EP 40: What Does it Look Like to Be a Hero for Yourself?

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Episode Description:
While well-meaning, the healthcare hero label can be damaging because it places unrealistic expectations on healthcare professionals. In taking care of others, we often forget to care for ourselves. So, what would it look like if you were a hero for yourself? This episode features Dr. Sogol, a board-certified pediatrician and mindfulness coach. She achieved all of her goals yet realized something was missing from life: herself. She shares her story of learning to prioritize herself and finding joy. We discuss the importance of self-care and focusing on wellness to help with mental health and combat burnout.

Connect with our guest, Dr. Sogol
Website: https://www.drsogol.com/

Transcript:
[00:00:00] Dr. JB: Welcome to Hope4Med.

[00:00:03] Welcome to the Hope4Med podcast, I’m Dr. JB, your host and today’s featured guest is Dr. Sogol. She is a board-certified pediatrician and founder of ABC Pediatric Clinic. She lives in Houston, Texas. Welcome!

[00:00:21] Dr. Sogol: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited and honored to be on your podcast and congratulations for your one year anniversary, then so huge!

[00:00:32] Dr. JB: Thank you so very much. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. So let us start from the beginning. I love hearing about stories of what led you into a career in healthcare as a physician, so please share.

[00:00:48] Dr. Sogol: Yeah. So I, I’m going to start at the beginning beginning, because it’s significant for kind of my life story. I immigrated to the US at the age of 10, so I was in fourth grade, so I am a first-generation immigrant, and we came to Houston and we settled in Houston, I’ve been in Houston for what? 30 years!

[00:01:08] Dr. JB: Went by in a blink of an eye, I’m sure.

[00:01:12] Dr. Sogol: So I’m from Iran, I’m from the middle east, so literally I joke about there are three career choices that you get to pick from when you’re from the middle east, one is physician, one is a lawyer, and the other one is engineer. And so that is just culturally, that’s what I grew up with and I was, initially I knew I did not want to do engineering cause I wasn’t that good in math and I thought that engineers just sat behind the computer and typed, and I was like, no, I have to talk to people. And so I was like, oh, I think I’m going to be a lawyer. And then I got into high school and I started, I didn’t like reading. I didn’t like writing, I read like all the Cliff Notes in my literature class and I was like, okay, we cross out lawyer, so I guess there’s this thing called science. Yeah, like I kinda like science, biology, physics wasn’t my best, so it’s like by default I just chose to be a physician. And going through, I did the whole med school, I stayed in, in Texas, I went up to Teague, came back down, but still in Texas.

[00:02:09] And then I chose, I narrowed my options down to pediatrics and one of the biggest reasons I did that because I went to med school at Baylor, and Baylor is contracted with Texas Children’s Hospital, which is one of the lar-, one of the top three, four, whatever largest hospitals, children’s hospital, and back then that when we were in med school and half of our residency– and people that are listening that are pediatricians ore in the pediatric field– Dr. Feigin, Ralph Feigin, which is you have your textbook of emergency medicine and we have our textbook of pediatrics, the textbook is called Cherry and Feigin because Dr. Feigin wrote half of the textbook, so he was a huge name in pediatrics. So he recruited a lot of the pediatric resident, he recruited a lot of the med students from Baylor into the pediatric residency program, and so I didn’t even like interview. It was called the golden handshake, like if you wanted, if you knew that you wanted to do pediatrics, you went to his office and like you had a conversation like a very casual one, hey, how are you, doc? And then he would be like, okay, great, and he’d give you a handshake and that was it.

[00:03:18] Dr. JB: Wow. That’s awesome.

[00:03:21] Dr. Sogol: Yeah! Yeah, so that’s how, so then I did three years of pediatric residency at Baylor and I was actually supposed to, so I always loved emergency medicine or ICU, I don’t know if that was like something– I feel like a lot of ER doctors toggle between do I want to do ICU? Do I want it to ER? Because it’s very procedure based– so anyways, I decided I wanted to do, uh, apply for PICU fellowship, pediatric ICU fellowship. And I went through the entire process and I matched at UCLA, and then I got pregnant in my third year and I had my baby, I graduated in July, June, July, whenever you graduated, and then I had my first child in August. And so I called the fellowship program and I was like, oh, can I start three months later? And so they’re like, yeah, start October.

