The lonely, unhappy Doctor.

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“Who and what you listen to is a reflection of the future version of you.” ~J.H., Author

By Michael Tetreault, Editor/Author

Often times we hear, being a Physician can be one of the loneliest jobs in the world, despite the amount of places and faces you meet and/or visit each day.

Over the past twenty years I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and spending hours of one-on-one time with hundreds of Physicians from all walks of life. Many of whom are now friends and Physicians I deeply respect, admire and call some of my closest and dearest friends.

From the Doctor who made it his mission to care for the homeless population in Boston, Mass., to Physician-CEOs who are some of the smartest people I’ve every met. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down for years now and asked these great Physicians about their pathways to happiness, professional and financial success and who’ve seemingly obtained what every Doctor desires, career satisfaction while remaining a servant to the Patient. Subsequently, many of these great Physicians practice Concierge Medicine.

As I’ve sat down for coffee with Physicians or on a podcast or visited their practice, I see first-hand how hard they work. They inspire Patients, their peers and toil at some of the best and largest healthcare institutions in the world. They have greatest job in the world and some have incredibly high positions of leadership and influence among their peers and their Patients. One of the most unique observations I’ve learned and continue to share with you today is that they all inherently have a few things in common.

First, they understand that who and what they listen to right now will impact their future.

The author of the book What to do Next said it best when he writes “Who and what you listen to is a reflection of the future version you.”

Wise and discerning Doctors understand this.

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Parents teach their kids this.

We have to know that our present becomes our past that shapes our future.

Every Doctor has to be careful about what they fill their mind with, bend their ear towards or give attention to.

In each season of life we make decisions that shape what our lives look like in the next chapter.

Who and what are you letting shape your life for the next chapter you will be entering soon?

As you probably see and I’ve observed as well in our healthcare culture, that there is a ‘cast of crabs’ posting, blogging, ranting and raving (did you catch my use of a ‘collective noun’ there? 🙂 about how mistreated they were as a Physician. I have no doubt their story is true. That’s not point. The point is they’ve chosen to cross their arms and stand at the back of the room and now want to correct the hurt by informing you that they have the only solution to a broken problem.

Author Bob Goff wrote on social media recently, “No one has ever been argued into a change of heart.”

The negativity among Physician’s ranting and complaining online is worse than ever. It fills a intense need to be heard and is an outward expression of their unhappy station in life and hurt they feel. However, they don’t simply want you to listen or read or click. They desire for you to agree. Agree, with them.

That’s where I think the fork in the road begins.

Good Physician’s have agreed with a lot these opinions and rants and continue to participate in them.

“One of the first of many places we Physicians can treat this cancer of physician burnout that plagues healthcare is by retreating from those who are peers that are routinely bullying and negative. Words carry weight. Who the author is matters. It’s no longer about being the best Doctor in the world anymore, it’s about being the best Doctor FOR the world.” Author, Michael Tetreault with Governor’s Commendation for his work with Doctors over the past 20-years. Photo Credit/Source: Staff, Concierge Medicine Today | Healthcare Industry Trade Publication

Just this week a professional hockey podcaster and former player said the best advice he got that he attributes years later to his long record of success in the NHL was advice he got from a coach years ago which was “Stay the hell off Twitter.”

It makes us all smile but there is truth in what the coach said to the young hockey player.

Great Physician’s retreat from the noise. They turn down, not off, the volume of opinions. They do a self-reflective autopsy on their own goals that may result in them finding their own path to success and career satisfaction.

These great Physician’s have left lanterns for some of us to follow.It’s no

I don’t know who said it but years ago I remember hearing a radio realtor host saying “Great leaders cut the trail and send back road maps for others to follow.”

I love that metaphorical mind picture about leadership. I think it is so relevant FOR Doctors!

Here are two things we’ve learned happy Doctors do:

1. Show Gratitude.

Elisa Boxer, journalist and mindfulness coach wrote an Inc. Life article entitled Home Depot’s CEO Did This 25,000 Times. Science Says You Should Do It Too. Here’s a simple and effective leadership tool that is quickly becoming a lost art.

In an excerpt from the article, Boxer writes … Science confirms it mattered. Studies show that employees who feel appreciated are happier, more engaged, more productive, and more likely to contribute in positive ways. And it’s not just the recipient who benefits. Studies show that people who express appreciation are more optimistic, as well as physically and emotionally healthier. In other words, gratitude stays with those who give it.

© Concierge Medicine Today, LLC. 2022-2023 | Industry Trade Publication | Note: Survey Data Was Organized and Accumulated by Concierge Medicine Today, LLC. From 300+ Random NEW PHYSICIAN SEARCHES Submissions Received Between February 2020 to February 2023.

To further cement the concept of gratitude and how important it is to your own career satisfaction as a Physician, the founder of Chick-fil-a once said “The universal sign that someone needs encouragement is … if they are still breathing.”

I love these sentiments.

