mat daniel mini logo

Doctors at Work Podcast.

Episode #74

How to build better connections. With Mick Connors

Mat Daniel


Mick Connors and I discuss the importance of interpersonal connections at work. Our careers are busier than ever, but somewhere along the line we have lost the deep personal connections that we used to have with colleagues and patients too. Instead of focusing on the person in front of us, we are focused on processes, electronic systems, and targets. Technological advances are certainly useful, we just need to remember that human relationships matter too. The structures that fostered connections 20 years may not exist, and it is up to us to make sure that we continue to build these connections in the modern technological world. Approaching interaction with humility, respect, and patient focus helps, as does an open mindset focused on growth.

J Michael Connors is an experienced physician leader with a steadfast passion for elevating healthcare through the strategic execution of best practices, especially those rooted in relationship building. He has a proven track record of excelling in clinical, leadership, and financial realms of healthcare. He has specialized expertise in innovation, digital health, organizational structuring, and business acumen, all geared towards steering organizations towards a harmonious blend of financial growth and mission-driven success. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, and read about his ideas here and here.

You can also watch on Production: Shot by Polachek.

Podcast Transcript

Mat: [00:00:00] Welcome to Doctors at Work. My name’s Mat Daniel, and this podcast is about doctors’ careers. It’s part of my mission to help other doctors create successful and meaningful careers. Today, we’re talking about how we can build better connections. Mick Connors and I discussed the importance of interpersonal connections at work.

Our careers are busier than ever, but somewhere along the lines, we have lost the deep connections that we used to have with colleagues and patients too. Instead of focusing on the person in front of us, we focused on processes, electronic systems, and targets. Now technological advances certainly are useful. We just need to remember that human relationships matter too. The structures that fostered those connections 20 years ago in our Careers may no longer exist, and it is up to us to make sure that we continue to build those connections in the modern technological world.

Approaching interactions with humility, respect, and patient focus helps as does an open mindset focused on growth. [00:01:00] Welcome, Mick. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Mick: Yeah. Thanks for the invitation.

Um, you know, I’m a pediatric emergency physician by training, but really got into medicine based on a brother who passed away before I was born. So I kinda grew up with my mom’s stories about health care and and and those kind of things. So pediatrics, pediatric cancer was what I thought my specialty would be until I got a little too close to that in my training. It was like, hey. I need to go in a different direction.

But, um, so interestingly enough, I guess it’s been a good A good marriage for me because pediatric emergency medicine has allowed me to do a lot of different things in my career, not only clinically, but administratively, uh, business wise, for neuro innovation. So I’ve done emergency medicine. I’ve done pediatric sedation. I’ve, uh, done hospital administration. I’ve started a tech company.

I’ve done Kinda a little bit of everything, but, you know, kind of the core theme is how do you get better care for kids. So pediatrics and and that has always been my passion. Although, You know, you’re able to jump around these days [00:02:00] and do a little different things and and kinda make an impact, um, kinda how it meets meets your needs and meets, hopefully, those of the patient’s needs as well.

Mat: And what what’s a great example of of a varied career that all hangs around the common theme but that that that is kind of approached from many different angles. Great example.

So to today, we’re talking about the importance of relationships at work. So tell me, why are relationships at work important?

Mick: Yeah. I think I think, um, you know, I’ve been at this for 30 years, and it’s really been quite the evolution. Um, you know, when I started in the emergency department, We knew or even in training, uh, in Cincinnati, we knew all the local pediatricians that came and rounded on their patients.

They taught us their perspective. They taught us about their patients, what they knew about them, really impacted our care delivery, how we ordered things, how we followed up with them. Um, and then certainly, we had our our specialty attending physicians around as well. We had a medical staff lounge. We had interactions.

We had lunches where [00:03:00] we learned. Uh, we had all those kind of things where we sat together, um, and maybe, uh, our pagers would go off now and then. But for the most part, there weren’t smartphones or cell phones that, You know, we were all kind of interacting and learning from each other and talking about things, including, you know, the nursing staff And the registration folks, you know, we’re on paper, so it was very hard to you know, it was very easy to lose things. So, you know, you pretty much had to rely on handing them off, Communicating, getting feedback, and making sure things got done and and and also allowed that exchange, that input between the nurse and yourself to say, You sure, doc, this is what you wanna do, especially as a young resident or an intern? Uh, and the power of of all those relationships really Was quite powerful.