[00:04:15] And then we started, so moving from Texas to LA, it’s very different, it’s much more expensive. My husband is not a physician, he’s an attorney so he took the freaking bar and he passed it, poor thing. And then I panicked by the time we were supposed to start, I was like, wait a minute, I have this three month old, I have zero family in LA, what are we doing? It’s so expensive. You, your job isn’t as great as the job that you got here. And I got a call from Dr. Feigin on my personal cell phone, asking me why– he was really nice, he just, like cause they had called him because it doesn’t look good when your residents back out of the fellowship, especially for Texas Children’s, he goes oh, can you tell me why? And I just told them the truth. And he was like, oh, okay, yeah, I told him, understand it’s family and circumstances, and that was it.

[00:05:02] But it just shows you, for the residents or the med students that are listening to this, or even the fellows that are listening to this, you have a certain path in life, like a plan in life and it just doesn’t sometimes go the way that you have planned and it is completely okay. It’s totally okay. You don’t have to, I had a lot of guilt around that, like I, I had a lot of shame around it, I gave up this position, somebody else could have had it, and I spiraled into thoughts for a while, but I want to tell everyone that whatever happens is meant to happen. And whenever you have that calling within you that says do a certain thing or not do a certain thing, go for it, believe it, don’t sit there and ask a zillion different people what you should do, the answers are all within you and just believe in yourself and trust yourself. And that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in, in life so far.

[00:05:55] So then I was here with a newborn and I took some time off and after the baby was four months, I was like, okay, I need to get out, like I should probably work. I should go be a doctor. Go use my degree. And my sister and I were in the same residency program, we’re a year apart, but we matched together at Baylor at Texas Children’s, so she and I, we approached a private practice that I had actually rotated through as a med student, you could do like internships during the summer, and I got to know her and she was really close to our house, and we were like, hey, can we job share do you have a position for us? And she hired us part time and we would– and she was private practice solo, she ran a great practice, it was a good mix of private pay, self pay, Medicaid patients, and we would have stayed on with her, except that we had some differences in the way that we wanted to manage.

[00:06:47] And so my dad was actually, everybody in our family is, it’s like the American dream. It’s like the immigrants who come here and you have to own everything and do everything by yourself. You want to be ownership of your own, so everybody is self-employed, right? We have dentists that are self– anybody that does whatever job they’re doing, they’re self-employed. So my dad’s, oh, so when are you going to open up your office? And I was like, I’m not. And he’s like, yeah, you should. And anyways, so we had a conversation, we talked to my cousins had their own offices and my cousin leased me the space that he has, and he was like, hey, come in this area, I see a lot of kids and I’m gonna refer to you, open up your clinic. And my sister was like, okay there’s two of us, it’s better than one of us, so we opened up our clinic in a predominantly Hispanic area, underserved out in the outskirts of Houston, and it has been the most rewarding thing. We have grown the practice to about eight providers, over 12,000 patients, yeah. And so it’s, the area needed it. There was a need for really solid pediatricians that really care about that community, and being an immigrant myself, I think that ties very well into the kids that I am serving because a lot of them are first generation or second generation immigrants and they’re minorities and I am a minority. So I did that, I’m still doing that, and about when I was probably 40 years old I kinda hit this wall and I didn’t recognize it as burnout.

[00:08:19] And I don’t know if I still do or I would label it as burnout. I was just tired, like tired, like post call fatigue. And everything that I did, didn’t make a difference. I cut back hours. I went part-time. I slept more. I ate better. I exercise. I took vitamins. I saw zillion different doctors and it was like okay. I just, I literally diagnosed myself. I was like, okay first of all, I thought it was cancer. That’s the first thing. Oh my God, I have leukemia. That’s why I’m tired all the time that. But then I was like, okay, so maybe this is just like chronic fatigue, N O S we don’t know what the heck you have and we just have chronic fatigue or maybe it’s mid-life is how you’re supposed to feel when you’re 40. And I had three kids under the age of, three kids under the age of five and started my own private practice.

[00:09:09] Dr. JB: Wow.

[00:09:11] Dr. Sogol: Yeah, but that’s just how my personality is. I go at 200 miles per hour and my body literally said, no, I don’t do this anymore, here’s what it said. And so I started– and there wasn’t a lot of resources out there, five years ago compared to this days. First for a couple of years, I was like, okay, this is just how midlife is being a mother. And my kids are like preteens and that’s really difficult. And private practices becoming more difficult because you’re fighting with the insurance companies and you’re dealing with the patients and the staff and all that stuff. This is just the way life is.

