Amanda: Hey guys. Welcome back to the podcast. I am Amanda.
Laura: I'm Laura.
Kendra: And I'm Kendra.
Amanda: And today I am ecstatic because my buddy, Dr. Michael Hersh is joining us today to give a male perspective on coaching. I met Michael in coach training. We're in a small group of physicians who train together and still keep in touch. And I'll just say personally, he has coached me and he is really good. I've been coached by a lot of people and every time I get coached by Michael, I'm like, dang, I never thought of it that way. He's just really good. He's a gastroenterologist, husband, dad, and like I've said, he is a phenomenal coach. He has his own physician coaching practice called Better Physician Life, and I can't wait for you to meet him. Welcome, Michael.
Dr Hersh: Thank you so, so much for having me. I love what you guys are doing. I love your show. I listen to it every week and so just thank you so much for, for inviting me and for having me.
Laura: Thanks for being here.
Kendra: Thank you Michael so much. That is such a blessing to know that even fellow colleagues and coaches out there get something from our podcast. Thank you so much for listening. That means a lot. So, why don't you start off by telling our audience a little bit about you, like who you are, what you're training entailed, family, kind of background information.
Dr Hersh: Sure thing. So I had a pretty traditional trajectory, right? So kind of went straight through college, med school and then internal medicine residency, straight into fellowship. Kind of followed the course exactly like I was supposed to. And every step of the way kind of felt like, okay, I just need to get through this, and then the next phase is gonna be so much better. I just, I just know life is gonna get easier once I get to the next thing. And kind of got to, I would say about, I don't know, almost 10 years into my attending career, and I had everything that I had ever pictured. I was an attending gastroenterologist in a very bustling community practice. Things were going exactly like they were supposed to; married, two kids, a boy and a girl, right? Like, the only thing I didn't have was the picket fence, but that's okay. I live in Chicago and there's not really too many picket fences around here. And so, but something just still didn't seem right. It was, it was almost like, you know, it was fine. But it just seemed like maybe something was missing. There should be more. And I kept seeing these ads for physician coaching. And I am originally from New York. I live in Chicago now, but originally from New York. Super skeptical guy. But I was like, you know what? I'm just gonna give this a try. This seems like something. I could try, I don't know. And I logged on and I listened to a group coaching session. And it was fine. And I kind of was like, okay, you know, I kind of got a little bit out of it, but this isn't really for me. And I logged off and I did this kind of on my commute home and I came inside and I was talking to my wife and I told her what had happened and what I had, you know, listened to physician coaching. And I was like, yeah, you know, I listened to it, it was okay. I'm not really sure. And she just looked at me and she's like, you need to do this. And I was like, I don't think so, but, but thanks so much. This is just not for me. Right. And the coach reached out personally the following day and he was like, look, I saw you were on last night. I'd love to do this one-to-one. Let's get on a call. And so I did. It was really my biggest problem at the time was I had this wait list that I just couldn't get a hold of. Every time I saw all the people, there were like more people to be seen, and it was so overwhelming and frustrating and he really helped me on that first call. And I thanked him profusely. And he asked, so do you want to do this? And I was like, no, and then he asked me this one question that really changed everything for me. And that was, “well, if you don't do this, then what changes?” And man, that question, so I did it and it just, it literally changed everything. And so that's, that's kind of, that's my long short story.
Kendra: That is such an awakening because I know that that's gonna resound and hit home with several people listening because we all are skeptics. That's how we start. But that's also what drives us into this terrible vortex of burnout. So thank you for sharing that. It's an amazing story. You mentioned a little bit about your first introduction to coaching, but then what made you take the next step? What propelled you into, “okay, I got this. My life was changed. I need to get certified now”.