Um, so I think that was that was pretty interesting to where you fast forward now 30 years and, you You know, we have the electronic medical record, and we do electronic ordering, and we might know the nurses. We might not. We might not even interact with them. You know, they carry out the [00:04:00] orders electronically. We don’t really interact.

The physician all the community pediatricians, at least over here in the US, have kinda moved into Often to their general practice and kind of their silo, we now have ER physicians, hospitalist physicians, Especially physicians, we, you know, send discharge papers via fax. Right? We have all these different modalities where it’s more of that assembly line kind of operation of medicine Without a whole lot of attachment along the way. Um, so I think that’s been a big difference. And there’s very few, uh, Uh, relationships among medical staff, among our nurses that that I used to value and used to be a key part of of what I did as as we’ve kinda got more technology, Try to move faster, try to be more efficient, but at the same time, we lose some of that personal touch, um, as well.

So I think I think the relationships are a big piece. I

Mat: I have to say, I think that totally resonates with me, and and and I suspect it’ll resonate with anybody who’s who’s been in medicine for [00:05:00] more than 10 years or so because, you know, we will all remember the days when we did all used to go out and, You know, there was the mess, and we all used to have pizza together. Um, and you you you knew people on first name terms. You knew each other as human beings. And, um, And for for me, it’s it’s it’s very surprising.

We have, um, uh, that there’s been an awful lot of strikes in the UK, and and I’ve ended up covering some of the Some of the early career doctor shift on the strikes, and and I was scandalized by by how people interact with each other, um, as in as in yeah. I mean, I’m gonna say I’ve been bullied. Yeah. So yeah. Honestly, I’ve been bullied.

And, you know, and I’m a I’m a 50 year old, you know, white male consultant, and I’ve been bullied sort of when when I was in that role of of a frontline doctor. And and, Yeah. And, actually, that that that is that is the correct word to describe it. Yeah. Yeah.

And and just no no relationship [00:06:00] at all. So,

Mick: Yeah. The doctor on doctor bullying relationships has really kinda taken a back seat, unfortunately. You know, we’ll consult surgeons in the emergency department, and they’ll never come and talk to us about the patient. They’ll say, you know, if you call them, they’re like, why are you calling me?

Just read my note. But it’s like, You know, hey. What what what happened to that interaction of my perspective, your perspective? Maybe that maybe we can maybe the truth somewhere in the middle. I think we’re losing some of those connections that are so Able.

Um, and I think it’s the reason we burn out. Right? If we’re just automatons and we have our own silo and we live in that 1 place, and, uh, our reaction to someone who disagrees with Us is to shame them or bully them or to not really listen to understand their perspective. We all lose. Right?

Patients, Uh, on on on on and on from patients to providers to clinicians to, you know, whatever it is without those relationships In between, there’s a there’s a lot in those relationships that drive quality, best practice, [00:07:00] and and making sure we’re on the right page and everybody’s It’s aligned, uh, that I think we’re missing out on. But what’s the

Mat: real what’s the what’s the relationship between good staff relationships and patient care?

Mick: Yeah. Well, I think, you know, I do locums. I told you.

I do travel doctoring over here, so I I go to different places. But you can pretty much pick on Pick up pretty quickly a good relationship with your nursing staff in that respect and that ability of a trained nursing staff and experience, which It’s becoming more rare that they’ll they’ll speak up. They’ll bring patients to you. They’ll say, hey. Check out the skid.

He’s sick? Or, you know, those kind of things. And that interaction where They feel comfortable saying things to the physician, I think, has become more distant, um, and physicians being more receptive to the other folks on the team. Like, how do we build that team leadership? We all know we’re super busy.

We all know we’ve added, you know, quote, unquote, layers of Staffing. Right? But at the end of the day, kind of the team has gotten bigger, but we we operate less like a team, right, at the [00:08:00] same time, which I think is where some of that breaking point is To what you describe, you know, if a medical assistant or a nurse or a physician can’t question or can’t ask or can’t, You know, feel comfortable with in some kind of relationship. Um, it’s tough, and it’s the same for patients. You know, as an ER physician, my job is to make a relationship within a within a few minutes Mhmm.

So that they trust me and can feel they are comforted. So finding a way to do that is kind of the skill of emergency See, Madison, but I think even more, we have to find that among our colleagues and our and our staff, whether we’re surgeons, physicians, Nurse practitioners, nurses, you know, those kind of things. Kind of that mutual respect and relationship is really needed.

Mat: Mhmm. So how how do you because you travel a lot and all you all the time, I’m guessing, you’re forming new relationships with patients and with colleagues, and that really matters.