[00:09:42] And then after two years, I was like, no, I’m not going to believe that. There has to be more like there’s a zillion doctors living out there, I’m not, I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to live like this. I started looking for some answers and I started reading books and I got into a lot of the self developmental area of of reading and reading a lot of that literature and through that, I became familiar or I got introduced to coach some coaches, right? Some online forum with physician coaches. I knew about coaches, but I was like, ehh, I’m very skeptical. And then when I saw that there’s actually like physicians that are coaches. Okay. Maybe maybe I need– cause I didn’t have, cause I was like, maybe I need a therapist. But then I was like, I don’t really have big traumas in my life. Like I wasn’t neglected and I wasn’t poor in a sense and I wasn’t abused. And like I was like, I don’t think I need a therapist. I got my own coach, that was right when COVID. And I always say COVID saved my life. And because I made the decision to prioritize myself for the first time in my life, at the age of 43,

[00:10:50] Dr. JB: So was that because of the coach told you to prioritize yourself, or what?

[00:10:57] Dr. Sogol: No, I think it was, yeah, so no because even. You have to make the first step, the first decision to even hire a coach or whatever the other big decisions is in your life. So that first step comes from something within you. And for me, I think it was just like, I’m so tired of living like this, even though I have an amazing husband, my kids are healthy, they’re, you know, normal kids. They’ve got their ups and downs, but they’re normal kids. My practice is flourishing. Like every checklist I had, everything that I had on my vision board. I want to get married and I want to have a great husband and I want to have awesome kids. And I want to live in this house and I want to have this car and I have to serve the community. All of that I had attained at the age of 40, but I still felt horrible and I couldn’t figure out why I felt horrible, but that’s what really pushed me. I really hit rock bottom to the point that I was. Oh what’s the point? What’s the point of living if I have all these amazing stuff that everybody conditions you and teaches you to live up to, okay, I got there, I got to the top of the hill, the mountain, whatever you want to call it, and I feel like crap.

[00:12:17] And so I made the first decision to hire that coach. And then with the coaching, she led me through a lot of the, a lot of the struggles that I was having and I found out that what I was missing from my life was literally me. Like I was giving so much, as we do as physicians and even during COVID we’re giving even so much more, I was so emotionally depleted, avoiding, and repressing, and buffering my emotions for the past 40 years. Part of it is because that’s just, that was a defense mechanism on my part, like immigrating here, being a minority, not having to take in all those insults, that microaggression that’s towards you, and part of it was just being a physician. Like I can’t take on everybody’s stuff, right? I can’t take on everybody’s plate. But in a sense you do, it’s just you don’t learn to process it and it piles up and up and up. And I think that’s why there’s so many physicians that are at a breaking point with COVID because now that emotional load has accelerated a zillion times, even if we were bearing like a hundred pounds on our shoulders and getting up in the day and striving and going to work and try to make it, now that a hundred pounds load feels like a thousand and our bodies and our minds just can’t tolerate it anymore and we’re just getting–

[00:13:43] Dr. JB: Because we never released, we never had that opportunity to just release.

[00:13:48] Dr. Sogol: Yeah. So I learned to feel, because I literally had not felt for 42 years even though I was a mother, I was a wife, it was like I learned to actually feel it in my body. I learned what my emotions were. I learned to release those, to process those, to face those, to walk through them, instead of no, they’re just going to be over here and I’m just going to keep going like a robot. And then I learned to take care of myself, like for once, I learned to give to myself and that is the biggest message that I want to give your audience out there. It’s like we have been conditioned that taking time for ourselves or resting, God forbid you rested during residency, right? You were like the slacker, if you like, didn’t admit 20 patients and you left the other last two patients for the next shift admit, you were labeled. So resting and taking caring of yourself was a stigma in, in residency, like you’re selfish, you’re lazy, you’re, you’re self-absorbed, you’re a narcissist, like really, you can go really drastic with it, and those are the messages that you’ve been internalizing and that’s been ingrained in your brain.

[00:15:03] So when you, or when residents, you’re in residency, or even when you’re in your regular attending position or your job, and you’re like, I really think I need a day off because of whatever so reason, right? Like I’m burned out the dah, dah, dah, you don’t even allow, like your brain doesn’t even allow yourself to acknowledge that you need that day off. If you allow yourself to acknowledge it, then you’re going to get a lot of pushback from your brain saying what are my colleagues going to think? What is my head of department going to think? What are my patients going to think? What– no, like we need to change the narrative around self-care and just taking the time to rest. Self-care is self preservation. I didn’t have self care for 42 years and I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up my practice. I wanted to like, literally go hide in the woods ’cause I was like, please, everybody just leave me alone. Can I just have some peace and quiet by myself? So I was running away from everything that I had worked so hard to build. Which is what I tell physicians.

