Commit To Thrive: Why Should You Listen To This Podcast? With Dr. Angela Edwards

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There are thousands of podcasts out there. You can search any subject and chances are there is a podcast for it. So why should you listen to Commit to Thrive? In this pioneering episode, our host, Dr. Todd Redden bares the purpose of this new podcast for physicians with his colleague, Dr. Angela Edwards. Dr. Redden wants Commit to Thrive to become a special place where physicians can gain resources that will support them, make them feel better about the work they're doing, and provide them with tools so that they could be more effective as leaders in these rapidly changing times. Things are always in flux in the medical industry. Keep yourself in the loop and get yourself informed by tuning in to this show!


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Commit To Thrive: Why Should You Listen To This Podcast? With Dr. Angela Edwards

This is Dr. Todd Redden and I'm your host for Commit to Thrive Podcast. I'm especially excited about this episode because this is the inaugural Commit to Thrive Podcast, one of the many resources that we provide through The Institute for Healthcare and Academic Leadership. This is our first episode so I'm going to flip the roles from a traditional format. I'm going to have our guest interview me about the show itself, what's unique about the show, and how it will be a valuable resource for physicians, as well as other healthcare providers, faculty, and administrators.

I'm pumped about this episode because we have a very special guest, Dr. Angela Edwards. Dr. Edwards is serving as an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She is a physician and an expert in her field of anesthesiology. She specializes in Perioperative Optimization through the School of Medicine. She's the Director of Perioperative Assessment and is the Section Head of Perioperative Medicine for the Department of Anesthesiology. She has served nationally as the President of the Society for Perioperative Assessment and Quality Improvement.

She's the Director of their society's Annual Perioperative Medicine Summit, and Chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Perioperative Medical Education Track for their national meeting. She has received numerous awards and invitations to speak nationally and internationally about her field of expertise and care for surgical patients. She also serves as Vice Chair of Professional Affairs for the Department of Anesthesiology, which facilitates professional advancement opportunities for faculty with national organizations.

I've known Angie for several years. Not only have I found her to be extremely busy in her clinical field, but she's also influential and a brilliant leader at the local, national, and international levels. She's an educator, a mentor, and a strong advocate for women in medicine. Thank you for reading this episode. I know you'll enjoy our time together.

I'd like to welcome Dr. Angela Edwards to the show. She has been gracious enough to join us and spend some time with me in this episode. We're going to flip the roles from a traditional show where she's going to interview me so that the reader can learn more about the purpose of this show and what you can hope to benefit from by reading each episode. Angie, thank you for being here. Welcome.

Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure. I'm delighted. I'm looking forward to our conversation and seeing where you're going with this show.

Me too. Thank you.

As I was thinking about how we were going to approach this, in looking at all the shows that are out there, I wanted you to share, first off, what's going to be different about this show? Why should the readers choose to read this show?

There are thousands of shows out there. You can find a show probably for pretty much any subject that you want such as facts, fictional, non-fictional, storytelling, and so forth. I've been working with physicians for many years. I've been in healthcare for over 25 years, and I have seen the experience of physicians, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I can also attest to nurses, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers.

Physicians, specifically, are a unique brand. I say that with the utmost respect. When I think about other professions, whether you're an attorney, an accountant or even a healthcare administrator, those jobs have been pretty constant through the years. There have been software changes, laws and other facets that have changed but the life of the physician has been in constant flux. Throughout a physician's career, from med school to residency to retirement, there's so much change that physicians have to experience.

Being able to adjust to that while maintaining the joy of practicing Medicine is a challenge. It doesn't matter if your primary focus is research or teaching in academia or if you're a clinician or a leader in healthcare. Your world is constantly changing and there's so much noise. I have seen this lead to burnout, a lack of joy in medicine and early retirement. I've seen people encourage their children not to go into medicine for that very reason. That's disheartening because I’m someone who spent some time in the clinical world many years ago and who is now on my own providing professional and executive and personal coaching to physicians, leadership development and consultation.

My constant work with physicians led me to recognize that there needs to be a special place where physicians can go to gain resources that will support them, make them feel better about the work they're doing but also provide them with tools so that they can be more effective as leaders and they could be dynamic faculty members in a dynamic learning environment, a resource where physicians can better understand the business of healthcare and Medicine and learn from some experts the direction that the field is going but also it is an opportunity to help physicians take care of themselves so that they can not only provide excellent patient care but self-care.

