purpose while charting will be happening on August 3 and August 4”, please sign up to join me at mededwell.com/purpose
During this episode, you will learn about;
[00:00] Introduction to the show
[01:44] A bit about our guest today, Dr. Evka Cesnek
[03:17] Dr. Evka’s journey in medicine, opportunities, and challenges she has encountered
[07:30] The humanity of medicine
[08:27] Dr. Evka’s journey as a parent through the medical system
[12:03] Challenges she experienced from medical specialists who were attending to her kid
[15:20] How the experiences affected her clinical practice and interaction with patients
[24:31] Mindset and approaches in life that she gives to young physicians in training
[26:54] Take away tips for you in this episode
[28:19] How you can reach out and connect with Dr. Evka Cesnek
[29:00] Ending the show and call to action
- Health is important to us no matter who we are because illness doesn’t discriminate, whether rich or poor. It is our common equalizer.
- You need to approach patients with love, acceptance, and understanding because what you say to patients matters a lot.
- No matter how long and hard you work on your calling, you will never feel exhausted and drained of energy.
- Those moments when we face challenges in life, we need to create meaning out of them.
- Real-life experiences expose just how much you do not know.
Do you want to get home sooner from the clinic or hospital? With all your notes and charting done, too? Get your FREE PDF guide with 10 tips to maximize your clinical efficiency! https://www.mededwell.com/efficiencyguide/
Connect with Us
Dr. Ryan Stegink
Get Coaching with Dr. Stegink: https://www.mededwell.com/coaching
Dr. Evka Cesnek
Dr. Evka’s Books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Eva-Cesnek-M.D./e/B07DPBJXK1
Above are the episode show notes and below is the transcript via www.temi.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!
Dr. Ryan Stegink (00:01):
Does charting in medicine seem overwhelming the queue of messages, labs, patient calls that never seems to get smaller. The pile of preauthorizations awaiting your input, the tens or hundreds of charts that you still have to finish and sign it’s exhausting, right? And still all you want is to be able to go home with your work done, to be able to spend time with family, hang out with friends, practice, self care. I want to invite you to join me for a six week long coaching program, charting mastery, where you will get equipped with the skills and approach that you need to get home sooner and leave that work at work, to check out more info and to join the wait list, head over to charting mastery.net. You will be among the first to hear when the door is open so that you can join me on this journey.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (01:12):
There will be opportunities to reflect and earn CME after the different sessions as well. And now onto today’s show. Welcome to the MedEdWell podcast, empowering physicians to get work done at work, and 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. Welcome to another episode of the mededWell podcast. Thank you so much for joining me for listening, for sharing and for really engaging as we each try and take that next step in our wellness today on the podcast, I’d like to welcome Dr. Evka Cesnek a family physician, medical doctor, online course creator, bestselling author and podcast host. She is a thought leader on topics with which she has had both personal and professional experience. She does worldwide consults on food allergies, pediatric feeding challenges and babies with colic. Her goal is to empower young parents with a sense of control and strategy that removes some of the overwhelm. Welcome to the show.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (02:37):
Yay. Well, I am, it’s such an honor to be on your show. Thank you very much for having me. I know you in non podcast non-video world as well, and you’re, you’re such a important person in the field of pediatrics and children and helping those physicians, their journeys. It’s an honor to have to be on your podcast. Thank you.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (03:04):
Well, thanks so much for joining me. Tell me a little bit about your journey through the medical system and through training and how maybe you’ve seen wellness and certain challenges come up for you.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (03:17):
Oh, oh, absolutely. Gosh. So I actually am an immigrant to this country. So we escaped communism when I was young and we lived for a little bit in the refugee camp in Italy, after crossing the mountains in the middle of the night and to freedom, which was fun in refugee camp was kind of hard too. And then eventually we wanted a lottery system that allowed us to come here to United States. And I was young as a child at the time. And we, we settled in New Jersey and my mom cleaned houses. And my parents always told me to work hard and to study hard and to try and make a name for myself once or to do something because now we are here. We are here in this land of opportunity, we’re in the United States. And so we have to take advantage of that because look how much we have to sacrifice just to be able to get here.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (04:15):
And so we have to take advantage of that. And the motto always is, and I probably see this in a lot of immigrant families, you work hard, you study hard, you work hard, you study hard, you find the dream and you go after that dream. And for me, that dream took me into wanting to be a physician and wanting to go into medicine. Because if you look at it like there’s people who get really sick, doesn’t discriminate. That doesn’t matter if you are somebody who makes $7 an hour, or if you’re somebody who makes millions illness, doesn’t discriminate and lots of people, regardless of how much money they have would give a lot just healthy or to healthy. And so me health is incredibly important to us, no matter who we are and what a great privilege it is to be able to help people with their health and what a great privilege it is to be able to hear stories from people regardless of who they are about their lives, about their health.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (05:29):
