Episode 7: Prioritizing Well-being in Healthcare

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In this episode of the Transforming Healthcare Coaching Podcast, host Lillian Liang Emlet and Klaus Grim, an experienced emergency medicine and urgent care physician assistant, discuss the critical topic of well-being in the healthcare sector. They delve into practical strategies for clinicians to manage stress and prevent burnout, highlighting the importance of self-care and the power of coaching. Klaus shares insights from his experience working with healthcare professionals and emphasizes the need for leaders to model well-being practices. Tune in for valuable advice on maintaining balance and achieving sustainable happiness in the demanding field of healthcare.

Lillian: Welcome to the Transforming Healthcare Coaching podcast, where we bring you guidance and coaching perspectives so that you can level up in your life and work.

 Hi everybody. In this ever evolving world of healthcare, we understand the challenges and opportunities that clinicians and leaders face, and our goal is to provide you with valuable insights, expert interviews, and practical advice to empower you on your path to success.

At Transforming Healthcare Coaching, we believe that everyone in healthcare deserves a coach and together we can transform healthcare one person at a time. My name is Lillian Liang Emlet, the Founder and CEO and our coaches, our team of coaches are from many disciplines. They’re all trained in energy leadership coaching that helps clinicians in healthcare with a wide variety of things, including well being, performance, career transitions, executive leadership, and team and group coaching.

And all are available for 1 on 1 coaching, and I’ll go ahead and let Klaus, our speaker today introduce himself.

Klaus Grim: Thanks Lilly. Hello everyone. I’m Klaus Grim and I’m excited to be here with all of you today a little background about me is that I’ve been working as a emergency medicine and urgent care physician assistant in the Boston area.

Alongside my clinical practice, I have the privilege of serving as a lead preceptor for Tufts University P. A. students, and I get to really help guide the next generation of healthcare professionals. I believe in the power of forever learning, in finding harmony between our personal and professional lives.

As healthcare workers, we carry immense responsibilities, and I believe it’s essential to care for ourselves along the way. So during challenging times, I actually partnered with a coach, and it became my guiding light. And being coached allowed me to refocus my energy and what truly matters to me and begin taking meaningful steps towards my life goals.

So I thoroughly enjoy extending this opportunity to my fellow healthcare workers. I’m dedicated to helping my clients realize their complete potential and transform into the best version of themselves.

Lillian: Awesome. So our topic today is prioritizing well being in healthcare. And before we went live we both were commiserating about how challenging it might be in healthcare.

And sometimes actually in some groups, well being actually is talked about, but not really role modeled in some groups. And that’s mainly because of scheduling demands and the lack of resources, whether it be a nursing, physician assistant, physicians. I’m curious, what are your thoughts and perspectives on how individual clinicians can find any kind of well being in spite of the current healthcare climate of our staffing shortages?

Klaus Grim: Yeah, I think you hit on it just right there, Lilly. It’s becoming much more difficult to have that conversation regarding well being when there’s not even time, to even go to the bathroom half the time. Really in my experience, I think it’s there’s different approaches I’ve seen some of my health care colleagues take this. Some have begun implementing breaks into their shifts. As a PA in the ER, we don’t get scheduled breaks. There’s no such thing as a lunch or dinner break. It’s more eat as you go and when you can. And same thing with using the restrooms, as I just talked about.

It’s a little unfortunate, but it’s how we function to attend to sick patients when there’s limited staff. I think this also goes for a lot of different specialties. I’m sure you can relate as you’re practicing critical care, Lilly. But, some of the strategies I think I’ve seen people take are like five minute breaks for themselves. So I see some of my colleagues go for a walk to the cafeteria.

They’ll just, let me know or another clinician know about some of their patients, as long as they’re not critical. Just in case something happens while they’re on their break, which rarely happens. Or I see them go outside, get some fresh air, sometimes even make a phone call to a loved one.

And though these seem like rather basic or small activities, I’ve seen these tasks really recharge a colleague and equip them to handle the day with more energy. And like I said, medicine is so fast paced and I find it to be so important to be self aware of your daily work and really understand your personal limits.

In my mind, I try and set up at least two five minute breaks during a shift when I find that spare time, and I try and get some fresh air, and then I just try and center myself to a more calm and peaceful state , with some breathing exercises and try and free myself from that high adrenaline.