[00:16:16] And so what happened is I love coaching. I got coached, it completely changed my life, and then I loved it so much that I became a coach. So I’m now a physician mindfulness coach and I use a lot of the mindfulness techniques with simple things like meditation and breath work and, and just walking in nature and just take journaling, a lot of different tools to be able to go back and connect with myself. And through those tools, I went from being anxious and like super anxious and overwhelmed and stressed, I would wake up in the morning and I would wake up with pal– like I lived with palpitations all the time and it wasn’t my heart. It wasn’t my blood pressure. It was all that emotional neglect, that anxiety, that sadness, that grief, whatever I was carrying that needed to be released, but it was all bunched up in my heart. And that’s how–

[00:17:12] Dr. JB: When you say lived with palpitations all the time, when did you start developing these palpitations?

[00:17:16] Dr. Sogol: Yeah, that’s a good question. So I will say like, I do not– and this is one of the revelations I had– I was like, when I found out that all of this that I was having was anxiety, I was like, I never considered myself an anxious person, like ever, ever. I wasn’t– like I see teenagers now and I know what anxiety looks like in, in your teenagers, or even in the little kids, like I didn’t have chronic abdominal pain. I don’t think I, or maybe I did and I was blocked off, I was so walled off because I was like, I have a mission and I’m going to be a doctor, I’m going to get there, and it doesn’t matter what’s happening around me or what’s inside of me, we just got to go, right there, we’ll finish that. So I initially, I would say I, if I went back to med school, I still wouldn’t feel it. It was probably in the last five years, like around and I really need to sit down, and if I think if I traced it back, it would go back more but for it to be obvious to me, it was the last five years. So I would say around like 38 years old, and then at 40 years old, one of my really good friends suddenly passed away of pulmonary emboli and she was having some like chest pain, and then that freaked me out. I was like, oh my God, maybe I’m having a PE. And that’s why I started paying attention to it more when I saw what things that were happening to close, loved ones.

[00:18:41] And I don’t want people out there, humans out there to get to that point. Like, why do we have to face some sort of tragedy or suffering or pain to actually learn to pause for a second and be like, oh wait, I’m human too. Like the advice that I give my patients, do I take that advice myself? Definitely not, right? And then what the narrative that came out during COVID like healthcare workers are superheroes. I just did a podcast on this and I was like, I’m not, I am, I want to retire my superhero cape. I’m not a superhero actually, I’m like a human, just like you are, right?

[00:19:25] Dr. JB: Just like you. Yeah.

[00:19:27] Dr. Sogol: And those are the conversations that really need to change in medicine, it’s we are, we might be perceived as being strong and yeah, in our work, in that environment, sure, but there’s limits around that as well. If you have no limits– I don’t know if you’ve watched Encanto, that, the Disney movie, oh my God, you have to watch it. Okay, I’m into Disney. So it, there’s a character in there called Louisa. So all the characters have a special gift and Louisa’s gift is to be strong. It like portrays physician so well. And so, she is always taking on everybody’s problems, I’m gonna fix that, I’m going to move that, I’m going to do that. But under the surface, her worth is so dependent on the productivity, what she puts out, who she cares for, what she moves around, that she’s so afraid that if you take her superpower strength away from her, under all that, she’s a nobody, she doesn’t know who she is. She’s weak.

[00:20:38] Dr. JB: Man, you’re speaking the truth, that just makes me want to snap off. No. Man. Okay, go ahead, continue.

[00:20:48] Dr. Sogol: Yeah. So that’s why– if you haven’t seen it, go back and see it, cause it’s just amazing. I was like, who was like the therapist, coach, psychologist behind this? It was so on point, is that we are taking on so much of people and things that you’ve got to learn how to say “no” to them and “yes” to yourself and be at peace with that.

[00:21:16] Dr. JB: Because that’s not what we’re trained to do. We’re trained to be selfless, we’re trained to give give give, retrain to always be available. We’re trained to be team players, that’s what we’re trained to do. What we’re talking about? That’s not part of our training, and that’s, before, for far too long, it was actually looked down upon. What, “no?” What do you mean say “no?” Do you not want your career to, to, prosper? Do you not want to climb the ladder? Do you not want to support your team? What do you mean you need to take some time for yourself? What is that?

[00:21:47] Dr. Sogol: It’s so funny. Yeah. It’s so funny because like when we started hiring physicians, we’re hiring millennials now, ‘ cause like I’m 45, millennials are like in their thirties, whatever. And we, I used to– I will admit to this– I used to have conversations with my sister all the time with like millennials trying to have a life work balance, what is that all about?