And then you can go ahead and you can help them. So I went to medical school in New Jersey and did a combined program with MD MPH, SOGA, masters in epidemiology and biostatistics. And from there, I went into a family medicine program and they like family medicine just because when you’re doing family medicine, you see everybody, you get the full spectrum, you can help deliver babies. You get to see the babies get to, as you spend more time in one office setting, then you get to see those babies grow up. You get to see parents, grandparents it’s it’s. And so you get the whole spectrum and you can help people and with family, and you can learn a little about a lot of things, or you can really focus down on one thing. And when I finished my residency program, I worked a lot. So I did three jobs. At one point I did house calls. I did helped run an urgent care center and a so saw patients in the office, but nothing prepared me for, for the journey that I had with trying to help patients and help change medicine once my child was born.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (06:45):
That’s really go ahead. Yeah. I was just gonna say that was really inspiring. Thanks for sharing about your journey. Yeah, just through life and through medical school and then bringing all of that. And I think that’s one of the really encouraging parts about just the humanity, the humanism and medicine of like connecting with other humans and their story and saying, yeah, I’ve had this experience and that’s how I’m able to yeah. Just connect with you as a human being, because I have my own story and you have yours, and this is how they intersect in this moment when you’re just caring about helping them with their health. So tell me a little bit more about,
Dr. Evka Cesnek (07:30):
Would you say to patients can matter, it can make a big difference. And so if you approach them with love and you approach them with understanding and acceptance and you really listen to them, you can make a big impact from their lives, not just with necessarily diagnosing them, but also like just saying, I understand where you’re coming from. I get you, I understand what this journey’s like, and here’s what I can do to kinda help you to make life your life a little bit easier. So, and I, I know this, that, like, I know this myself, like really understanding what people were going through when I had my own challenges in my life. And then I had to figure out a way to turn those challenges into a way to not just help myself, but also help other people. So I wanted to tell you a little bit about my journey as a parent through the medical system.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (08:29):
Because when I worked a lot, I enjoyed medicine. Didn’t really feel burned out. Even though I was working a ton of hours, it was just, it was my calling. And so I wanted to, and it was supposed to be really joyous time in my life because I had the birth of my baby, my precious, loving baby. It was supposed to be full of light and joy. And I was so wonder her so so much. And when she was born, she had challenges, challenges that like, I, maybe I heard my patients talk about a little bit, but not to the extent that I experienced them as, as a mom, who’s, who’s caring for your child a lot. So my daughter cried that cried and cried and cried that she had. Well, describe as a pretty severe case of colic, but she also vomited a lot. She, she also had a lot of feeding challenges.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (09:34):
She would turn away from the breast. She would turn away from the bottle. If she sucked, the sucking would take a long time. And she was dropping percentiles on the weight curve. And I was worried about what was going on with her because of the challenges that we had and the vomiting and the changes and stills. And it’s hard to forget those things, those moments in your life, but when you face challenges like that, they stay with you and they stay with you for a long time. And then you have to create meaning out of them because you have these challenges and like, what do you do? How do you proceed with your life as a physician, making those hard moments in your life, whole own life count, and how can they be used to help others and going through the medical system as a physician, the other thing that kind of happens to you, especially if you’re somebody who’s had seen children and I saw children for like a decade, you understand how much of the medical system we don’t know yet, or how much of medicine we don’t know yet. You’ve you, you come face to face with the, with the boundaries of modern Edison and realize how much there is still to know AB about in topics. And as a parent, when you’re dealing with significant concerns in your child, like the ability to feed, because feeding equals living, right. It’s really important. And you come to the boundaries of what we think we understand the medicine, like, what do you do? Because it’s stressful.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (11:36):
I was just gonna say, yeah. How was that navigating, both working with specialists to care for your child. And yet knowing that there were boundaries and maybe knowing that it’s like, okay, this isn’t normal for my child to be doing this. How did you reconcile all that? Or did you feel like you had different challenges navigating the medical system, being a physician parent?