So what what would be your tips for for for somebody who really wanted to build really good relationships

Mick: quickly. Yeah. I think [00:09:00] it comes down just like probably we’ve all learned as as a Position starts with humility. Right? And it starts with listening, and it starts, uh, with being open to other people’s ideas.

I think that’s Probably the other thing I’ve learned the most about traveling is is when you train in 1 place and you train in 1 specialty and you become super specialized, you kinda get these blinders on that This is how we do things. Right? Or this is the tradition of how we’ve always done things. And so the beauty of traveling is is you find people that Think the same way, but are doing you know, and and think they’re right and think they’re right on and think they’re doing everything right. And you come to them and say, Well, actually, in the last 5 hospital I’ve done, we’ve done all these things a little bit differently, and we’ve approached them a little differently, whether it’s from a workflow standpoint, whether it’s from a Clinical guideline, whether it’s from, you know, how we care for patients.

So I think we need more of that, uh, what I call gray. Right? We we all tend to be black and white. We’re right or wrong. Or in the US, you know, politically, we’re red and we’re blue.

[00:10:00] But in in reality, I think, Uh, what relationships really teach you and the more experience you get is the gray. Right? Trying to find the gray in everything, realizing that you have the humility to say, Maybe my way isn’t the highway or the right way. Maybe there’s something I can learn at each and every interaction. I think it is the most important.

And I think that’s the same that patients are looking for. I know myself as a patient, I don’t wanna walk into the doctor and say, well, this is the only way I do these things. I want them to say, Well, this this is my experience. And over the years, this is what’s worked most of the time or what might work or in your situation based on everything. Right?

So It’s it’s it’s to me, it’s trying to drive, uh, to that. So as I travel, I I try to be open With new ways, new thoughts, uh, create those interactions, be be human, uh, be approachable, be, uh, personable. You know, everything that Everything that we want out of other people, we should expect out of ourselves. Right?

Mat: And how how does [00:11:00] somebody move from that right or wrong way of thinking to something that’s much grayer.

How does that move happen?

Mick: Yeah. I think for me, it’s really been, uh, An evolution probably over time. I know you do some leadership training as well. But to me, it’s kinda moving from that fixed mindset that most of us in medicine are that, you know, this is how I’ve trained.

This is how we do things at at NYU or at Harvard or at Cincinnati. You know, this is kinda how we do things to more of that growth mindset where you’re kinda open to, Hey. How do you do something? How is it in the UK? Like, do we train the same way?

Like, our outcome’s the same. Like, maybe you can teach me something, Uh, here today as opposed to kinda getting stuck in that. So a lot of it’s the growth mindset, and that really takes the emotional intelligence, I think, to be able to To not only take, oh, yes, sir. Yes. You’re right.

Oh, yeah. What you said is right, but I don’t know if I think that way. And being able to have that emotional intelligence not get upset or angry or frustrated, you know, even with a patient who says, hey. I really want that [00:12:00] CAT scan. Well, let’s really talk about why I don’t wanna do that CAT scan or understand why you really want that CAT scan.

Oh, yeah. Now that I talked to you, you you had a child 5 years ago that had a brain tumor that was missed. Like, That’s a different discussion than, hey. I just want a CAT scan because, you know, I read on Google that I CAT scan and I can educate. You know what I mean?

So There’s so much in the complexity of that relationship and that trust that really requires a little deeper dive than oftentimes that we’re willing to do For fear probably of having something uncovered that we don’t really understand or don’t wanna understand, or it’s quicker just to move forward. Right? So I I think it’s That growth mindset, that humility, but that emotional intelligence to to sometimes recognize you might be wrong or you might be biased or, You know, you might have confounding variables that are leading you down the wrong path.

Mat: And there’s something there I’m hearing about, um, about people’s egos and people’s identity and how they see [00:13:00] themselves as somebody who’s perfect and right, um, but and and contrasting that with everyday interaction of as you’ve outlined humility and and focus on what what can I learn today, you know, what there is out there, you know, of having having your eyes open rather than, you know, those blinkers? And and, unfortunately, I think much much of our training, We’re specifically trained in those blinkers because, you know, there’s the right way.

There’s this treatment. There’s this guideline. So the the our our world is full of how we should treat a particular condition, and and that’s fine for some conditions, but an awful lot of the world isn’t like that. You know, this is how you treat heart attack or this is how you treat diabetes. And, you know, that that that that encourages us to think that everything in the world can be reduced to this is how you should do a certain

Mick: thing.