One of the things I wanted to reiterate was that a physician's career changes so drastically over time. I used to emphasize that the first 5 years are different from the 5 to 10 years, 10 to 15 and 15 to 20-year mark. You've got this gray zone. If you think about it in research terms, you've got an early career and mid-career. You don't know by the time you fit mid-career and halfway through it, you might be there. You probably entered a leadership role or have been given leadership opportunities and have no idea what resources you might need to continue to be successful. Implement the change you want to. Take better care of patients. Taking care of ourselves has never been at the forefront of our minds. We forget.

I love this idea of having a place to go, especially in a show format where you can read when you need to, even if it's 4:00 AM, or you're either coming home from work, or waking up to go to work or perhaps reviewing charts and you need something a little refreshing to remind you of what you're supposed to already know but you might not. What inspired you to do this? You talked a little bit about your background. You worked with some physicians before. I'm sure without divulging specific stories, you've got some inspiration behind it. What was the impetus for the show?

First of all, podcasts are a way for me to reach populations that don't know me personally. It expands my audience that allows me to touch the lives of physicians in a way that I may not be able to as a coach or as a person who develops physician leaders within academic and healthcare settings. The second reason that inspired me was recognizing the challenges that many physicians are experiencing. I've worked with many administrators who are not physicians and many physicians who are administrators. I found physicians to probably be more open and accepting of engaging in personal and professional development more so than non-physicians.

I believe the reason for that is physicians recognize where their expertise lies and then when they need to grow, they're intellectually curious and they want to be the best that they could be. Physicians are type-A and competitive. The other thing that physicians are is they're horrible patients. They're not great at taking care of themselves. They've committed so much time to their profession, their colleagues and the field of the knowledge base of medicine. They're also able to weave in some time for family and it leaves very little time for themselves.

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Commit To Thrive: Physicians are very open to engaging in personal and professional development. The reason for that is physicians recognize where their expertise lies, and then when they need to grow, they're intellectually curious.

Part of what inspired me to do this show is to provide a conduit for physicians to be able to remember that they are also of importance. They cannot be a fantastic physician, educator, spouse or parent if they're not taking care of themselves. This is not just about teaching physicians to take care of themselves but beyond that, helping them be the best they can be in the classroom and leadership roles.

There are a lot of people out there that will say physicians only want to hear from physicians. I'm not a physician. My doctoral degree is in Leadership but all of the years that I have spent working with physicians, either coaching or developing them as leaders. I ran a med staff services office, a research division and a physician education division. I've worked with some of the largest healthcare institutions across the nation. I have seen a consistent pattern of physicians being open to development but oftentimes, institutions are not engaging in their development.

I want to be a resource for physicians to take care of themselves and develop them to be the best that they could be. That's why I named the show, Commit to Thrive, because I want physicians to be able to commit to themselves that they're not just going to survive this chaotic, crazy, changing healthcare environment but they're going to thrive in every area.

I love the fact that you've worked with such a diverse group before because a lot of our budding leaders are entering the era of having to work with the administration. When it's new, it's hard to figure out the background. From my perspective, this would be a great resource for physicians who are entering those leadership roles where it's new to work with folks who have been in business and healthcare positions for years, decades even. You have a new budding leader who is trying to figure out how to navigate that space and thrive in it.

I can see why it would be beneficial for physicians to read this but also for all clinicians. We've got a lot of incredible leaders in addition to physicians who are in the space and it's a multidisciplinary engagement. Thriving also means respecting others and having an understanding of others. In leadership, that's where we have to go. I love the idea that this is going to be out there. I can't wait to read this first episode. We touched a little bit on this, but I want to give you an opportunity to expand more. As I'm thinking, you probably got a lineup of speakers and curriculum. If there are just a few take-home points, what do you hope your readers are going to gain out of reading the show series?

First of all, I want them to be able to enjoy the relatable content. Whether they're just getting into a leadership role or they're a seasoned leader, I want this to be something for everyone. There may be some episodes that are very specific to creating a dynamic learning environment within an academic setting. You may have a physician that's purely clinical that thinks that they may not be able to benefit from that episode but I want them to read because physicians set culture. Physicians are leaders and teachers by default. People are constantly looking at physicians, whether they want that role or not.