Lillian: I love that. That’s such a great point. I think we’re lucky in the Emergency Department, you can just go out to the ambulance bay and just take a second and hide, aside from the video cameras that are back there. Just take a second hide in the ambulance bay just be by yourself for a second. In we’re lucky in our building that we actually have these little break rooms with massage chairs, and I saw, I know some other groups have stuck it in like their conference room for exactly what you’re talking about, and hopefully managers are pointing towards those and sending out blast emails and reminding people that it’s totally okay to take those five minutes, because really honestly, Five minutes is not that much time.

And I think you bring up a really good point that it’s really about the individual recognizing. And I think that’s a huge piece that a lot of us don’t want to admit that we don’t recognize when we’re tapped out. We just continue to push on and push on because that’s always been the badge of, courage that we’ve been told to to embody.

Have you seen anything in your teams that actually help people– any strategies that either groups or teams or certain shifts– actually tell people to actually capitalize on that to change the culture?

Klaus Grim: Yeah. I think more of the strategies that I see take place are actually done by nurses, which, to be honest with you, I think need it more than a lot of us clinicians half the time. And a lot of the times, the management tries to get them to take those breaks.

When they check into their shifts, and when they check out, it says, did you take your 30 minute break? And I would say 95% of them say no, I did not take my 30 minute break. But what they’re trying to incentivize is for you to take that 30 minute break for yourself to actually have lunch, and really just, like I said, recharge yourself and free yourself in some of that stress that is building up from that long shift work. But otherwise I, I really haven’t seen too many policies implemented to really address this.

Lillian: What you suggest though is a really important first step, is the fact that managers, whenever they are on the daylight shifts I think it’s a little bit harder on night shifts.

We all run nights pretty lean in general, but especially for those who are circulating through, if you’re in any kind of non clinical roles, to be like, look go do it. I just want to see our AODs or our administrators coming through. It’s just go, just I’ll be here.

Really for leadership to step in and say it’s okay. It’s funny how we all need permission from each other to actually say it’s okay to go take five minutes for yourself. And then the other thing I thought was really fascinating what you pointed out was the fact that they’re beginning to monitor right to begin to monitor and track and even though the answer is no currently right now.

Hopefully a year or two from now, it’s going to be different. It’s actually going to be 50, 50, or maybe the other way around that. Yes, I did take my five minute break or my 30 minute break because it’s a metric by which the managers are actually going to be measured by. There’s a saying that I would say that if you don’t measure it, you don’t really know what you’re really doing.

It’s why everybody’s addicted to those Fitbit, the watches. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know what you’re doing. And I think it’s really important that we do help healthcare leaders remind themselves that it’s not just about our CLABSIs or infections or our paperwork discharge being done correctly.

It’s also about making sure our clinicians and all of our team members are finding five minutes for themselves.

Klaus Grim: Yeah, a hundred percent. And it even has me thinking, from, we have a lot of newer graduate PAs that we train and the times that I see them take these breaks is when they reach their the bottom they’ve hit ultimate judgment, and they are stressed beyond means .

And why not prevent this? Why be reactive when we can be proactive? It’s what I’m hearing from you, and I totally agree with this message.

Lillian: Yeah, so I’m curious, what strategies are common that you, when you work with your clients as they search for their own well being?

What kinds of things do you discuss with your clients?

Klaus Grim: Yeah, I think that’s the beauty of what we do as coaches is that everything we work on with our clients is completely unique to each individual. We just create these like personalized tailored roadmaps towards well being for them. In their life, and it all depends on their life experiences, their environments, and really just their ultimate goals in life.

It’s very interesting. One question I typically ask my clients is, what does well being mean to you? And you’d be so surprised that it means something completely different for everyone. And the dictionary definition means absolutely nothing. It’s my clients coming up with the answer themselves and saying it out loud is what motivates them to actually begin creating these achievable goals and taking those steps to the well being that they desire.

So I’ll tell you a common theme that I think I work on with my clients is releasing this destructive energy that follows many of my clients home from work and healthcare. For some, that is naming the burnout they are experiencing, and providing a definition to it. And once we’ve established and released that energy that this burnout has created, I think that’s when the fun work begins.