Dr. Evka Cesnek (12:03):
I think so. I think, and there’s, there’s a whole bunch of ways that that manifests itself one way is like, do you even mention that you’re a physician to doctors? And at one point I finally did, and I said, you be a physician. Will they? How will they treat you differently? What else happen? The second thing is that you get a lot from specialist, a specialist. So your child that is a dropping off the G weight group, they’re, they’re having significant challenges, feeding. They’re taking a really long time to suck. They are getting to the point where they’re only feeding in their sleep there’s conversations about things like feeding tubes. And so this is outside of what you might normally see in a family medicine office or in a pediatrician’s office. So then, then you go to the specialist because that’s why they send you to, they send you the specialists.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (13:07):
And the specialists may be, you know, appointments far away, because everybody wants to see the specialists, but eventually make them right. Eventually get to the specialists. Or you might have to give up at like 4:00 AM to like, for us to drive all the way in New York city, to be able to see a specialist and you get there and you ask them questions, because you’re thinking this through and you’re reading the medical literature. And you’re like, like, what can I help? Like how what’s going on? How can we get answers from my child? And I want those answers right away. I want my daughter to start feeding and feeling better and no longer vomiting, having all these symptoms like right away. And you go and you ask some questions. And they were like, well, we don’t know, oh, there isn’t testing. Or we just haven’t encountered this before.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (13:55):
Or this is unusual. Let me send you to another specialist. And you may, and so then you make another appointment and you go see another specialist. And that specialist made you the same thing to you again and say, well, this isn’t quite what we normally deal with either. Or it’s not something that, that, or you, they give you some answers. But as a parent, you have anxiety, you have worry and you want things to be better. And some like feeding, for instance, feeding challenges can take a long time to improve. It might not be overnight. And, and so you want answers. You might not get them. You might be sent from specialists to specialists. And then you start to figure out that there’s certain fields of medicine where I feel like there should be a subspecialty. And there isn’t like, for instance, the field of pediatric feeding disorders. I think there’s a lot of children who really have significant feeding challenges. There should be pediatricians or family physicians. So that’s what their focus is because there’s so much to it and they don’t really exist. Right. It’s not exactly pediatric gastroenterology is not exactly pediatric allergy mm-hmm .
Dr. Ryan Stegink (15:11):
So how did that experience of bouncing back and forth between all these specialists? How did that affect your own clinical practice and how you approached your own patients?
Dr. Evka Cesnek (15:21):
Oh, lots of to discuss there. First of all, I think because I were working so much and because I had spent like 12 years of my life trying to become a physician, right. All the training and especially the MD MPH, like, and you do the residencies 12 years and, and you work so hard just working on becoming a physician that becomes such a large part of your identity. And then you wind up in a situation where your child needs you. And at one point we were had to go to feeding therapists, or we had to see specialists, and this can take up a significant amount of your time. So we were doing feeding therapy most of the week, trying to help with the situation. And it required so much of my, my own time, because there was nobody else who was willing to do my, the parenting thing for me, like I had to do it.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (16:16):
Right. And so I let go of certain jobs. I let go of my job as a, an urgent care. I let go of my family medicine job. And I just focus on house calls so that I could get more time to do this. But then I realized like that, yes, maybe what I’m working on right now has changed the, but look, what else I can do. Maybe this difficulty can turn into an opportunity. So I went and I got trained in various modes of feeding therapy, for instance, and started learning how to do it, not just to be able to use it on my own child, but also to be able to help other families with it. So I got extra training and it’s really cool. When you are a physician, there are training programs that are available to you that might not be available to the average parent, but just because they have a medical background, you have a physician, they like you into this programs.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (17:21):
So that was, that was really good. And then I realized that if there’s a field, like, I feel like should exist like this pediatric disorders field. Why and why not start writing the books to make it a reality? Why not start writing the books to help other families going through the thing that you’re going through. Right. But so small. So my first book was my daughter wound up being diagnosed with Fs or type of non IgE media food allergy. And when she was diagnosed, like the diagnosis code was there, but the guidelines of how to treat it didn’t exist yet because it was considered a new entity. So like, what do you do? You read the literature, you figure it out. And then you write the book and the book helps you and it helps other families or co right. So my baby cried and cried, then cried then CRI what is there that we need to know about co? So right now I just have a 300 page book that’s out there about co I through all the literature. And I thought about my own experience, treating patients with colic in the office as a physician, who’s been working for a decade. So writing books about that is another book that’s coming out about pediatric feeding disorders and have treat children who really have challenges with feeding and their babies.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (18:41):