[00:22:12] Dr. JB: Yeah, exactly.

[00:22:13] Dr. Sogol: Like they are so lazy, like you don’t go into medicine trying to have a work-life balance.

[00:22:20] Like, oh my god, they were so smart. That should’ve been taught to us, right? Because you want to look at this as long term. You don’t want to run at 200 miles per hour and then like collapse, like I did, after 15 years or 18 years of practice. You want a steady pace, whatever that is, that pace is going to be different for everyone, and you want to be able to make the decision as like, on good terms as to, okay, “when do I want to retire?” Instead of ” I just can’t do this anymore.” It’s like to be forced into retirement because we’re all amazing, like us physicians, we are so amazing and we are resilient and that is fine to be resilient, but again, there are limits around that, right? Pace yourself, like advocate for yourself just as you would advocate for your patients.

[00:23:18] Dr. JB: So question for you about what you said about we are all resilient. What do you mean by that?

[00:23:24] Dr. Sogol: So resilience for me comes from adversity. And so the way I explain it to my kids, cause I’m a pediatrician so I’m always explaining things on a third, fourth grade level, I’m like, you got a C on that test? Amazing! You know what, because now, you know what failure feels like. And the people that face failure, but get back up and they still move along, are the ones that are going to go further in life, are the ones that are going to be resilient. The ones that face failure, and they’re like, oh yeah, no, I got a C, I’m horrible at science, I got a C so that means I can’t be a physicist, I can’t be a scientist, I can’t be a physician, and then they go and pick some other easier route. And so for us physicians, the way that we got to being, going through the MCAT and undergrad and residency and fellowship and people that have moved on to other, and some people are trying to get MBAs and MPHs, and administrative roles, it’s not because we have not had failures, it is because of our failure.

[00:24:45] Dr. JB: Oh, interesting. So what you’re saying is that the road to becoming a healthcare professional, wasn’t smooth sailing, all just close your eyes, relax, you made it. Is that what you’re saying to me right now?

[00:24:58] Dr. Sogol: Right. And you don’t want life to be like that. I literally had this conversation with my son because school comes very easy for him. And whenever he’s faced with a little bit of like resistance, something happens and it’s just not as easy, he retrieves back and I’m like, no, that’s when you lean into it, that’s when you push forward. And those are the times, those particular instances in your life are the times that you are actually going to learn from, you’re going to fail forward. We never, this, the word fail F A I L, is that it is a four letter word, okay, F A I L is literally like the other four-letter word that’s a bad word to us physicians, right? That needs to change as well. And if you go back and you look at your road, whatever road you took, not just like in school, just in life, right? If the adversities that you had in life, if that was like on a financial level, on a socio-economical level, if now on all these bigger scopes, your failures are who made you who you are now, right? A lot of people, a lot of clients that I’ve had have this victim mentality of ” this happened to me when I was a kid” and “this happened to me when I was a kid” and, yes, process through the trauma, work through the trauma, get a therapist, work through all that, but know that you are who you are because of that.

[00:26:33] Dr. JB: So they were you’re stepping stones is what you’re saying

[00:26:36] Dr. Sogol: Yes, they’re stepping stones. Exactly. Stepping stones. You don’t get to–. If you’ve heard of people that are winning the lottery, people that win the lottery, okay, and they get this all millions of dollars, most people that win the lottery end up losing that money.

[00:26:51] Dr. JB: Oh yeah.

[00:26:51] Dr. Sogol: And why is that? It’s because they don’t have the tools to be able to handle the, lots of good things come with winning the lottery, but there’s a lot of other things you have to think about like taxes and this and managing your money and finances, dah, so your adversity that you’ve had are all those tools that you can add to your toolkit. That’s how you can reframe it in your brain, right? If somebody told you “no,” and you wanted a great promotion and they said, “no,” that’s not to say that you shouldn’t go for the promotion again. That’s to say oh, I was told “no,” and that gave me another little tool that I can put in my toolkit, and then the next time someone tells me “no,” it’s not going to sting as much.

[00:27:39] Dr. JB: Along the lines of resiliency do you feel like we need to become more resilient?