Yeah. I mean, you you and I have seen you know, I’ve been around long enough that the algorithm is is right a lot of the time, But a lot of people don’t follow the textbook. Right? They they [00:14:00] haven’t read the they haven’t read the algorithm, but they have a curveball. There’s something different about this you this particular Case even though I did everything right, everything the same, you know, in 1 patient, I do the same thing to the next patient.

And for some reason, it doesn’t work or it works adversely. Right. So the human DNA and the human genome is just not, uh, is not wired like an airplane or a widget. Right? And there’s then you have the, uh, the emotional side, the psychiatric side, the, you know, the that side of medicine that adds so much As we know.

Right? Even physiologically and, uh, hormonally to kinda how you respond to stress and Another thing. So it’s just a lot more complex than anybody wants you to wants you to really believe that, you know, it’s kinda like the discussions around AI or algorithms or Clinical guidelines. Yeah. Those are great.

Those could help. I’m not I’m not opposed to those. Like, I I’m happy to have that alongside me, but at the same time, There’s there’s some of that gray in there that’s not gonna show [00:15:00] up on chat GPT. That’s that’s not gonna cut Cut through the chase here of why this patient is different than the than the others. Um, so as you know I mean, in pediatrics, we we don’t have a lot of patients that in and tell us what’s wrong.

Uh, we have a lot that are crying and nonverbal that, uh, you’re kind of sleuthing things through. And And I think there is a bit of that, uh, over the course of your career. You realize that training and experience means something over and above just, uh, You know, the person fresh out of residency or or training that, uh, is ready to roll.

Mat: So we we talked a little bit about the individual health care professionals’ mindset and, you know, this idea of being open and being curious and humility and and learning. Um, but we started off talking about how we we work in systems that that in many ways work against the creation of connections.

So how can we how can we change the system or how can [00:16:00] we compensate for the fact that we work in a system? I mean, the system, all of those electronic things, that that there’s stuff that’s good about them, but the cost is we’ve lost connection. So how can we how can we revise that, or how can we compensate for what we’ve lost? Yeah.

Mick: I I think I don’t know.

My my my, you know, opinion editorial on this is is the first thing we need to do is realize We too are part of the system. Right? I mean, I think I hear a lot from physicians and even nurses that I work with that, well, it’s This guy’s fault or that gal’s fault or the system. Right? It’s the system.

I was like, well, wait a minute. Like, I think we’re part of that system. I think we used to have a voice in the system. I think we used to, you know, interact with the system differently than we do now, which is, at least in the US, is much more handed down from above with people far from the problem, you know, with good intentions trying to solve our problems. But in reality, The problems have to be sound, you know, really resolved, you know, at the [00:17:00] grassroots on the ground floor and move their way up.

So some of it’s mindset from a leadership fact that but the other thing I think is and I think probably what you’re seeing in the UK, I don’t know the details around, uh, the unions and the and the striking and Things like that is a little bit of a need for some grassroots to say, hey. Wait a minute. This this really isn’t working, and this is why my, you know, my patient’s Existence and my existence is suffering, um, because we need to take back some of the things that are being part of the that are, You know, that are part of the system, but that we potentially can have control over. I

Mat: hope you’re enjoying the show. Please click subscribe so you’ll be to find when new episodes become available.

This podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. You can be part of that mission too by forwarding this show to 1 person who you think might benefit from listening. Thank you. Now on with the show.

Mick: I think for [00:18:00] me, it’s it it can be overwhelming with the whole system kinda crashing down around you.

But 1 of the things I’ve tried to do consciously as a As a clinician is to just go see the patient. Um, I don’t brag in the electronics. I don’t brag in the computer. Um, you know, I go I walk in that exam room and close the Or and inside that room is me, the patient, the parent. There’s no administrators.

There’s no EHR. There’s no, you know, outside noise. It’s like Really trying to sit down, focus in on being the best clinician I can, which means listening and doing those kind of things. And that’s added some longevity to my career because, certainly, when you come out, It’s pretty easy to go down, uh, what I call the rabbit hole of this is wrong and that is wrong and everything is wrong and the world is ending and right? It’s easy for us Clinicians to kinda drag in there.

And and if we continue to put the patient at the center and if we fight for the patient, uh, I think we’ll find ourselves, you know, impacting the System far better than fighting for ourselves, um, but we need to. We need to speak up. We need to come [00:19:00] together. We need to voice our concerns and our ideas and And ways that we can turn around our own burnout and our own problems within the system. Right?