Wow. That’s amazing. Just to say how you took this really hard season in caring for your child and then said, Hey, I’m a physician. I can learn new things I can apply and pivot, and then be able to write these books and to be able to say, no, I’m still helping patients and families. And it may just look a little bit different in this season of your career, but it’s, it seems like you are just so passionate about it. It’s really inspiring.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (19:21):
Thank you so much. It’s realizing that there’s areas of medicine that still need work. And you, I think you realize it more when you’re the parent who’s going through it when you are dealing with it, you and you, you have that medical background and you know, where the boundaries of what we’re able to offer people are, then you can think, well, what else do they need to know? And how can I help? And then you can take what you learned through other training programs like speech, language pathologists, for instance, my or some occupational therapists might take giving training programs specifically for children. Well, I can take those too. And I have a different perspective on that than, than, than they do, just because of my medical background. And then use that to not only help myself, but help other families so that in the future, other families who are going through something similar, don’t have to have as much of a struggle because that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s how things happen. We figure out where the changes need to be made. And then we go ahead as physicians, because we have a duty to society to help. Right. And to, and to help figure it out.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (20:42):
Mm-Hmm well, that’s why so many of us went into medicine was to help people. And so, yeah, saying there’s the ways we’ve classically been taught in those categories for helping, but yeah, there’s so much more when it’s, oh, my child has this and they need this, this and this. And it’s not the same as classical presentation of it. It’s like, oh, if the specialist thinks that it’s unusual, that’s usually yeah. Pushing boundaries that haven’t been explored before. And it doesn’t mean that it’s doesn’t, it’s not real or that it’s not treatable. It’s just saying we are still learning about it. And I think it takes people with that curiosity and that drive to learn, to push those boundaries. That’ll really help us continue to move forward.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (21:34):
Right? This families dealing with conditions that worry them about their children, who they care about so much often are the ones who are at the forefront of helping to make the changes that, that, that help propelled medicine forward progeria, right? Progeria. They now have where, where you age at a really accelerated rate. And a lot of these children die young because they aged so quickly. It was the work of physicians who had a child with it that help to propel that condition forward. They help with the discovery of the gene for that condition. And then they also helped to figure out treatments for it through gene therapy to, to help really increase the lifespan of these children. And so with what I went through, my hope is that it wasn’t in vain. Like it was, it was real. It happened then now let’s make the changes in medicine.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (22:44):
So that it’s easier for other families because when you are a family physician or a pediatrician, there’s certain conditions that I even necessarily say that that they’re rare, but like there’s children who have severe feeding challenges and we might not know what to do with them, but we should, or children with F pies for protein de center, coly syndrome, or, or these more severe non IgE media allergies. Like when my daughter first had it. And I tried to discuss that with other physicians, they were like, well, initially, what is this? Because it, I think now there’s much more knowledge, but when, when this happened years and years ago, it, it wasn’t that much at the forefront of what we were learning about in medicine. And so we need to become more educated as, as doctors ourselves. But I like the idea of writing books, because when you’re writing books, you can write much more than you can talk to somebody doing a short medical visit
Dr. Ryan Stegink (23:48):
When it just becomes that resource that multiplies your impact. So being able to take that, you’re
Dr. Evka Cesnek (23:55):
Gonna have more of an impact than people who can otherwise afford, afford medical care.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (24:00):
It’s amazing. So if you were talking to physician who is newly out of training or earlier in their career and trying to figure out how do I really make an impact in medicine for the future, for my patients, everyone’s journey will look different, but what kind of mindset or approaches to life intentionality priorities, how would you encourage them to think about, okay, where do they need to broaden their perspective a little bit?