[00:27:43] Dr. Sogol: No, I think we need to have more balance in our life because being more resilient is exactly like wearing that superhero cape. Keep doing more, keeping being more, keep giving more. No, we need to have more balance in our life and maybe resiliency needs to balance with like boundaries and self-care, whatever that definition is, cause it’s, I think it’s different for everyone. And one of the big concepts that I really like to teach, can visualize it really well, it’s like up to this point, we have been giving. And when you give, you’re literally take a piece of yourself and you’re like, here you go, here you go, and then you’re left with like crumbs, then you wonder why you feel horrible. So what can we do instead of giving? How can we share? Not give, giving is taking a piece of yourself. You’re actively doing something. It takes energy. You’re taking your energy and giving it to someone else. Sharing is you are filling yourself up first. You are completely whole, grounded, settled, joy, whatever you want to name that, fulfilled, and then passively, that energy just overflows to what’s outside of you. You’re not grinding and pushing and giving. You’re not getting pulled by the force. You’re simply like literally standing there in the room and people can just feed off of your energy because you have so, you’re filled with so much joy and happiness and fulfillment and contentment yourself that now you’re able to radiate it out to everyone else.

[00:29:36] Dr. JB: Again, you are speaking my language. I did a podcast on resiliency, it’s called “Say No to Resiliency,” because exactly what you said is 100% what I believe and agree with, that we are, as healthcare professionals, we are some of the most resilient people on this planet. And so it pains me when I hear, oh, I wasn’t resilient enough after I worked X amount of years in healthcare and then transitioned out, like it pains me, because that’s not true.

[00:30:13] Dr. Sogol: Yeah. And that’s the negative self-talk that we work on a lot during coaching, it’s, let’s say your brain is actually thinking, let’s look at those beliefs that have been ingrained in you by this particular conditioning, whether that’s from your parents or your mentors, or your teachers along the way, and let’s challenge them. Are we really, do we really need to be that resilient? Are you really saying that you’re not resilient?

[00:30:42] Dr. JB: Exactly.

[00:30:43] Dr. Sogol: Like really challenging those like automatic thoughts that everybody’s just like, “oh, they must be true, I’ve been telling myself that for 20 years,” no, it’s not true. Just because your brain tells you something, does not mean there’s truth. All the thoughts that come into your brain are opinions, they’re not the truth. You get to choose which one you want to hang on too and then you get to let go of the ones that you don’t like.

[00:31:06] Dr. JB: Exactly. And having the opportunity and the space to really process that and to let go.

[00:31:14] Dr. Sogol: Yes. And having someone that is completely non-judgemental, right? Cause a lot of people don’t feel comfortable talking through this stuff about your, their colleagues, or even their friends or even their spouses, and being super that, then it brings up the whole vulnerability, which is like a three hour talk.

[00:31:33] Dr. JB: Yeah, right. That’s why Hope4Med was created in the first place, while we are on this topic, was to be able to be that place, because there is this instant connection that you are able to make with your colleagues. So if you talked to me about getting into medical school, going through residency, and all of that, and the day-to-day of being a physician, you don’t have to really explain yourself that much, I have a very good understanding because I too have gone down that same pathway as you have. And sometimes if you’re talking with somebody who is not in healthcare and they look at you and they say, “oh, you’re a doctor, what do you have to complain about? You make XYZ money, you live in this house, you drive this car,” and then it makes you feel like, wait, my feelings, like I shouldn’t be feeling this way. Why am I feeling this way? I have XYZ. And the truth of the matter is that there is a mental health crisis in healthcare amongst healthcare professionals, right?

[00:32:36] And we know about that because we, we hear about it, we see it and we experience it. We live it. And we think about things like suicide amongst healthcare professionals, when we look at our colleague, I think you’d be hard pressed to talk with a healthcare professional who does not know of another, personally or at least second degree of separation, who died by suicide. And then you look at that person and the last time you saw them, yeah, they looked great, they looked like they were fine. Like, I had no idea, and then you get this email. And we need that place where we can really let go, relax, share, be vulnerable. We are human beings with human emotions. I agree with you. We’re no heroes, I’m an emergency medicine physician, I’ll do my best to save your life, but I am not a hero. And to have that location, that’s what Hope4Med is, this third entity that’s not a part of your place of employment, but it’s this place where we can gather as a community, shared experiences.

[00:33:39] Dr. Sogol: And I think this is so important. So you said you’re not a hero. I would say to that, even if your brain doesn’t process that and it’s ” no, we are a hero, remember all the things that they told us we are?”. Okay, then B, how can you be a hero for yourself? Ask your brain that. How can I be a hero for myself? What would being a hero– I know what it looks like if I’m being a hero for patients and administration and parents and kids and spouses, whatever, but how is being a hero, how am I being a hero towards myself?

[00:34:11] Dr. JB: Yeah. What would it look like if I was a hero for myself?

