Transforming Healthcare Coaching
Transforming Healthcare Coaching

Episode 8: Coaching Perspectives for Emergency Medicine Professionals

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Welcome to the Transforming Healthcare Coaching podcast! In this episode, hosts Lillian Liang Emlet and Klaus Grim delve into the challenges and rewards of working in emergency medicine. They discuss the pervasive issue of burnout among healthcare workers and share personal experiences and strategies for managing stress and maintaining resilience. Learn about the importance of coaching in healthcare, the impact of leadership and workplace environment on burnout, and how to recognize when it’s time to seek coaching. This episode is packed with insights for healthcare professionals looking to thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

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.
Hey, everybody. Welcome to Coaching in Emergency Medicine.
For those of you who are new to our events, we feature different coaching perspectives, focus on coaching in health care, time management and coaching women leaders.
And every now and then, because of my teaching education background, we also probably throw in some things related to teaching and learning and growth mindset content as well.
We’ll just introduce a little bit about us, Transforming Healthcare Coaching, and also a little bit about each of us. My name is Lillian Liang Emlet. I’m the Founder of Transforming Healthcare Coaching. We’re a company of several energy leadership coaches, who specialize in a wide variety of things that our clients come to us for, which include things like executive coaching, transitions and career coaching wellness and fitness.
And so those are all different types of things that we can handle. And so we do things like preventing burnout, healing from burnout, and also leveling up in your career and life. I personally am an academic intensivist and a simulation educator and coach for healthcare professionals.
And I’m pleased to introduce Klaus Grim, one of our amazing coaches.
Klaus Grim: Awesome. Thanks, Lilly. Yes. Hello, everyone. I’m really excited to be here with you guys today. A little bit about me as I’ve been working as an emergency medicine and urgent care physician assistant in the Boston area, and alongside my clinical practice, I also have the awesome privilege of serving as a lead preceptor for Tufts University PA students, really getting to guide the next generation of healthcare professionals.
My coaching practice, I really believe in the power of forever learning and finding harmony between our personal and professional lives. And as healthcare workers, we carry immense responsibilities. So I really believe it’s essential to care for ourselves along the way. And during challenging times, I actually partnered with a coach, and it became my guiding light, and it became my compass, really guiding me to turn my goals into reality.
And, I’m truly passionate here about extending this transformative power of coaching to my fellow healthcare workers, so welcome again. And empowering them to really embrace their full potential and become the driving force behind positive changes in their own lives.
Lillian: Awesome. So I just want to get started with the fact that both of us practicing emergency medicine, it’s a specialty that’s really been described to have a high amount of burnout.
We knew this actually going in. And so why, in spite of this, did you choose a career in emergency medicine clinically?
Klaus Grim: Yeah, I think I’ll start with maybe why I went into emergency medicine in general was that I love being a generalist, I think that was always something that I always wanted to be.
For a long time, I juggled between emergency medicine and family medicine for that reason. My background prior to being a PA was international healthcare and working with underserved populations. I had some work in Spain where I was working with terminally ill. In Thailand, where I worked at a rural hospital and in Belize, actually, as a PA student, which was incredible where we got to bring health care to Mayan villages.
But, emergency medicine in general always was something that I was drawn to this kind of fast paced environment, but it’s difficult to get into out of PA school. You know unlike our physician colleagues here, you know, we don’t get a residency. We do six weeks in a specialty, and then you know you go into the job force and you have this high learning curve as I’m sure you could speak to as well. So when I did my emergency medicine rotation, I looked up to these PAs, physicians, and nurses that were working in this fast paced environment, and their resilience and their skills all while being in this environment that was so chaotic and yet they were still having a positive attitude I think is what really drew me to saying, Hey, I want to be like one of them.
Lillian: That’s amazing. So it’s interesting because I’ve interacted with physician assistants throughout my career, in critical care and emergency medicine, I actually didn’t realize it was competitive and really hard to get into the specialty just because I know so many physician assistants in emergency medicine.