Globally, it seems like everybody is struggling. This isn’t a US problem or a UK problem. This seems to be everywhere. And so there’s there’s something that we’re missing. And, again, I think We’ve kinda lost sight of that patient centered care and those relationships with the patient, um, and and thought more about revenue or profit or Systemization or assembly line or super specialization that is kinda impacting, I think, all of our happiness And our patient outcomes and our self worth and what we’re doing and and our why of why we started this whole thing in the first place.


Mat: I’m interested in this, um, blaming the system and and a term a term that I quite like is helplessness. You know, we’re all helpless. There’s this that this system and will help we are helpless in the [00:20:00] face of the system. So, um, and and, of course, The reality is that, you know, we we’re not helpless at all.

You know, there’s lot there’s lots of there’s lots of things. Maybe we can’t we can’t I can’t single handedly change the whole of NHS, but but I can single handedly change my environment around me or or or at least give it some quite strong nudges, you know, if Yeah. That’s exactly. I’m I’m I’m interested in your because you said that, you know, we say it’s the system and the system isn’t me, but, you know, what you’re saying, is that that you and I are the system. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

Mick: Yeah. I think we’re all part of this. I think the first you know, I don’t know. It’s, You know, isn’t the first thing kind of, uh, saying you have a problem? Right?

Maybe I’m part of the problem. Right? If you if you start there, then you might roll back. Okay. How do I treat The nurses, how do I treat my patients?

How do I you know, what what am I doing that could interact differently even within the system? Like, I don’t do all the click boxes in the EHR. I dictate my note. Um, you know, I I do things [00:21:00] consciously to ensure that the patient comes first, Treating the patient comes first and then work my way kind of backwards as opposed to feeling like I need to dictate the perfect note or click all Perfect boxes or do all the perfect things. Right?

So sometimes there’s a little bit of, uh, what I call disobedience. Right? Because we’ve been trade in, Hey. You gotta do this, and you gotta do that, and you gotta do the next thing. And and there’s actually some some room for us to be disobedient if we can put the patient first and put Kind of that care first.

Right? There’s some things that we are required to do that just aren’t helpful or that we’re asked to do perfectly that really that perfect isn’t Helpful to anyone. Right? And and I’m I’m not saying cutting corners or workarounds. We get plenty of that.

Right? Uh, it’s more about, you know, In each step of the way, if the if you put the patient centered first, then I think we collectively, as, you know, How you and I if I call you and say I’ve got a consult for you, how do you interact with that ER physician? Right? Are you grumpy? Are you [00:22:00] mad at me?

Are you yelling at me because I, like, woke you up at 2 in the morning or you’re like, man, this guy’s up working and trying to keep me asleep and doing his best, and he’s at his wit wit’s end, And he’s stuck trying to figure out a complex problem, and he’s calling me because I have that expertise. And so we’re working together on it as opposed to, I’ve got this mindset that the ER is the worst, and they call me all the time, and, you know, they don’t know anything. Right? I mean, there’s there’s it goes back to some of the psyche, I think, and the and the and the Things where we can we put the patient first and put each other first, I think we’d solve a lot of problems. Right?

I mean, if the ENT doc didn’t see the ER doc as a nemesis, Which becomes more and more of it, like, oh, you’re making me work. You’re making me get up. It’s like, hey. We’re here for each other. I I think, you know, our whole system of how we interact with each other and our patients might change.

Right? If I consult with a surgeon, they come and say, hey. We saw We saw Johnny appreciate your perspective, but we think this, that’d be a heck of a lot more helpful than I don’t know why [00:23:00] you called me this is a nothing. Right? Like, The demeaning the other physician or vice versa, which is a lot of what we face, um, you know, in kind of the Our approach and and vice versa.

Right? I’m sure we’re not the nicest to to the upside there. But, you know, how we treat our patients, how we treat your other would be a great start to kinda Reorganizing our system around taking care of each other as opposed to we’re we’re kind of trained in being obedient And dominating and competing and, um, you know, doing those kind of behaviors that aren’t helping any of us. The

Mat: the The idea of being a little bit disobedient and and doing what the patient needs rather than rather than what what, um, you know, what what the hospital says you should be doing or what your colleagues said that she you should be doing. Is is that something that happens with seniority?

I’m wondering how I’m wondering how, uh, an intern would be able to to do that. Is that something that you [00:24:00] and I have the luxury of doing because

Mick: we don’t Yeah. No. I I think it’s I think I think what we have to teach is is kind of the The congeniality of no. Right?