In fact, just yesterday I interviewed a Doctor and a large health system marketing executive. One was a Physician-CEO and the other had massive influence among different health systems and hospitals.

I asked them ‘What advice would you give to Doctors at dinner tonight?’

They both echoed (in separate, unrelated interviews by the way) the concept of expressing gratitude to others around them.

Andy Stanley, pastor, author and communicator writes “It’s not enough to feel gratitude; you’ve got to express it. Because unexpressed gratitude communicates ingratitude. Guilt rarely results in positive behavior … but gratitude? Great things flow from the heart of gratitude.”

Three weeks ago I sat down with an RN. She shared her story, journey and experiences working in multiple hospital and healthcare environments and of course, the systems, the process, the people were not very kind.

She noted in our interview that she reached a point in her career where she could continue to be hurt, frustrated and unkind in return.

But she chose the take the road less traveled by her healthcare colleagues and cut a different trail and turned down the volume in her life. I asked her at the end of our interview if at any time in her 25+ years of working with her colleagues, administrators and co-workers, had she ever received a handwritten card or thank you note for her hard work?

She laughed for a minute or two and then replied, “No, never. But I wish they had. It would’ve probably changed everything.”

So you’re takeaway here is … show gratitude to others, even if they don’t deserve it.

Tangibly how we can all do that is today, sit down and write a handwritten note or send a card to a colleague, a team member or a co-worker.


Because great leaders who are also great Doctors understand that serving other well begins and ends with gratitude.

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You and I just never know what people are going through.

Like I always say, “Five words from you carry weight. And five words from you mean more than fifty words about you.”

Showing gratitude is what great, not just good Doctors do. It may just change your mindset and help you overcome your own struggles with career satisfaction as well.

2. Turn down, not off, the volume on the amount of peer-to-peer rants, news and self-talk.

Author Bob Goff in his book Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World writes “Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.”

I love that quote.

More often than not when you and I turn on the radio, the tv or open our feed, the news today is editorialized, on both sides. Neither opinion wants to lose and it seems that the loudest, most outrageous personality or opinion wins the debate. No one likes to be wrong. No one likes to be told what to do. But insisting that you’re always right isn’t a recipe for anything great.

Isn’t it true that great Doctors are so kind and have long careers built on humility.

But how do you do that? It all begins with turning the volume down, not off, to the opinions trying to persuade and get you to agree with them.

In today’s noise-filled culture, with the prevalence of talk, blogs, podcasts and editorial opinion news from what seems like thousands of voices, that keep telling Physicians how terrible the workplace is and how they found new stats to support their opinions and statements over this or that … it’s no wonder why Doctors suffer from burnout, psychological exhaustion, emotional and physical fatigue.

Everywhere you turn you’re being told, sold and talked at by supposed thought leaders and even your peers that lets be honest, they don’t necessarily want you to understand them. They want you to agree with them. Worse, yet, they want you to join them and start throwing mud too.

I appreciate what this author writes, “Who and what you listen to is a reflection of the future version of you.” ~J.H., Author

No great leader, top doctor or Physician-CEO that you and I respect, admire, can learn from or read about their success has ever said “I owe it all to the negativity out there. I want to thank everyone who I complained with that got me to my station in life today. I’m so happy I ranted online about every little detail I hated about my life and took those opportunities to put people down when I disagreed with them. I also want to thank myself for having the courage to post every negative thought that came into my head on social media. I’m so happy to be here and I’m just content with everything now because I finally got the acknowledgement and my way.”

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“My mentor and advisors in medical school told me that I could do more to change healthcare using my skills and ideas by working outside the system versus inside it,” said Dr. P.W., a Physician-CEO we interviewed at Concierge Medicine Today just this week. “Those words changed my life as a Physician. I listened to the right voices and today, decades later, I’m changing the world of healthcare from the outside-in and it’s intelligent and important work.”

We all have voices in side of our heads selling us, informing us and leading us all.

I personally suffer from anxiety. And, a lot of it. I’m an over-thinker. I told my wife just the other day “It’s probably one of my best qualities.”

We both laughed.

Recently my wife and my Doctor said relatively the same thing. That is, ‘Mike, you’ve got to turn the volume of noise and opinion down in your life.’

I agree. And so, I turned off the news station, reprogrammed the car radio, focused on positive and uplifting podcasts, downloaded some audio books I’ve been interested in and started filling the time and the silence with a multitude of better self-talk.

In closing …

We have to remember that there are Physicians out there in the quiet corners of all of our communities out there who are patiently leading their patients, teams and colleagues and found a true joy in the practice of medicine. For some it is in Concierge Medicine. For others it is in surgery. For some it’s in the homes and hospitals. I understand that not everyone has to agree with these characteristics we’ve uncovered that informs what a great Physician leader does and is. But what we can’t argue about anymore are the results they found when they took the path less traveled by turning down, not off, the noise and showing gratitude to others.

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