Dr. Evka Cesnek (24:31):
I think that as PHY, because we’re talking about physicians here we are, we have incredible, we are so privileged, right? We are so privileged that we get to learn so much about the human body. We, and we have our patients who share things with us that they might not share with anybody else. And because they want our health and they want our guidance. So there’s incredible privilege and be able to have that kind of an impact in others. And then with that comes incredible responsibility. And that responsibility includes believing them and understanding them and having empathy towards them. And sometimes say, you know what? I don’t have the answers, but let me see where, how I can get the answers for you. And that might be sending them to a specialist. It might be sending them to an article. It might be sending them to somewhere where they have, there’s a support group, because sometimes the, depending upon what you’re, where you’re dealing with, if, if, if you’re dealing with a family that you’re you’re deposition for, and they have a condition that you know is not that common, sometimes one of the best places you can get information, some of your information, you still have to rely on the physicians because sometimes the information in these support groups is not the most, mostly medically accurate, but one of the good places you can get information is in support groups, find the support groups, go in there, talk amongst yourselves, talk about families and encourage that.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (26:12):
I think that what’s really cool about medicine. It’s it can, it’s such an integral part of all of our lives, no matter what specialty you go into, you’re always going to be health is important for everybody. It’s, it’s, it’s like music. Like everybody listens to music and it doesn’t matter what language you speak. You’re gonna have a similar music experience with health. It doesn’t matter what else you do. We all value health, and we all can have conversations about it. And we can all find commonality in her shared health experiences.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (26:53):
Hmm. That’s a great word. That common humanity. And just saying there will be different expressions, whether it’s different family background, different cultural background, but it’s like, yeah, we want our kids, our family members to do well and to be healthy. And so how can we yeah. Come alongside and support them. It’s really just a good reminder in the midst of sometimes the busyness of medical practice to say, how can we leverage those relationships, those support groups, those other community resources to say you are a whole person, these are the real experiences you’re having, but we are still learning. And if we embrace that, I think it encourages families to say, oh, I can bring up that other symptom because they’re actually gonna listen to me.
Dr. Evka Cesnek (27:50):
Yeah, listen. And they’re gonna try to understand, and they’re gonna have to have empathy towards this. Now. I think we have to approach others with, with love.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (27:59):
Well, thanks so much for joining me here on the meed well podcast. If there’s a physician or a parent that might be listening today and wants to find more about, find out more about you, your work, how they might be able to work with you, or that you might be able to help them with your book or otherwise books, where can they find out more?
Dr. Evka Cesnek (28:19):
Oh gosh. So I just revamped my website. EFCA md.com. I’m on Instagram as FCA MD. I have a podcast, the Dr. EFCA show. I do see patients in New Jersey. And so I’m back to seeing patients more regularly. My daughter’s doing just fine journey. But’s better, so much better. Mm. And now I’m at the place where I just, I wanna give back, not just through books, through courses and through actual seeing patients, the best place to get all this information, Amazon, Eva, test MD, and just go md.com. And from there there’s links to everything.
Dr. Ryan Stegink (29:00):
Well, I’ll make sure those are in the show notes, but I just wanted to thank you for your time and your generosity, sharing your story. And I hope this has been inspiring to those listening. And I want to encourage all of you to subscribe to this podcast and share this episode with another doctor in your life. You may just be a part of encouraging and supporting someone in a really challenging season of life. And I’m so thankful to be able to foster some of these conversations and provide these opportunities to other physicians like you. Thanks so much for all you do to care for others. I look forward to having you join me on the next episode and have a great day. And now for our important disclaimer, Dr. Ryan Stegen is a practicing general pediatrician, but the MedEd well podcast does not reflective views, opinions or belief of his employer nor his affiliated university. Additionally, the MedEd well 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 see consultation with certified professional in that particular area. Again, thanks for joining us on the MedEd well podcast and have a great day.