Like, we never learned no in medicine. Right? And when’s the last time you said no? I mean, when I did when I left the ER and I did pediatric sedation, um, Um, where we help kids lie still for MRIs and LPs and kind of mini anesthesia essentially because there was a gap there that we needed to fill Where kids are either getting pinned down or those kind of things. The the main thing I had to teach the ER physicians is we had all the clinical skills, but We had to know when to say no.

Like, no. It’s not safe for us to do this, or no. This patient doesn’t need this or doesn’t need that. Right? So It’s it’s pretty interesting because as I think about medical training, there’s very little time where we say, no.

Like, No. Like, you know what I mean? It’s all yes and yes, sir and yes, ma’am and yes, doctor. And and so there is a little bit of time. I I was just recently in a role where, You know, I was instructed that part of my job was [00:25:00] to to ensure that all the physicians typed on the EHR in front of the Patients.

Like, there was no room from the higher ups that in order to drive our efficiency, everybody had to do their electronic medical record while they were seeing the patient. And that’s where it’s like, man, how do we not say no to that sometimes? Right? How can how can you really Mandate that down, and why collectively wouldn’t we say, yeah, that’s okay, when we all know that distracts us and it’s it’s not good experience for us. It’s not good experience for the patient.

So how do how do we stop that kind of train? Right? So, um, I think sometimes, you know, we’ve also lost the fact that doing less is sometimes better in medicine. Right? We We’ve kinda got this idea that, you know, whatever the patient wants, we should give them when in reality, sometimes you gotta say no and explain something to them, and they appreciate that, right, as opposed to Just kinda taken on every whim and and whimper.

So there is a little bit of that, um, you know, educated disobedience, And maybe we need to model [00:26:00] it more for the interns and the residents in the sense of no because I’m lazy or no because I wanna go home early or no because I want more money, but, no, because it’s not best for the patients, it’s not best for this clinical interaction. You know, it’s it’s not it’s not best for these Things where it’s like we should push back a little bit on some of these things that are taking us away from better care. And do

Mat: we do that individually, or do we do that as a profession?

Mick: Well, I don’t I don’t think if we I think for any of these things that we don’t start individually, we can never do it as a profession. Right?

I mean, it really has to come from us. Right? So The way that, uh, I interact with the residents, I hope is is is seen to them as as interactive. And I’m sure I have my bad days and But I hope they never walk away from it like, oh, I’m not gonna pre you know, I’m not gonna present my case to that guy because he’s an old grump. He’s, you know, or he’s mad, or I’m not gonna call that surgeon because he might throw something at me.

Right? So I I think it does come down to and I think it comes back to kind of the old [00:27:00] school Stuff we were talking about where we had an hour lunch to get together in a medical staff lounge. Like, I didn’t know you I I would not only know your name, but I’d know you where you played golf or what What your hobbies were or what your family was like. And and so when we had those interactions in the ER or after hours, it wasn’t like, Who is this person calling me? It’s, hey.

This is my colleague, and and I know he’s not a bad guy. Right? Or he’s not he’s not an idiot or, Right. We had more of that personal connection. And I think from our nursing staff to the frontline staff, sometimes we lose that.

We really gotta it almost takes an extra effort now to get to know people A little bit, and and those relationships are are really important. And I can tell you my satisfaction at work is highly dictated by how others treat me. Right? When I call somebody and they’re super nice, it’s like, man, thanks so much. Like, this just made my day as opposed to when someone is giving me the same opinion but In a different way, and I’m sure patients feel that.

Right? As we burn out, I’m sure we deliver things we can [00:28:00] deliver things very differently. So how do we get back to the mindset of, You’re the most important thing right now. I’m gonna pay attention to you, listen to you, and, uh, and you and we can have that dialogue as opposed to I’m distracted, overwhelmed, burnout, and things like that. I think if we pick up some of those little fruits along the way, so to speak I mean, if we pick up some of those things, we might we We might be able to turn the tide a little bit on some of these things that we’re waiting for others from the top down to to change or or, um, intervene on.

Mat: So I really like, you know, what you said is that that in the past, it would probably be quite easy for for you and I or for physicians in a hospital to have relationships or in an area to have relationship because everything was face to face and, you know, and and we all we probably all lived at the same area, and we all went to same schools, or our children went to same schools, we all played the same goal for tennis club or whatever. So it was very easy to get to know people as individuals. Um, whether the way that we work now, whether that’s [00:29:00] electronic stuff, shift system, the sheer size of of the health care that we work in is the reality is that that that those those interpersonal connections, they do not happen automatically. And the key thing that you said is that that we need to work at

Mick: them. Yeah.