Klaus Grim: Yeah, it’s interesting too, I think most jobs actually in general want more people with experience, but it’s not one of the ones that is as new graduate friendly unless they have that training set up for them.
And for, like I said, as a new grad physician assistant you almost feel like a student once you graduate; you still have a lot of learning to do again and refreshing on some of the skills. And I think that’s maybe what the beauty of our field is being forever learners and continuously growing.
And I think this is why coaching really resonated with me. But yeah, I’m very lucky to be in the field that I’m in right now.
Lillian: Yeah. It’s funny ’cause when you said the comment about you get to learn all the time, I’m like, aren’t we all always learning all the time?
And I think in medicine we always are, there’s always just so much to, to learn in general. And in emergency medicine especially just because there’s so much to, to learn from neonatal all the way to end of life care is just a gamut, is so large. And for me, when I was rotating through just like you, when you were rotating through, like, how do you pick which type of specialty you want to end up choosing?
I really loved surgery, actually. And I also did not like their lifestyle, getting up at crack of dawn and your entire life is there for, 18 hours a day. And I loved the people, loved the specialty, loved being the operator, loved all those things. And then I realized I can’t do this because it’s just not.
Life friendly, at least for me at the time. And so I decided to choose the most adjacent thing I could find, which is emergency medicine, because you worked with the surgeons in the trauma bay, you still got to take care of surgical things. And, it’s funny how life comes full circle where later on I became an intensivist and actually worked in the trauma ICU and took care of all of their patients.
So it was like the best of all worlds. And I was again, sadly living their 6am, 5am life and coming into pre round with them. But what I love the most about emergency medicine is that it’s the thing that you could 24-7-365. We are always here. And so it’s one of the things where because it cared for all of Americans, all people in the world, you can, you know that there’s someone who can help you with the people in their worst times, both medically and mentally and emotionally.
It was just something you could be proud of to be the catchment for the country for where when you don’t know where to go, you can go to the emergency department.
Klaus Grim: Exactly. It’s incredible that you’re able to handle anything that just walks through your door, and I think that is the beauty of this field is you’re just well, you’re just a generally well trained provider.
That can handle anything. I want to comment on that burnout part. I think both of you and I recognize that burnout is huge in this field, And I think as a new graduate going into this field that I was immune to burnout I think you learn about burnout you’re like, oh that’s not gonna happen to me till 10 years 15 years down the line, right?
And I think that it’s becoming much more prevalent, due to increasing challenges that we’re seeing in health care, like staff shortages, negative work environments, escalating patient volume loads, we’re getting sicker patients here, right? Patient abuse, what it may be.
And I think I didn’t expect, like I said, to struggle with burnout when I first started. I don’t know what your experience was before going into the field.
Lillian: Yeah, it’s really funny you say that. I totally agree. I was like that will not happen to me. I’ll be able to watch for this more.
And, and then in residency, they do give you a little bit of at least exposure. They are able to talk about it, with ACEP, there is a burnout and a well being resources, guidance, curriculum, like you think okay because I know about it, I’ll be able to handle it.
And so I think in some ways, it has changed over the last 15 years in terms of awareness and resources and help. And you’re right, when you’re young, you just think you’re able to handle anything because you physically can and you actually just can get some sleep and next thing you just keep on doing it.
But I agree, I burned out two times actually in my career already. And I know I don’t think I, I don’t look that old, but I already have within the first early career. And I think that’s the other misnomer that we often don’t talk about: that burnout is higher in training, residency, medical students, and early career.
And then over time, you obviously get the support and you learn on the way, on the life, supports and mechanisms to get through burnout. But it’s a shame because, again, we wonder whether we could prevent it if we could actually have different structures and different ways of practicing healthcare.
But yes, I agree with you. I too was just, I’m immune, I’ll be okay. And I’m smart enough to learn enough so that maybe I can just learn it away, kind of thing.