[00:34:16] Dr. Sogol: That’s a very good journaling prompt to do tonight, guys. Mentioned the journaling, but there has been– and so there are now 200 physician coaches that I know of, so there might be more, but three years ago when coaching came into the mainstream, they’re were like 20, and now it’s gone up, like, what is that 10 times?

[00:34:39] Because there’s a huge demand for this. And the number of podcasts and other platforms that come out to support the same, the same endeavors of the whole wellness or self care, however you want to label it, it’s not because we’re like being flaky and we don’t want to be doctors and it’s too hard or whatever people, other people are thinking when they’re skeptical about this, it’s because we want to save lives. It’s a different way of saving a life.

[00:35:12] Dr. JB: Yup. Yup.

[00:35:13] Dr. Sogol: And so that’s why I get so excited about every podcast, every platform that comes out, every physician from every part of the country that recognizes the need for this. There’s never going to be enough of us in this area, right? So I applaud you. It is amazing what you are doing. It is amazing that you’re even going outside the scope of physicians and including our colleagues that we work so closely with and you are definitely saving lives. So keep it going, you’re doing amazing work.

[00:35:52] Dr. JB: Oh, thank you. I figured, when I was thinking about Hope4Med was if I saved, the life of even one, one person matters, right?

[00:36:02] Dr. Sogol: Totally.

[00:36:03] Dr. JB: One person, the ripple effects are infinite in that one person.

[00:36:08] Dr. Sogol: Totally. The ripple, even if I like you doing this, you’re essentially saving yourself because you’re hearing a lot of the stories and through hearing and through storytelling, we actually heal.

[00:36:22] Dr. JB: Yes.

[00:36:22] Dr. Sogol: So for you to just take the time and pause and take that time for yourself and hear someone’s story and connect, like right now, we’re connecting with words, but we’re connecting on a heart to heart level as well. You’re hearing my words. You’re, that’s penetrating through you and it’s going– I don’t want to get too spiritual about it, but it is.

[00:36:45] Dr. JB: It’s reverberating inside of me and all myself. Yes.

[00:36:50] Dr. Sogol: And it’s changing the chemistry, like when you’re hearing me talking, when I’m hearing you talk, I’m not in the sympathetic cortisol, like alert that you work in the emergency room. I get the, ahh, serotonin, and dopamine, and oxytocin, right? Those happy hormones, which we know what happens when you secrete those hormones in your body as physicians. So yes, it’s totally a healing process for all of us.

[00:37:19] Dr. JB: And having space to do that is so important and cause it takes a lot, especially when you’ve been going through so many years of not engaging in these practices, of not letting down your guards a little bit, because part of the training, and that’s why we have to start early with the, start in pre-med and med school, and all those things, because we are taught to be

[00:37:43] Dr. Sogol: Resilient.

[00:37:45] Dr. JB: But not only are we taught to be resilient, we are taught to be competitive, right? And there’s only so many slots available in this medical school or this residency program, and so we’re always competing, so it’s hard to collaborate with somebody, to be vulnerable with somebody when you’re actually competing with them to get their seat. And that process is, it’s limited resources, you understand that, but once you get there, then you know–

[00:38:16] Dr. Sogol: You let down your guards.

[00:38:17] Dr. JB: Exactly, once you finish and you realize that this is a marathon. I went into medicine to practice until I retire at a ripe old age, and once you leave residency, or even during residency, or in fellowship or whatever, you have to have resources to allow you to yes, lay down your guards. Engage in self-care practices, self-care practices need to start much earlier to really combat burnout, I know that when you were describing your experiences and you’re like, I don’t know if I would label it burnt out, I would say yeah, I think you were describing just emotional exhaustion that no amount of sleep could make you feel better. You were exhausted and that is an element of burnout. And the desire to give it all up, you had everything and you’re like, I don’t care, I just want to, I just want to give it all up, that is what happens when you hit that wall and crash.