Dr Hersh: So yeah, I think in the first three months of coaching, just all of these things started coming up. You know, I got into coaching for one reason, the wait list. And then as I started talking through my wait list issues, all of these other things started coming up. And really that's where the transformation happened. It wasn't that I learned to, to release the expectations of my wait list. It was just all the other stuff that kept coming up and that was new. And what I found was there were all of these incredible physician coaches, and most of them were women, and they were doing a phenomenal job. It was such a great job. And it was helping me so much, but there just didn't seem to be a ton of men in this space. And I just, I loved this work so much, and so then I just decided, you know, I'm gonna do this and, and thank goodness because I had no idea what I was doing when I set out on the path to actually become a coach. But you know, I just was like, you know, there has to be more people out there spreading this message, and there has to be more male physicians talking about the reality of this stuff to other male physicians. And so that's what inspired me to do this.
Kendra: Well, I think you did hit the nail right on the head there. I think, you know, like breeds like, and so sometimes when you create the environment as a male physician, there's just some unique characteristics, some unique experiences that just go with practicing our profession as a male. So what a brave step, and I thank you for that. Are there any common issues that you see, or that are some themes that run through your sessions when you're coaching men?
Dr Hersh: There's definitely a lot of common themes. I wanna also share, right? A lot of these things are shared with our female colleagues, right? So it's not, it's not necessarily that these are male specific issues, and so I'm sure you guys,you know, in coaching all the physicians, you've seen a lot of these things too. But, you know, I mentioned to you when I first started talking about my journey, this idea that once, if I could just get through this one thing, then my life was gonna get better. Which, you know, we all know that's called an arrival fallacy. And man, if that does not run deep for doctors, right? I mean that carrot just gets dangled in front of us from go and we just keep running after it, thinking that things are gonna be better when we catch it. And so I see that a lot. I think the other thing that I see a lot in my colleagues is this yearning to be more present. Right? There's so much distraction. We're at work and we just wanna be at home with our families, and then we're home with our families and we're just constantly thinking about all of the other things that need to get done. And so those are probably two of the biggest things. I think one of the biggest hurdles that we kind of tackle in physician coaching is processing feelings, right? Because I think I hate to overgeneralize, but for me in particular, I didn't even realize I had that many feelings. I was frustrated, angry, worried, and that was about it. And then during one of my coaching sessions, one of my female coaches pulled out a feeling wheel. And I don't know if your listeners know what a feeling wheel is, but this was an overwhelming experience just seeing this thing and all of the potential feelings that can exist. And so I think for men learning to process emotions and feelings is really vital work and it's something that we do a lot of in coaching.
Laura: Yeah. We do all have the same issues, men and women physicians alike. So a random question. We were talking to a doc who is also a hospital administrator and she wondered why there were so many female physician coaches compared to men, whereas business coaches tend to be the opposite. Do you have any insight on that?
Dr Hersh: It's an interesting question. I don't think I have an exact answer. I think that female physicians have kind of been the pioneers in the physician coaching space. They have been the ones that have really gone out there, you know, and in some ways, and again, I hate to be, you know, stereotypical and like gender focused, but you know, women tend to be the caretakers. And so right now the female physician coaches are caretaking for our entire profession. Right? And they have really leaned into the importance of this work. And so they, you know, it's just kind of exploded in the female physician community. I think the men, I think all physicians are skeptical, but I think the men tend to be a little bit more skeptical of this work out of the gate. I know I was, but once, once they experience it and they see the power of it, very quick adopters. Like I am an example of this. I think business coaching just feels safer, right? I think for men when you are talking about business and so it just feels safer. And so that's probably why there's a lot of male business coaches and I think I'm hoping that we will see more and more male physician coaches as we move forward.
Laura: Yeah. I hope so.
Kendra: I love how you said Michael too, about the fact that women kind of were the pioneers and we kind of leaned into this more. But then I also love that you said once you got into it, it was so accessible. So it's almost like, maybe just the delivery of it and the more nurturing aspect of it. It just kind of needs to be handed maybe to our male counterparts instead of just actually being the active part of seeking out coaching and what it is and what it can do.