Klaus Grim: Yeah. Wow.
Lillian: Just in terms of, thinking about all the great things we’ve talked about why we went into emergency medicine, I’m just curious what do you love the most and what do you dislike the most about your job clinically?
Just so that people who may not be in emergency medicine might have a sense of, the world we’re coming from. And I thought it was really nice just even just for us talking about why we went into it, because I think a lot of times we don’t take the pause to even think about why we chose what we chose.
Because I think it’s really important, and yet, you’re just running the race of life. And so it was really nice just to be able to share with you, why I chose, what I chose so many years ago.
Klaus Grim: 100 percent Lilly, I think that reflection is what I lost when I started experiencing burnout during COVID, and I think you just nailed it in that manner, is that talking about it, right? Revisiting what brought you to where you are right now, I think is huge. Yeah, so about this love and hate thing with my job, I’m going to be very brief on the hate so we can talk more positive, but we’ll start with, our health care system from an emergency medicine perspective, seeing, certain individuals who get free health care and the others who don’t and seeing people get delayed care because of, health care costs or lack of insurance.
I think private insurance is a tough one, and I think it’s highly opinionated, a lot of this stuff. But it’s so tough when I see people who, work so hard and really just their their paycheck is just going for, routine care or certain things that I think we should be not really charging for.
But that’s maybe is it a personal opinion here? I think other thing that discourages me clinically is when, the emergency room is used as a place to sleep or or accelerated primary care or urgent care, things that are not emergent that we’re seeing and now it’s delaying the people who actually do have true emergencies .
Abuse of health care workers, we see so much and I see this more on my nursing colleagues along with the crisis social workers that I work with. And I think that is another thing that makes it very difficult to come into work knowing that, that abuse can happen with little consequence.
We see it way too often. Curious to see what things clinically for you, Lilly, or maybe bring you not so much joy.
Lillian: Yeah. Obviously, so for me, I would say the things that are really sometimes a dissatisfier will be the degree of maybe entitlement, like you said, maybe in terms of
the way of interaction with the health care system that things are so imperfect because our staff are running on little, right? So I think when people come to interacting with the front door, we are the front door. We are the face of access point of care to emergency care, any kind of care.
They expect it to be like a very fancy restaurant. And they should, right? So patients should actually get a great experience when they come in. And sometimes it’s just not that way because we were all sometimes a little jaded from our experience, exhausted ourselves. And it’s no wonder that serial people in line from the, usually not the front desk front is actually a very excellent at what they do.
But once you get further and further in, because ,our ability to just do things in order are also very fragmented, like you said, because of the volume. Then things might get missed and then people have a different type of expectation. So that there is a general grumpiness, you know like all the time right out there, even with the gas station right or the store or I can’t believe I’m waiting for so long for my Starbucks Coffee- that just the entitlement of the customer sort of experience is a little bit challenging. You know when I’m out in public even at the coffee shop I’m like we all just need to take a breath. Like it, it’ll be okay.
People hopefully should know too, that our triage nurses are excellent. They’ll know and if you are worried just come back up to the window, just come back up and we’re going to keep on helping as best we can, so I think the thing you had said about the violence against healthcare workers.
That really struck a nerve because everyone is trying to do the best they can and everyone’s trying to advocate. It’s just that entitlement feeling, I think bothers me. It’s funny, because a lot of people have mentioned, the, what you come to the emergency department for. It doesn’t bother me that much that people come for little things because we’re the only care that they can find.
And so I’m okay and happy to help. As long as you don’t complain that you had to wait a while because I was busy with something else. And so I think for me and the place I practiced, it actually wasn’t too much of an issue because most patients actually were like, wow, you can hear it’s really busy out there, I can understand why you’re waiting. You guys clearly have something serious going on or, so I think in that respect, I didn’t experience as much of that because I think maybe the places I practiced the patients themselves were actually quite reasonable in that, but there is that entitlement.