When a physician walks into the room, the heads turn. The patient and the family look to the physician as the expert in the room. The clinical staff that's sharing as part of that treatment team is looking to the physician for leadership. That physician is either going to create a great, healthy, inclusive culture or undermine that type of culture. Regardless of the topic, I do believe that there is something here for everyone.

Physicians are leaders by default. Physicians are teachers by default. When a physician walks into the room, heads turn to the physician as the expert.

Probably 85% of my work is with physicians. I also work with nurses, nurse leaders, and other types of healthcare providers and administrators. I do believe that there will be something here for everyone. Sometimes it will be topical in nature. Other times, I will bring in guests who have particular expertise or maybe who’ve written a book. They can talk about that book and the benefits of that book of how it can help physicians like yourself as well as other clinical leaders.

I have some great books for you and some great authors I want to have to be interviewed. How's that? I got a top-five list. I love that this is going to be out there, just having something to read quickly. There are a lot of shows out there so we might spend a couple of minutes picking and choosing, but this is something that is relatable and has content that's digestible and gives us a little background so we can thrive through our day and not just get through.

Perhaps providing some inspiration and information at the same time is vital. It breaks my heart to see so many shows out there on exit strategies and how to get out of Medicine rather than how to stay in it and thrive in it. I love this idea. On that note, I wanted to ask. For those who are probably curious because sometimes shows have a fee associated, is there a cost to joining it, a subscription that we have to do, or a link that we have to click to get on board?

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Not at all. This will never have an expense associated with it. It is free of charge. The only thing I would ask is for people to share the show. That's the fee. For many physician leaders that I've worked with, most would attest that it comes with about 25% to 30% experience in 70% to 75% scar tissue. I want there to be less scar tissue in the experience of leadership.

I want to be able to provide physicians with the resources that are needed, not only to effectively lead within the healthcare culture but also to take care of themselves in doing that. Physicians are hungry for development. You're intellectually curious and you want to be the best that you can be at the top of your game. I have found physicians to be open to learning and developing. Those that aren't probably are challenged and may not do quite as well in their field but most physicians that I've run across are open to development. I want to be able to provide this show at no cost whatsoever so that it could be a valuable resource.

Before we wrap up, I want to ask you for a story, if you can, that gives us some background as to why you're qualified to give this show and what your background is. You talked a lot about that but maybe something a little more granular story if you can share without divulging too much. I love the fact that you've worked with administrators, physicians and other clinicians in the space. Maybe there's something that comes to mind that's a quick wrap-up story to give us a teaser or a little sample of what you're going to be talking about.

Anyone can start a show, but not everyone is experienced enough to be able to be a content subject matter expert. My clinical background is in psychiatry and behavioral health. I worked independently and in public mental health for several years. I started working in a hospital setting and that was my first experience working directly with physician colleagues.

I started recognizing that the physician culture was one of wearing as a badge of honor long hours, hard work and personal and professional sacrifice. Our culture has changed in a way. For instance, the limited hours on residencies have changed. When you went through residency, they probably didn't limit your hours. You worked and worked. I see trauma surgeons who wear as a badge of honor like, "I've been awake for the last 36 hours." I see that burnout.

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Commit To Thrive: In the physician culture, long hours, hard work and personal and professional sacrifice, are often worn as a badge of honor.

I've had physician friends who have committed suicide or died in early death as a result of chronic disease and the associated comorbidities that come with that. I have had physicians in my office in tears because they felt like an EMR, Electronic Medical Record, was dangerous to a patient. It was such a challenge for physicians to be able to use without adequate training and resources.

I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in frontline physician's life, as well as physician leaders. Having worked so closely with physicians has become a population that I have a soft spot for. I had worked on-call, got up in the middle of the night, gone to the emergency department, provided psychiatric assessments and carried the beeper.

I was in an elevator not long ago and a resident was wearing the old Motorola pager and that tone went off. I wish Motorola would change its tone because that tone has never changed for 50 years. Since I've had to crawl out of bed in the middle of the night, when that pager went off, it sent chills down my spine.