The the Yeah. No. I think absolutely. I mean, once you know, we used to send out Flyers when they introduced a new staff member, uh, used to talk about their hobbies. Right?

We used to get to know them. We’d call them. We’d have a you know, they’d be introduced to the medical staff. So We’ve kinda lost a lot of these things that seem superfluous and time wasters. But in reality, I I kinda wonder.

It’s you know, I kinda joke too because, you know, we we certainly have a huge mental health crisis here, and I was like, man, what if we brought back family dinner? What if everybody in the family put their phones down? And maybe it’s once a week, maybe it’s twice a week. We all sat around and ate ate ate supper or dinner together. And how would the mental health crisis be impacted if Families got to know each other, and we weren’t all doing 6 [00:30:00] sports and 2 jobs and, you know, on the Internet half the time.

You know what I mean? Like, To me, there is a little opportunity for us to slow down before we speed up or, you know, we’re just moving so fast all the time. I think we’re losing some of these Really important pieces that don’t pay us, don’t you know, they’re loss leaders. They don’t move the needle. Like, I can’t see patients faster, but, Man, my satisfaction is waning and and my patients are are not happy and I’m happy and my nurses are leaving.

You know, it it you know, if you have that team, you have that environment, you have that family feel, it was pretty nice back then. Right? And it wasn’t always about This great case or that great case is really like, hey. You know, thanks for your help on that case. You know?

I really needed your help on that foreign body in the In the ear, and I couldn’t get it. And the kid was screaming and, you know, you’re a peds ENT and you helped me out. That was cool. Right? Like, I I miss some of those things.


Mat: And, um, [00:31:00] the the I’m I’m smiling because because my, um, my hospital has organized a, um, a a consultant’s dinner, um, and, um, I’m really looking forward to it. And there there there’s a thousand consultants that work in my hospital, and, of course, then there’s nonconsultants as well. So I don’t know how many people are gonna go for dinner, but, um, I’m looking forward to it because it’s probably gonna be certainly I mean, the first time in in over 10 years where where anything like that has been more easier. Whereas when I started, you know, Friday afternoon always used to be nonclinical.

Nobody did clinical work apart from the emergency people on Friday afternoon, and, you know, when everybody went to to to the mass or or whatever else or or educational activities or whatever it was. Yeah. You always You always saw people face to face, and you had coffee. And, um, and a lot of certainly, I don’t know about yours, but a lot of our meetings are all now online. So, So, you know, you come online, you talk business, business, business, business, [00:32:00] business, and then you disappear.

Whereas, you know, in the past, you’d have gone online, then you would have had a lunch break and 2 tea breaks, and you you chat, you get to know people, which is all the all the stuff that you talked about so that, you know, when you do then end up phoning each other at 2 o’clock in the morning or whatever it is, You know, it’s fine because I remember you, you know, like, last month, we chatted over coffee. You’re a normal human being. So who who knew? Yeah. So and

Mick: and Yeah.

It’s kinda like the social media. You know, the bullying you’ve experienced, the bullying I’ve experienced, it’s it’s often distant without a name and it’s Or if it is a name, it’s ego and pride and you don’t really understand, you know, the the pain and suffering you’re inflicted on somebody because you don’t have any attachment to them. Whereas If you have to see that person again, you might treat them, you know, might treat them differently, and you might receive it differently, right, as opposed to, well, that guy’s just Jerk. Right? So I do think we we have to get back.

I’m glad they’re organizing some of those things. And, you know, there there’s there’s subtle [00:33:00] ways, Um, that really could help, that really could just be, you know, more than pushing around a cart of candy, which is typically what folks do in our hospital to, You know, build camaraderie. It’s like, man, just cover the ER for 30 minutes. Let us all sit in a room and, you know, say hi to each other. It’s like, that would be far more, uh, far far more beneficial.

But, um, hopefully, you know, to the to your question, I think you and I can start, um, and the next person can start when they have that same feeling from somebody else. And it’s kind of that grassroots of, hey. Let’s just let’s Let’s try for a day to treat everybody like we wanna be treated and see how it goes.

Mat: Yeah. 1 of the challenge with with those social things that that that I’m finding is that that let’s sort of say, you know, Somebody organized, whether it’s me or somebody else or whoever, somebody organizes something social, and people just don’t turn up.

Yeah. And and and and I [00:34:00] I get that, you know, people are tired. They’re burnt out. They’ve got lots of stuff on, and they kinda say of of everything that I need to do, You know, I’ve got so much work to do. Why would I go and have lunch with Mick?

