Episode 208 – Unstoppable Board-Certified Pediatrician and Master Certified Physician Development Coach with Dr. Joe Sherman

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Yes, a long title but absolutely appropriate and worth it for this guest. Meet Joe Sherman. Joe grew up in a family being the youngest of seven siblings. His parents who had not gone to college wanted their children to do better than they in part by getting a college education. Joe pretty much always wanted to go into medicine, but first obtained a bachelor’s degree in Engineering. As he said, in case what he really wanted to do didn’t pan out he had something to fall back on.

Joe, however, did go on and obtain his MD and chose Pediatrics. Wait until you hear his reasoning of why he wanted to help child patients over adults.

Much of my time with Joe revolves around discussing the current status and future of medicine. Spoiler alert! I already invited Joe back for a second episode. He had a lot of good and interesting material to share and there was simply no way to get it all into one episode. I hope you will find my discussion with Joe Sherman beneficial, productive and helpful to you, especially if you are a doctor.

About the Guest:

Dr. Joe Sherman helps health professionals transform their relationship with the unrelenting demands of their jobs and discover a path toward meaning, professional fulfillment, and career longevity. He believes the key to personal and professional success lies in bringing “soul to role” in your medical practice.

Dr. Sherman is a paediatrician, coach and consultant to physicians and healthcare organizations in the areas of cross-cultural medicine, leadership, and provider well-being. He is a facilitator with the Center for Courage & Renewal and a Master Certified Physician Development Coach with the Physician Coaching Institute.

Dr. Sherman has been in pediatric practice for over 35 years concentrating on healthcare delivery to underserved and medically complex children in the District of Columbia, Tacoma, Seattle, Uganda, and Bolivia. He has held numerous faculty positions and is currently Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington.
Learn more at skyeteam.com

Ways to connect with Dr.Joe:

My website is:


Direct email connection:

About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.

Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.


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Transcription Notes:

Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Well, hi, everyone. Thanks for being here with us. We’re glad that you’re here. Wherever you happen to be in the world. I am your host, Michael Hingson. And you are now listening to or watching unstoppable mindset. We’re inclusion, diversity in the unexpected meet. And unexpected is what we do most of the time. Anyway. So that’s what we’re going to do today, we get to chat with Dr. Joe Sherman, who is a board certified pediatrician. And he is also a certified master coach. And specifically, he is a master certified physician development coach, which is even more impressive sounding. We’re gonna learn about that as we go forward. But I want to again, thank you all for being here. And Joe, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Thanks for being here with us.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 02:13
Thanks for having me, Michael. I really appreciate the invitation.
Michael Hingson ** 02:17
Now you’re up in the Washington area, right?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 02:20
I am. I’m in Seattle, Washington, the land of cold freezing rain and clouds right now.
Michael Hingson ** 02:27
Ie up well, it got up to 64 today here where I am down in Victorville. And so I have little space heaters that are keeping the house warm enough that I don’t have to turn on the gas furnace. And so that saves a bunch of money since everything here is in this new house is solar. We like that.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 02:48
That sounds very cozy compared to the rest of the country. Well,
Michael Hingson ** 02:53
at least it’s it’s cozy here. My cat likes it and Alamo, my guide dog like it so I can’t, can’t complain too much. Good for you. Well, why don’t we start? Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the earlier Joe Sherman growing up and some of that stuff?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 03:11
Sure, I’d love to. So I am originally from the east coast, from Washington, DC, and I’m the youngest of seven kids. And when I grew up in my family, it was all about get the education get the most education you can and achieve as much as you can academically to go as far as you can. Neither of my parents went to college. And so it was a big deal, especially for my father to make sure we we all went to college and and it really I think the message I got was find a profession and a job that you actually want to go into work every day to do.
Michael Hingson ** 03:54
How many of you were there? How many sores seven of us, oh my god and
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 04:00
and he worked for the post office and he had tough work tougher out there. But he was able to put five of seven of us through college and through our work and his work. But there definitely was a message that I went into college with which was at being the youngest of seven, wanting to do something different from the rest wanting to be better than the rest often because competition was big. And no one was in healthcare. And I really enjoyed this idea of trying to be of service to people. I enjoyed coaching sports, I enjoyed tutoring and, and being doing community service things. And I thought since I did well academically, Madison was a great route to go. So that’s the route I took. studied engineering in college because my parents, and I decided you always want to have a backup in case you don’t make it into medical school and engineering was a good, good way to get a job. And most of this stuff really is a preface to how much we follow the messages we were given by other people and the messages which have been kind of, programmed into us for better or for worse by people who really wanted the best for us. And for me, that was to go to medical school. And I thought that that would be a great profession, social status, income, helping people and giving me a certain amount of autonomy as far as where I would work and, and kind of what I would do. If those were the reasons I went in that direction.
Michael Hingson ** 06:00
It’s interesting. I’ve heard so many times on unstoppable mindset and just other times in my life about how parents didn’t go to college, and they wanted their children to go to college, and they were really committed to doing it. But I love the other part, which parents sometimes did, and sometimes didn’t necessarily do, which in your case was find a job that you like and that you want. And I think that’s really great. They were not only really committed to helping you go to college, but they wanted you to do what you found enjoyable to do, which is cool.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 06:38
Exactly. And they were very supportive. I have to say, since I was the youngest of seven, by the time I made it into college and was making my way through, they were getting older, and they were getting sick with different ailments to the point that my senior year of college, they both died. What year was separate incidences that was in 1980 1880, and 1981. So
Michael Hingson ** 07:12
did they’re getting older and having illnesses in any way influenced you to being interested in medicine.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 07:20
My experience, I would say, with interacting with their doctors and the medical system, as they became ill and eventually died, definitely influenced the kind of doctor I became. And my approach to medicine.
Michael Hingson ** 07:40
Will Tell me more about that, if you would what?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 07:42
Well is almost a contrast of two extremes. My mother died of heart disease, and she was diagnosed with heart disease after I was born, and was in the hospital for months. And then the rest of her life, she struggled with congestive heart failure. She had a cardiologist to doctor who was actually a friend of the families. He was there with her every step of the way. The night before she died, I was in the hospital there, having then called back from school to be there because she was so sick. And he brought his wife to the hospital that night, to say goodbye to be with her, and, and to be able to talk to the family. And so shot was an example of a very supportive, compassionate physician accompanying someone at a tough time,
Michael Hingson ** 08:44
that had to have an impact on you. That was
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 08:47
a big impact. The other extreme was a couple of months after my mother died, my father had gone in for a procedure for finding blood in his urine. And eventually, he didn’t know what was going on. And what the reason was. His doctor never told him but instead told me a 21 year old kid that he had metastatic bladder cancer and was going to die. There was no treatment for that.
Michael Hingson ** 09:22
I didn’t why didn’t he tell his patient?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 09:25
Well, I asked him that question. And I said, Well, I don’t think my father knows the diagnosis, or that there’s no treatment. Is there are you going to tell him? And he said, Well, I was a little worried that he might get too depressed since his wife just died. And I was not in medicine. I didn’t know what I was listening to. But that doctor after two follow up visits after his procedure and diagnosis and Ever Told him and my oldest brother eventually had to tell him. And that was a very, very difficult time in my life when I was home over Christmas break, and I knew my father was going to die. And he didn’t know. That really was the negative example for the kind of doctor I wanted to be. I want did not want to be someone that was dishonest with my patients that wasn’t supportive of my patients that wasn’t there to answer their questions and to accompany them at any point in time. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 10:45
In 2014, my wife became ill started with bronchitis and it kept getting worse. And we both had colds. And mine didn’t last long. But she had been in a wheelchair her whole life, and tended to when she got when she got a cold or the flu or anything, she really got it. And so she ended up going into the hospital on a Saturday and the next day, they had to put her on a ventilator because it went into double pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. And her lungs. And they told me it happened, like literally just in a few hours because they thought she had the flu. And she kept saying she didn’t. And I knew she didn’t. But anyway, her note lungs were more than 90% occluded. By the time they got her on a ventilator, and they put her in an induced coma. And the ventilator to start to try to clear out the lungs. They had to use a peeps level of 39 just to get air into her lungs. Yeah. You understand that? Because I guess normally peeps is the I forget what peep stands for. But it’s basically the pressure that it takes to put air into your lungs. And it’s normally between two and five.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 12:04