Yeah. So I think for me that’s the biggest thing that sort of is a dissatisfier is when there’s an expectation of a level of like, Restaurant service almost.
Klaus Grim: Yeah, that entitlement, as you mentioned, and, it’s so easy to talk into the space of, what we hate so much, right? About health care or whatnot, but I think you, you nailed it in terms of, we don’t mind taking care of these people, with maybe simple complaints that, may not need anything extravagant in terms of treatment.
But as long as you’re acknowledging and understand that, hey, there’s a cardiac arrest that you didn’t even see that’s the whole team’s back working on. And I understand and I will wait my turn. I think it’s totally worth it.
Lillian: I actually was thinking of another thing that actually does bother me is actually the access to be able to get good mental health. So much of the things we’ve seen, are mental health related and just the ability to get access to good quality care transfers, bed availability for mental health because we are, again, also the front lines for that.
Yet, we don’t talk about it.
Klaus Grim: Yeah, mental health is such a rising issue, and there’s lack of providers. There’s lack of space. It’s something I see very frequently in the emergency room. And how to address it, I think a bigger issue than many of us are equipped to handle right in this conversation.
Yeah. Yeah. But so something I wanted to comment on was I think. What I really love the most about my job, I think, is my colleagues, and I had mentioned it earlier is, the ones that are the ones that are creating a positive working environment and who are also providing excellent patient care.
I think those are the people that I gravitate towards. And there’s a phrase that we learned in our coaching school and it’s energy attracts like energy and that energy that my colleagues bring really uplifts me and it gets me to act more positively right when it’s so easy to be drawn into this, destructive energy that we could sometimes hone in on.
And then, as you mentioned earlier, is that I love working, caring for thankful people who are happy to get the care that you provided them. Because I always go into a patient room, always wanting to give the best possible care. And when you get that person who is staring at the watch every time you’re talking to them, versus the person who really just said, thank you for what you did here today, I hope you have a good day or a Merry Christmas if you’re there working on Christmas. I think go is such a long way.
Lillian: Yeah, absolutely. And I think for me, the best parts about being in the emergency department is just you never know what you’re going to have and what your team has to respond to.
And then when the team rises up and handles it. It’s such a beautiful thing to see, just to be able to get the patient to CT, the dissection comes in, an MI comes in helping me with sewing up a lack, it’s just I agree with you, I’m totally grateful for the nurses and the techs.
Even in tech, like I’m all frazzled because I have all this discharge paperwork to do and she’s I can help with the splinting. I’m like, I love you. So really just so grateful for it. And then, like when you’re doing a resuscitation, just the teamwork that we have Yeah, that for me is the people I agree with you to just we all got each other’s back in the department.
Nowhere else is as amazing as there.
Klaus Grim: Yeah, I think the team speaks for itself. And 1 thing I wanted to mention was maybe more specific to the physician assistant field and in the emergency room I work at is I have autonomy, pretty much full autonomy to take care of patients with skills that I was trained on, and there’s not much that I can’t do that my physician colleagues can do in my department and I think that alone hones in on a level of respect for my profession.
Some other places, every case you have to present to a physician, even a sore throat, right? That you’re just gonna, say it’s viral pharyngitis, nothing to do. Whereas here, we only have to present the cases where we don’t feel comfortable with that we could use some guidance with and then even
the respect among the administration, our field has there and making changes within the department, I think, is something that’s very unique. And I love that about my job.
Lillian: Yeah, that’s really awesome and amazing because you highlight a point about what literature would suggest about burnout is that the leaders in the leadership and the inclusion and the respect and autonomy are huge factors in terms of what predicts a clinician or clinician group to burn out.
And it’s wonderful that you’re able to find a group that actually makes sure the leadership is there and the respect is there to be able to provide a good working environment so that everybody’s voice is heard equally. Yeah. Yeah. So I’m curious, as both of us as coaches do have clients who are in emergency medicine who then come to see coaching either, at some point in their career.