Yeah. You know, I have so many things to do. You know, having lunch with Mick is the is the last sort of my many, many things that I need to do. So what, you know, what would you and I sort of have to say to somebody? You know?

Okay. I know you’re busy, and I know you’ve got all of those things, but but come and have lunch with me. Um, so how do how do we persuade people?

Mick: I think it’s a good question. I mean, I think if you and I looked at it and Went backwards and said, okay.

Here’s all the things that I am told I have to do. Right? Maybe some of this is disobedience. Right? These are all the things I’m told I have To do, but if I prioritize the things that were most important to me, what would I do?

Right? Would I spend an hour on charts, or Or would I go have lunch with you? Right? If you and I could create a relationship that then spawn more discussion around pediatric ENT and the ER working more Closely together, you know, that might [00:35:00] pay off a lot more than doing my charts for an hour. Right?

And maybe I do those while I’m on shift or, you know, Uh, I’m working at other times, but I think I think 1 of the challenges and I think you and I mentioned this before we came online. Like, a lot of options is great, but a lot of options also is challenging. And right now, we have so many distractions in our life and so many other things that we could be doing. I often wonder times how many times And Dhritj Bas, myself included, really sit down and say, what’s really important right now that I need to get done? Or what’s most important to make me happier?

Uh, or how can I turn around my burnout or my depression or my anxiety? You know, is it working harder? Is it taking a hike? Or is it getting to know my Colleagues a little better or, you know, um, that’s that’s always a good question. Right?

Like, I I do think we’ve we’ve kinda kept busy And feel like the more busy we are, the more busy we can become and the happier it is in distracting us from how unhappy we are until we’re profoundly unhappy. [00:36:00] Right. So It’s that

Mat: pausing, you know, thinking what what is it that really matters and and investing in the future. Your future, my future, our future, our patients’

Mick: future. I’m a big college football fan.

College football over here, obviously, is It’s a a different object than your football, but it’s, uh, you know, there’s a coach that, uh, that’s famous over here called Lou Holtz, and, uh, his his line is always, You know, what’s it take to win? Um, and win for him is what’s important now. Um, so what’s, you know, what’s important at this very moment, whether we’re taking care of patient, interacting with each other. Um, or his great analogy is he’s, you know, he’s a high paid, you know, successful football coach, but he was on a rafting trip And, uh, went out of the raft, you know, whitewater rafting, went underneath it. And he’s like, what’s important?

And it was getting out of underneath that raft. Right? And And I think as physicians, sometimes we’re underneath that raft, and and we’re still swimming and doing [00:37:00] all those other things as opposed to, like, Yeah. Maybe we could just hop up and hang out to you know, maybe 1 of my buddies will pull me up, and and we can, uh, do this differently next time. But, Yeah.

I I think, um, I think with our you know, as you age, you kinda you have to model some of that for the younger residents. Uh, we have to do a better job of that, Uh, for sure. But I I’m hopeful that, you know, individually, as we have more discussions about burnout and frustrations in the system, that That we start to take some accountability ourselves, um, and some easy actions, some quick wins that that we could easily do by just Treating each other better, the nurses better, and, you know, the residents and our patients better. I think I I come away much happier, um, You know, with a good good interaction than I do if somebody’s, you know, not nice. And, hopefully, it’s not me being not nice.


Mat: Okay. Um, I’ll maybe bring us to a close, Mick, and maybe if I could ask you in relation to this topic, what would be your top [00:38:00] tips then?

Mick: Yeah. I I would, uh, I would, uh, you know, I think the most important thing I I’m trying to do maybe personally is listen.

Right? Like, having interactions like this and not coming to you with, hey. This is how I think things should work. But Maybe the first question should be, how do you think things should work, uh, as we interact with folks? Or how could I be a better physician for you as A patient, I gotta be a better physician for you as a nurse.

Um, you know, maybe we maybe if we slow down and ask kinda got a little more perspective from others on our own behaviors, Uh, maybe we could do that. So I’m hoping that we can kinda slow down, listen, but also take our accountability that, you know, The system isn’t some nebulous thing. We’re all part of it. And we have we have ours we have our say in how we treat people and how we interact with each other.

Mat: Wonderful.

That’s a great tip. Thank you very much, Mick.

Mick: Alright. Thanks. Thanks for your time.

Appreciate it.[00:39:00]

Share the knowledge

If you have any questions about anything in this article or about coaching, please don’t hesitate toget in touch.