[00:39:28] Dr. Sogol: Yeah. Yeah, I did. I recently, when you said we need to start earlier, I recently did a talk for pre-med students and they were like, we want you to talk to us about being a pediatrician. I’m not talking to you about being pediatrician, but let me tell you, I’m not talking to you about like my day as being a pediatrician, ’cause you, you know what that is, let me talk to you about how it is in my brain as being a doctor and I, it’s exactly what I talked to them about. I talked to them about how to prevent burnout. I talked to them about stop comparing yourself, the comparison-itis and the judgment-itis, right? Or we talked about self-care. We talked about like, let’s collaborate and sharing and the whole mindset of scarcity versus abundance. And afterwards, I got, I think there was like 30 people on the call, and then I was talking and I was like, oh my God, these kids are totally bored, they don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m probably going to get horrible reviews. And I’m talking to them, and I got three or four people, these are pre-med students, now this, the significance of the competition that starts so early, these are pre-med students that some of them emailed me and they’re like, oh my God, thank you for just bringing, just talking about that. Like creating the space and giving me permission to be like, oh, I totally do that and this is where it’s coming from. And one of them actually said, I’m totally burnt out and they’re not even in med school yet. These are like third, fourth year. And when I have a teenager that’s a junior and she doesn’t even want to go into medicine– but I don’t think it’s just medicine, I think it’s the way that the educational system is set up– she is under so much stress, AP classes and SAT and the social stuff, forget the social stuff, that’s a mountain by itself, and then bring the competitive. And she’s in a pretty competitive school, it’s a public school, but there were 25 valedictorians last year.

[00:41:28] Dr. JB: Whoa. Wow.

[00:41:30] Dr. Sogol: And I’m like, this is not healthy. This is why we have an exponential incline in teen suicide and teen anxiety and teen depression. Now I see it. Like I was like, if I didn’t have the tools to teach my child, if I wasn’t a pediatrician and a coach, like literally it just takes beyond a pediatrician to teach my child and coach her through it, she’d probably be suicidal by senior year or college dropout because emotionally, she would completely hit burnout by the time before she even enters college.

[00:42:04] Dr. JB: This is such an important topic to address and this is something I feel like you and I could talk about this for literally forever, like soul sisters, like you, man, you had me snapping off. Because it’s so true. It’s so true, everything you said, I agree with.

[00:42:22] Dr. Sogol: Thank you for having me and allowing me to share my story. And I hope it resonated with at least one audience member out there and, really, please guys, you’ve got to take care of yourself, I think I’ve said this like 10 times, you’ve got to take care of yourself. It is not selfish to say “no,” it’s not selfish to take a day off. It’s not selfish even, it’s not even selfish to say no to your kids and your partner. It is totally okay to be like, nope, I am not coming to your basketball game ’cause I do not enjoy it. Yeah, you’ve got to take care of yourself because if you don’t, the energy that you carry, that is what is getting emitted to everyone else. So if you are in this like exhaustion, anger– I used to yell all the time, so that’s how my energy came out, and now I don’t yell and my kids are so much more connected with me, ’cause they’re like, oh, my God mom, why aren’t you yelling? Yeah, so when you do the work on yourself, the ripple effect, it actually benefits everybody around you. So please take care of yourself.

[00:43:31] Dr. JB: So Dr. Sogol, if my audience member wanted to get in touch with you, how can they do so?

[00:43:37] Dr. Sogol: Yeah, so I have, my website is Dr. Sogol, it’s D R S O G O L dot com, and you can, if you’re interested in talking to me, if you’ve had burnt out, if you’re at a point in your life where you are just, feel horrible and you don’t know why, I can definitely help with that. I also have a podcast, it’s Mindful Living with Dr. Sogol, so I am nine months into the podcast and it’s got amazing stuff, everything that I teach in my coaching with my clients, I share on my podcast. So go check out to see if you’d like that vibe. And I’m also on Instagram, DrSogol_MindfulLiving, I’m on Facebook, but I’m more on Instagram and I post a lot and I share a lot, so I would be more than happy to have y’all come on board.

[00:44:23] Dr. JB: Amazing. You’ve given so much outstanding advice already, but as we close, here’s another opportunity, do you have any last minute words of advice for my audience?

[00:44:35] Dr. Sogol: Last minute words is I want you to ask yourself, am I happy? Whatever that means for you. Am I happy? Do I know what joy is at this point in my life? Do I love life? Because when I started on this process, I couldn’t define what happy, joy, and love was. My body had literally, I call it an anaphylactic reaction, when I would hear the words happy, joy, and love. Write those words down or say ’em out loud or think them, write them and say it out loud, and just see what your body feels when you ask those questions of yourself, and that is a very good gauge as to where you are and what you need to do. If you’re like happy, loving your life, like yeah! I’m riding high! Then amazing. But if you’re like, ooh, or if you’re like, I, what is that? Then that’s the area that you need to start with, and that area is you.

[00:45:48] Dr. JB: Yeah, who says a doc can’t rap? D O C T O R J B. The greatest doctor to ever touch the mic. The greatest podcast ever broadcasted or prerecorded. Come learn some. Each one, teach one. I’m done.

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