Laura: So, that leads me to a question. Would you mind sharing, and this is kind of off script, I just thought of this question, but would you mind sharing some of the things that are different for you now, other than your wait list, which I assume you've gotten control over, but I imagine you've had some other kind of transformational things happened to you since you entered the coaching space, either being coached or as a coach. What’s different for you now than before?
Dr Hersh: I think the number one thing, well, there are a couple of things. I don't wanna say the number one thing, but I think boundaries is something. I think that we as physicians are just trained to say yes to every opportunity. Every no is closing a door. And so if you don't, you gotta say yes, right? Yes is how you get into medical school. Yes is how you get into the residency of your dreams. Yes is how you get that competitive fellowship. And what you find as you continue down that yes path is that eventually you have said yes to all of these things that aren't fulfilling to you. They don't let you up anymore, and they're taking time away from the things that you truly want to be doing. And I would say the thing I didn't realize was I thought saying yes, was just saying yes. And I didn't think about the no that I was saying on the other side of that yes. So when you say yes to one opportunity, you're saying no to something else. And for me, the people I was saying no to was my family. And so learning to step away from that uncompensated hospital committee where nothing ever really happens. And saying yes to being home for dinner. That I think was huge for me. And then, well, I'll pause there. I don't know if you wanna follow up on boundaries because I feel like that is a huge thing for female physicians also.
Laura: Yes. It absolutely is. I think it, actually for women in general, but the concept of understanding that we can have unconditional love for people and yes, at the same time we can have boundaries that help us preserve our own resources and our ability to do what's most important to us. So, yeah, no, that is a huge, that's a huge issue I think for, we are in a helping profession, and I think probably for anyone in helping professions is understanding that boundaries don't mean you're selfish. It means that you want to be able to serve at your best capacity, and you have to do that. You have to preserve resources.
Dr Hersh: Yeah. And I think the other piece here, and this was something new that was introduced to me with coaching, was the idea, you know, you feel like when you say no to somebody, that they're gonna be mad at you. Right? Like they have the expectation that you're gonna say yes. And the truth is, with boundaries, you're making that boundary so that you can stay integrity with yourself, right? So that you are always making the choice that benefits your authenticity, the way that you want to be showing up in the world. So rather than thinking about a boundary as a negative thing, like, “oh, I'm saying no and that person's gonna not be happy with me because I've said no to them”. Remember the people that you're showing up for in that no, most notably yourself.
Laura: I love that. That's, yeah. Such truth right there. So, to be clear, any of you listeners, we love coaching our male clients. We do know that there's probably some men out there who really would prefer to be coached by another male, so that's why we're presenting Michael to you today. Michael, what advice would you give a male physician who was considering if coaching might be right for him?
Dr Hersh: Yeah, I would say honestly, I'm gonna say this and, and I practice what I preach. Because I started with coaching, it's gotta be going on about three years ago. And I am still actively getting, receiving coaching. And I'll also say to some of the skeptics out there, I am still a full-time practicing physician, right? So this has benefited not only my life, like we've been talking about, my family life, but my career as well, just in terms of I have been able, everything was going fine before I found coaching, but I find that my life has been upleveled through this process in so many ways. And not that you should do anything to overall, just like feel happier, but I am happier and I show up more, I show up better every day because of the work that I've done through coaching. So if there's any part of you that is wondering, that is curious, like coaching curious, right? I highly encourage you just to kind of lean into that and check it out because I too was very skeptical and I am so glad I took the chance on this because it has, it has changed my life and it has changed my family. So for the better for sure.
Amanda: I am so excited to have you on because so many of our colleagues are hurting, and I just want to present as many options as possible. Who do you, who are your ideal clients? Do you work with everyone? Just physicians. Like who is your ideal client and how can they get in contact with you if they're something inside of them right now that's like, he might be the coach for me.