Having to work hand-in-hand with physicians and experience the challenges that physicians and physician leaders experience, it's not all bad. I have seen the joys of practicing Medicine. I've seen physicians show such appreciation when they're recognized and identified as leaders locally and nationally but the resources and investment that healthcare administrators and healthcare organizations put into physicians are nominal.

I believe that the important is often put on the back burner and the urgent is usually what gets our attention. The work that we're doing through The Institute for Healthcare and Academic Leadership and this show is the important stuff. It's not a burning platform. It's not considered to be urgent but it's so important to help grow and support the physician population. That's why I chose this population. Having worked for many years alongside physicians and having the expertise in leadership and experience in leadership development and coaching led me to focus primarily on this field and provide the organization which I founded and this show.

I was riveted. I probably should have written this down because it resonated with me. "It's not considered necessarily important or urgent at the time." I would pause there and say, "No, I think it is." It's urgent that physicians have a lot of resources out there because you don't know what you don't know unless it hits you in the face like, "You need this. This is good for you. Listen. You might get something out of it. Give it 5 or 6 tries and see what happens.” It's an opportunity to thrive.

The urgency is that we need to thrive where we are. I heard a colleague say and I loved this when it came to leadership, “Leadership is not always about titles or what you're supposed to be doing in the job description you have necessarily. You need to lead from where you are.” What does that look like? How do we do that?

We're not taught that in medical school and residency. We're just trying to survive and learn in whatever way we can. You get out and all of a sudden, you have this job to do this role. It's always been about patient care but then there's everything else. You got to thrive with everything else. That's why I would argue. It's urgent that we learn to thrive and we have resources to thrive to take better care of patients and ourselves.

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I hope everyone will share the show because there are many frontline physician leaders whom I've worked with, medical directors, associate medical directors and medical directors within the ambulatory setting that were thrust into leadership positions who were ill-prepared. Oftentimes, these physicians end up in leadership roles because they miss the meeting and everyone nominated them to be the next leader or it's their turn.

In this job, we need you to take it because it is not enough to go, "Sure. I’ll do that."

We may or may not compensate you with a small stipend but we're not going to invest in you and develop you. The orientation is very limited and that onboarding is so important in that process. Organizations are going to have to develop their leaders. Fortunately, organizations bring me to work with physicians but there's room for so much more growth. Whether it's me or someone else that does what I do, there's a significant need.

Healthcare organizations need to develop their leaders. There is room for so much more growth in this area.

When you say that there's a significant need across the board for all of our leaders, we need to figure out how to work better together, whether it's administration, nursing or advanced practice providers that are incredibly talented in the space of leadership. There's room for all. We just need to figure out how to navigate that together. Todd, thank you for letting me ask these rather direct questions unfiltered and that last one, especially. I hope this goes well. I'm sure it will be shared widely. I wish you the best of luck.

Thank you, Angie. I appreciate your time. It's an honor to be with you. I look forward to connecting with you and having you back as a guest on our show.

Anytime, I'd love to. I'd love to be here.


Thank you for reading this episode. I especially want to thank our guest, Angela Edwards, for her time, expertise, and contribution. We'll continue to offer this show at no cost to the readers and simply ask that you share the show. Share the show with your colleagues, academic faculty, nurse leaders, and anyone else whom you believe will benefit from the resources of the show, as well as the Institute for Healthcare and Academic Leadership. Until next time. I’m wishing you well. I’m encouraging you to take care of yourself in every facet of your life as you commit to thrive.

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About Angela Edwards

Dr Angela Edwards is an expert in perioperative optimization as well as a dedicated leader in faculty development.  She is currently an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston Salem NC.

Dr Edwards has served as medical director of preoperative assessment and  section head of perioperative medicine for the Department of Anesthesiology. She has served nationally as President for the Society for Perioperative Assessment and Quality Improvement, Director of the society’s annual Perioperative Medicine Summit and chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists  perioperative medical education track for the national meeting.

Dr Edwards has received several awards and invitations to speak nationally and internationally  about perioperative optimization and care of the surgical patient.  At Wake Forest, Dr Edwards  serves on the school of medicine’s faculty development council,  faculty representative council,  and the University Faculty Senate.  Dr Edwards serves as Vice Chair of Professional Affairs  for the Department of Anesthesiology to facilitate professional advancement opportunities for faculty  with national organizations.