We get to really focus on what truly matters in life to , each of my clients, and that’s both personally and professionally. And then we get to take these meaningful steps towards this well being definition that they created and find ways for this well being just to be easily achievable when things just may not be going the way they wanted to and for it to be sustainable as time goes by.

And I think that is what working with a coach is all about is just finding the way that is unique for each client to achieve sustainable daily happiness and success.

Lillian: Yeah, I think you also encapsulated something that we all are aware of with all of our coaching practices: is that it only begins with awareness, acknowledgement, and ownership of where we are right now.

And then it’s funny how often even those of us who are in tune with our own selves or our own situation often don’t take the real pause to really gain greater consciousness of where we currently are, because only when we are seen and heard and validated for where we currently are without our own self judgment, our own self stories or other people’s judgments upon us can be moved forward, which is why I do think that it’s really hard for many people in health care to actually find a coach or seek well being.

It’s not easy to actually. become aware. And so I really love how, the very first step is just taking pause, taking stock and really finding out and validating where your clients currently are and naming, if it is burnout.

Klaus Grim: Yeah. And I think you just said it: is that we all have a story to tell and I find a common theme there is that a lot of health care workers don’t feel that they have a story to tell– that they don’t find their situations to be that different from other people because you just hear on the news and, you see it in your colleagues. You see it on Tik Tok, all the things that, this fragile health care system is putting on the shoulders of health care workers and oftentimes changes. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. But yeah, you have, we have to tailor things back into us and find ways to find the well being in our own life and just grow.

Lillian: Yeah, I think it’s really interesting, your point of hearing the stories on the news versus in print or in video and also is very relatable to every group and every person across the country, no matter what level of healthcare that you’re practicing.

I think it’s interesting that people don’t think that their story matters. And yet, our stories are everything, right? Our patients stories are everything, our personal journeys are everything, and for some reason, we feel like we have to squelch it to be able to be the best version of ourselves inside this particular group that we happen to choose employment with at this particular day and time, and yet, That’s not actually even bringing half of our whole selves to work so that you actually could shine and be the all that you are.

It’s interesting how much of the process and the organization can sometimes stifle people. So I guess in terms of that, what advice can we give leaders who actually lead these healthcare groups and employees to actually promote wellbeing and to be able to bring their true authentic version of themselves to their organization and actually make the organization stronger?

Klaus Grim: Yeah, I think the first thing I can think of is this phrase, “Walk the talk.” If you’re a leader in any position, those below you are looking up to you, and if you aren’t leading by example, your colleagues likely aren’t going to follow. I would encourage, leaders, similarly to what I was just mentioning, is discover what being means to you, and start to take meaningful steps towards achieving it.

What better way to walk the talk? And promote well being in your organization, then by embodying well being yourself and your well being experiences, how you achieved it, and the radiant energy that being I feel that unleashes will attract those around you to feel the same way. Lilly, you can probably relate to, we have a phrase from IPEC that we learned and has followed me since, and it’s energy attracts like energy.

Lillian: Yeah, I totally agree. And at first I was skeptical in the beginning, and then I started to realize, oh no, it’s actually quite true, right? Because in any group, we recognize in a meeting that all it takes is one person to stem the tide of potentially negative spiraling.

And one person can actually change that because it actually doesn’t allow the group to go into completely the abyss. I think we saw it definitely in the pandemic. There’s got to be someone who actually doesn’t allow us to go to a place where there is no hope because at some point, we all rose up together.

And I think it’s really also interesting because I’m the wellness chief officer for our for our fellows for our next generation trainees, just like you. I also do a lot of teaching roles in my academic job. And it’s funny. I was really nervous and anxious when I first started in that role and it’s been a process of like you said walking the talk, how can I actually do anything in this kind of curriculum that’s required if I don’t actually walk the talk myself and so it’s been a quite an interesting journey the last five or six years for me to begin to try to do that and learn from my fellows to learn from people who actually are able to do things for their own well being and share.

So I do think the easiest tip is also sharing walking the talk and sharing that you are walking the talk.

Klaus Grim: Yeah, exactly. And I think a lot of healthcare workers have humility, and vulnerability, I find these to be very important characteristics of a health care worker in general clinician or not. And that is that you are open to learn, open to grow.