Dr Hersh: Yeah. So I do. I work with all physicians. My, my focus, you know, I'm here because I wanted there to be another male physician face in the community. But I do coach all physicians and I coach on all the things. We, you know, my clients and I, we talk about work related issues. We talk about family issues, we talk about relationships. We talk about feelings. It's so interesting how all of these things are interrelated and, and I'll remind you, I came to coaching for work related issues, but I stayed for everything else that came up. You know, personally for me, I, and I didn't really share this before, you know, the coaching program that I started with had a group coaching component to it. And so I brought a topic, a work related topic, to a group coaching session, and I got off that call and I annihilated internally for having just divulged all this personal information to this group of strangers that I didn't really know very well. And it brought up all of these vulnerability issues for me. And that is, actually, I didn't mention that. That is the reason why I stayed in coaching. Cause I was like, man, you gotta work on that. And um, you know, I didn't recognize what Brene Brown refers to as a vulnerability hangover, but that's what that was. And so, you know, when I first started on coaching, I never could have come to this, you know, come to this podcast and talk so openly with you. But this has been, you know, me kind of working on this. And so it is just, my point is that we work on all the issues in physician coaching, and so you can bring any of this stuff to a physician coach. And you can find me, my website is: betterphysicianlife.com. Yeah, and I am just so glad to be able to bring this message to your listeners and I wanna thank you guys again so much for this opportunity.
Amanda: Oh, we love it. And I will say too, you had mentioned that feelings wheel, we will link to that. I believe it's feelingswheel.com. I, in my previous life, I still am a work in progress, was a professional bufferer. Like, you know, I'm an ER doc, I'm not supposed to be bothered by anything. Like, I prided myself with just being unbelievably stoic despite seeing the most horrific things. But it was affecting me. Obviously, like I didn't know that. But yeah, a lot of my issues were related to not knowing how to safely express feelings and thinking that I wasn't supposed to have them in the first place. I was just supposed to be a robot. So, anyway, we will link to that. That is big work that we do too with ER docs and you know, a lot of our clients that we see too. But it's good to know that it's not just us. With everything in coaching, it's always like, oh, I'm not the only one. No, we are all experiencing this. So, for our listeners to get to hear you more, I'm excited to announce that you are launching, “Doctor's Living Deliberately” on March 1st with Dr. Arpita DePalma. Who our listeners, if they've listened to all of the episodes, you will recognize from the anger episode number 37. So what do we need to know? How to tune in and all the things?
Dr Hersh: Yeah, absolutely. So, yes, you're absolutely right, doctors living deliberately. Our goal here is to highlight physicians and all of the incredible work they are doing, like the work that you all are doing to change themselves, to change the world. So we'll be highlighting physicians that are coaches, but also that look at, you know, travel rewards, that are trauma informed and just all of the things that we are doing to change the world and to make it essentially a better place for ourselves, for our families, and for the practice of medicine. So, it will be on all the places where you get your podcasts. And there'll also be videos on YouTube. And we're just so excited for this project and love all of the people that we've gotten a chance to interview. Amanda, we have gotten a chance to record with you, and Laura and Kendra, we'd love to have all of you at some point so that we could all chat and talk about all the incredible work that you guys are doing at The Whole Physician.
Amanda: You wanna see possibly the worst lighting in the nation. My internet was out and so my recording was at the library with the fluorescent light, it was just amazing lighting. It's just probably my best look ever. But, I was so excited to have the chance to talk to you guys though, so it was worth it. Any closing thoughts?
Dr Hersh: No. Again, I just, you know, I'm so grateful to the work that you all are doing and for bringing me on and for bringing this message to all physicians, but also to make sure that this is accessible to the male physicians.
Kendra: Awesome. Well, we thank you, Michael, and we're grateful for you that you took the time out today to not only be present here with our audience, but just doing the work that you're doing, pioneering some areas that just are becoming more and more apparent. We honor you today. We thank you for coming. We are so grateful for you today too that you have found our podcast. We want you to stay connected, so please go to our website, www.thewholephysician.com. You can sign up for our weekly well check, it's delivered right to your inbox. We also have options for our CME course that is live, and so head over there right now and check it out.
Until next time, you are whole. You are a gift to medicine and the work you do matters.