And so what are some of the issues for you and your clients? Anyone who’s in academic or in kind of clinical practice in emergency medicine, there are common tension points that, actually finally is enough where they’re like, you know what? Maybe I need a coach. They come and they come to you to find coaching.
Klaus Grim: Yeah, I think as we’ve been talking a lot about being a heavy hitter is burnout, or at least the manifestations of burnout. And I talk about this on another podcast that we’ve done that a lot of people don’t even know that they’re experiencing burnout. It’s more of the manifestations of it, and like I said, that’s what I was experiencing during COVID.
And things like anxiety, depression, stress, that emotional exhaustion, withdrawal from relationships, really development of unhealthy habits and low motivation for things and decreased self esteem. So these were all things that I see that I was experiencing, but I also see a lot of my clients experiencing and it’s what says, hey, I need to make changes here and why they’re like, okay, let’s let’s set up for that ELI assessment and get some awareness of where I’m at right now and then developing a plan to say, hey, this is what I’m going to do to change.
Lillian: Yeah. And so I think, you hit up on a really, a huge point is that, a lot of times the reason why people seek coaching is actually just, they first have symptoms. They don’t know what it’s about, and I think for me, same kind of thing, the clients I have they’re like it’s not right.
That’s all they can, that’s all they can tell. This isn’t perfect and I wish to be better. And so maybe you can help me. And then we have to, in the beginning point out that therapy is looking back, right? And try to figure out the understanding for how things have gotten to the way they are.
And that coaching is looking forward. And sometimes you need both a therapist and a coach if you’re in the deepest depths of very symptomatic burnout. And if you’re lucky enough that you caught it when it’s just a couple of symptoms, and that’s why awareness is key, then we can then focus on our Energy Leadership Index, the ELI assessment and then be able to get that.
Ability to figure out, okay, let’s pick one thing, make some progress. Next thing, make some progress. And then you get to choose. You get to choose which one thing you want to try to make some progress on and then it’s pretty amazing. And I know you’ve experienced it with your clients. Once you begin the domino of one thing accountable to yourself with a coach, oh, and then I can do this, I can do this, and it’s pretty amazing to watch people get self efficacy back.
Where you go from something’s not right, To getting understanding of your own house, your own who you are, who you, what you value and the why, which is why we started this whole entire webinar with how do we get to where we are like all of us in our company, Transforming Healthcare Coaching, we all came from healthcare or are still in healthcare like you and I were still an academic the academic profession actually of teaching both you and I in emergency medicine.
So I just wanted to comment on that and highlight that aspect.
Klaus Grim: Yeah, and Lilly, I think you touched on it too, as earlier you had mentioned oftentimes we don’t know, when we need coaching until we’re experiencing the symptoms, and I think that was one thing that I personally struggled with too, was is I knew I started experiencing the symptoms, but I kept procrastinating, saying no, I don’t need coaching now or I don’t need to make changes now, just.
Maybe something will happen later on, and I think that’s one of the toughest things to do is saying right now, I need this now, and I know I can put in the work for it, and I’m going to partner with somebody who’s going to go at my pace and make these changes that I need to make.
Lillian: Yeah, it’s interesting.
So whenever your colleagues and friends ask you about this, because I’ve been getting this like a lot now how do you know when you’re ready for a coach? This wasn’t something we were planning on talking about, but I’m curious since you brought it up. What advice would you give people for how do you know when is the right time?
Klaus Grim: I think it’s highly personalized and, I feel like you need to have a need. So what’s the need? I think you need to be able to recognize that you have a need, whether that be, I’m I’m not happy or I’m not satisfied with my job, or I’m having low self esteem , almost sounds like therapy but I’m having low satisfaction with things at home, or having relationship issues because of work, whatever it may be, I think recognizing that there’s a need, and then knowing that you want a change.