And being able to say: hey, in order for me to teach you, I need to embody it first. How many times, in your maybe when you’re a med student where maybe in primary care or whatnot, when you’re you’re telling somebody to eat better, eating less fast food, exercise more, and then you’re not doing it yourself.

You’re not going to get as much rapport from your patient and expect them to do some of the things that you’re saying when you’re not showing that, that vision, that image to them as well.

Lillian: Yeah, that was definitely so true. So true. Makes you definitely take check and not call the kettle black themselves.

And so I guess for my last question that I’m wondering, so how do you actually fill your cup so that you stay well for others, for your patients as a coach, we often have to hold space for a lot of hard things: as a partner, as a friend, as a person, how do you fill your cup?

Klaus Grim: What I would say is that my work as a coach actually, fuels a lot of my own growth and learning. My clients practice so many things on their way to their own vitality that it gets me trying new things for myself. I just, I love learning and I love adapting to find as many things as possible that really make me happy and well.

And for me to consistently work towards, making well being sustainable and long lasting. One thing that I do way more now, and what has been transformative in my life, has been setting boundaries with my clinical work. I fortunately don’t have to be on call, so I can see this being a challenge for some of my other healthcare colleagues out there, but I found a lot of my stressors at work were following me home.

And. I created a lot of techniques in my life to free myself from these stressors and just live better. And I think some of the things that I started doing again more of is: I prioritize self care. I really: I cook much more, and I feed myself good food. I’m way more consistent with physical exercise.

I have a strong support network of friends, colleagues, and family that I’m constantly communicating with. I’m more present with my dogs at my house, and I’m finding new activities and hobbies to enjoy daily. And then trying to implement these new techniques for personal professional growth daily.

It’s challenging, but it’s exciting to be part of this journey.

Lillian: Yeah, I love that. For me, it really came out in the pandemic, to be able to deal with that degree of high intensity presence and being as calm and as able to handle opening the COVID unit several times. I took a page from what my fellows were telling me actually, which is Exercise and Peloton.

So I actually worked out for two hours a day, every day in the pandemic with yoga. So obviously half of it not quite so strenuous and the other half being on the bike. So really just being really proud of the fact that I actually was able to do that because I was never an athlete before any of this in the pandemic.

That was what, three years ago. And it’s still stuck with me. I am a Peloton junkie and addict now. And I think the other thing as well is. Like you said, the learning, I think that’s probably why I went to coaching school in the pandemic too. It’s just so fun to just be learning, inhaling all these things.

And ever since I graduated, now it’s been learning business. And so learning all these creative things that you and I and all of our coaches are going to be going on our journey together with all the things we’re announcing so I definitely think learning is luxurious. And so between that and exercise, it’s really been able to keep me happy and grounded.

Thank you so much, Klaus, for this wonderful event.

Thank you so much for listening to the Transforming Healthcare Coaching Podcast. If you found this episode interesting or useful, please share this with your friends and colleagues in healthcare, and we will love it if you hit subscribe so that you never miss an episode. Leave us a review on wherever you are listening to us.

It means a lot to us and we actually read every comment. Also, we want to help with the topics and problems that you want us to talk about. Email us with suggestions, feedback, and praise at podcast@transforminghealthcarecoaching.com. If you want deeper support for your life and work as a healthcare clinician and leader, head over to transforminghealthcarecoaching.com and see how we can partner together to meet your goals. Download your copy of our free five reflection questions to jumpstart your journey as you level up in your life and work and get on our email list. Be the first to know about our coaching programs and what’s coming. Together, we can transform healthcare, one person at a time.

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You deserve more than just getting through the day. You deserve a life filled with purpose, peace, and satisfaction. Let’s embark on this transformative journey together, and unlock the door to a life where you feel empowered, valued, and fulfilled every single day.At the core, our hosts believe in the transformative power of coaching to elevate healthcare professionals’ lives.


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Let's not just dream of a better healthcare system;

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Our hosts, a diverse team of energy leadership coaches, share a common foundation: each has been intricately involved in the healthcare industry, either currently working or having worked in various capacities. This shared experience in healthcare provides a deep understanding of the challenges and triumphs you face daily, making our guidance not just theoretical but grounded in real-life experiences.
At the core, our hosts believe in the transformative power of coaching to elevate healthcare professionals’ lives.

At the core, our hosts believe in the transformative power of coaching to elevate healthcare professionals’ lives.

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