I think that’s the biggest difference between I think therapy and coaching is saying I don’t want to sit in this space. I don’t want to just be I’m not happy with this. I want to move forward. And I think that’s the hardest part is how to make that next step with moving forward.
And, for me, I always thought I could do this myself. And I probably could, but it would take, I feel like, years for changes to happen. And when I partnered with a coach, things that I’ve had on my list of things to do were being crossed off within a month. In reality, that stuff has been there for years and in the time, right?
You need to be able to put the work into it, have the time to do so being able to say, every week or every other week for three months at the very least of putting in work with this coach is I think something that you have to be ready for and it’s exciting.
Lillian: Yeah, absolutely. And I basically would say to me, it’s just like you said, it’s just the desire.
You just need to have the desire to grow and change. And you also, like you said you need to just know that something’s not right. And I, and something wants, you want something to be different. And I know for a lot of people that I’m seeing is that they’re wondering if there’s something else different or better or additional that they can pursue.
And I preach this quite a bit with many of my mentees is diversification. Diversification of your skills, of your time, your money, it’s actually all a good thing. Which is why we talk a lot about being, like, holding multiple things is possible. You don’t have to think there’s only one aspect of yourself that could be fulfilled.
So just the desire to change and the willingness to try and play and move towards something different. Most of my clients do come though, because they’re aware enough to recognize that they want to show up differently in their own lives. Like they just got a new promotion or a new job, a new sort of transition and they just want to be the best version that they can be.
They’re performance oriented. So that’s why they end up seeking a coach.
Klaus Grim: Yeah, and I think you just hit on as well as that you don’t also have to know exactly 100 percent what it is that you want. It’s just knowing that you want that change and the rest unfolds with working with a coach.
That’s what’s beautiful about the ELI assessment that our coaches do part of Transforming Healthcare Coaching, and it really brings your awareness of where your energy falls in life and what changes you want to make in your day to day life, and you’ll be surprised what comes up for you.
Lillian: Yeah, and so I guess with our last question just want to close things out was what kind of breakthroughs or results do your clients who are in acute care specialties like emergency medicine or surgery or critical care, what do your clients have through your coaching relations?
In generalities, what kinds of things do they experience?
Klaus Grim: Like I said that awareness number one where their energy is and then a shift to much more constructive energy, I think is huge and with these shifts I see improved stress management, both clinically and at home.
I see enhanced leadership skills because they’ve just become better communicators and they are really good at fostering teamwork as a result of our interactions. I think specifically to emergency medicine, I’ve seen enhanced decision making abilities because they just have greater self confidence.
And I think the stuff that I see more often is more of the increased wellbeing and work life balance, which I think really just leads them on this road of just preventing burnout.
Lillian: Yeah. I think for me, almost all my clients required the first care to themselves to allow them to care for others and caring for others, meaning like leadership because they’re managing in a huge department or a whole work group.
So they were having all these frustrations, and then when they just went back and took some time to care for themselves and were actually able to accomplish that, then everything else became, like I said, that was a domino number one, where they didn’t really realize how frazzled they were with balancing everything they thought they were doing really well.
But when they picked one thing to start, they actually just started with themselves. And then from there, the second domino became the side effect. Like you said, the leadership or the clinical decision making but really just showing up differently in the moment of conflict. So some of my clients they’ve actually had to deal some really serious things, and because of the awareness they just took care of it, where you know, six months ago, they can see how wow I’m different.
I just handled it, rather than letting it get to you. To some degree, like the craziness of this world, which it’s always going to be like that.
Klaus Grim: I love that you tackled a root and, you were aiming for maybe the stem, but you’ve got all these other branches that were affected by just working on that one root cause.
I think that’s beautiful.
Lillian: So that’s a wonderful analogy to end on. So I think that’s where I want to wrap up. For everyone who’s listening today if you want to go ahead and put in the comments, anything you want us to talk about next time or if this resonated with you. We just are really appreciative of your willingness to spend about 30 minutes with us.
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 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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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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