Exactly. Positive and inspiratory pressure.
Michael Hingson ** 12:09
Yeah. And she had 39 Everybody from around the hospital came just to see the gauges because no one believed it. But she survived. Wow. And the so the doctors were honest with me. And when they finally brought her out of the coma they had, they had given her propofol. So this was now with night it was 2014. So as long after Michael Jackson, but when she did come out of it, I asked her if she remembered singing thriller, or any of those kinds of things says she had propofol. But she, they also were very forthright with her. They knew that she understood her body. And we were very pleased at the fact that people were direct with her in a good way. But they they did not try to keep things from her.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 13:08
I think that’s very important I, in my situation, it was as I started to go through medical school, especially in my clinical years, I used to go back as a medical student and sit with my patients and talk to them get to know them better. It was not just a matter of carrying out all of the duties that a medical student was supposed to do. But it was truly getting to know my patients as people. Yeah, not just diagnoses. And that was influenced a lot by what I experienced with my parents.
Michael Hingson ** 13:50
When I was going down the stairs getting out of the World Trade Senator, we had firefighters passing us and so on. And we asked what was going on. And they didn’t tell us. And there were a couple of other times along the way that I asked people what was happening. And they said, there’s just no time to really tell you, this is what you got to do. I also know that they probably did that with me and others because they didn’t want to cause panic by saying terrorists and attack the towers. On the other hand for me, and they didn’t know b Of course, I love information. And it would have been invaluable for me to know, because it would have actually made a difference in the decisions that we made and where we walked, which ended up putting us in more danger because we were very close to tower to when it collapsed rather than going a different way. And but you know, they didn’t know me and I appreciate people not doing that. But I also think that we as a people can learn to accept information. But it is a problem that we have often that we we let unexpected things overwhelm us and Fear blindness as I describe it, as opposed to learning to control it, and it is, it is a problem. So, I would think that the doctors really should have understood or your doctor should have understood about your father, and it would have been appropriate and honest. But sometimes they’re afraid to I guess. Exactly,
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 15:20
exactly. I think that was the situation that was, you know, as physicians, we are given a lot of power we are. And we are built up during our medical training to believe that we have the answers to always expect to have the answers. And when we don’t have an answer, when we don’t have a treatment or cure, then sometimes we feel like we failed in some way. And so being present to patients in that moment, can be very difficult for some physicians. For me, it’s just a change in plan. It’s a plan that doesn’t involve an operation or chemotherapy, or whatever the treatments that would be futile otherwise, might be. But instead, the plan going ahead is to comfort patients and to be present to family members and answer as many questions as possible. And I think that that also is delivering medical care and to be compassionate to patients and families. I
Michael Hingson ** 16:46
have heard so many times when someone who has eye problems goes to see their ophthalmologist, and the ophthalmologist after doing whatever work they do, knows that this person is going to lose their eyesight. And they just say, I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do. And they leave the room. And they’re taught, I’m told oftentimes in the schools where they go, that if they can’t save a person’s eyesight, then it’s really a failure. And we’ve got to somehow get away from those kinds of attitudes and ideas.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 17:29
Yes, I think this is something that everybody is different, you know, every physician is different. And I think a lot. I think something that’s forgotten is that we all come into medical training, already with our demeanors our personalities, our belief systems, as well as our values. And we’re taught to fit in a certain way, and behave a certain way in order to get to our destination, which is graduating from medical school, finishing a residency and getting a specialty. And during that process, many of us lose sight of who we are, what our values are. Because we’ve been given things to take on such as death as a failure, or you should always know the correct treatment. Otherwise, you failed certain amount of perfectionism a certain amount of European never, you’re never going to know it at all. So you always are have to keep working, working, working and striving. It’s Yes, it’s a recipe for burnout easily. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 18:48
And nowadays, of course, in our sort of fractured chaotic society, on so many things in the medical environment in the medical world have become politicized, which has to really make it even harder for doctors.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 19:06
Yes, I would say I think for most physicians that I encounter, the the politics that that they wrestle with more than anything is the business of health care. How they can fit into the increasing corporatization of health care. Yeah. Coming from coming from a profession that is really meant to be human centered, and relationship based. But functioning within an environment of business and corporate gain is a cultural collision that many physicians are wrestling with now.
Michael Hingson ** 19:56
Yeah, I’m the in the insurance industry in the corporate business industry just seems to want to dominate and forget what medicine and the philosophy of medicine and being a doctor is really all about.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 20:16
Yes, I think it’s, you know, it’s it’s a challenge, because in our country and the United States, healthcare is really a commodity that we purchase, just like everything else. It’s not, it’s not considered to be a right like a social, like a social benefit that government is responsible for. There are only select groups of the population that that is considered to be a responsibility of government. And even that is extremely politicized and charged. But because it is a commodity, to be bought and sold, right now we have medical groups, hospitals, health systems that are being bought and sold by corporations, venture capitalists, private equity firms, every kind of businesses that you can imagine. How
Michael Hingson ** 21:18
do you deal with the issue, though, and I’ve heard people argue this that, yeah, the whole idea of socialized medicine, and as in other countries, and so on, but we’re more advanced, we’ve done more to contribute to medical progress here than anywhere else. And that has happened in part, because of the capitalistic way we do things and the business and competitive way we do things.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 21:44
Yes, I would say, for our situation in United States, as far as medical technology, advances in research, for the most technical specialized care, we have made amazing strides. Even since I finished medical school, I can’t keep up with the amount of medical information that there is, and, and everything that’s been discovered, and, and, and all the technology available in hospitals. However, if you look at primary care, and access to quality care, across the board for the entire population, we really have not made such great progress. And as far as developing countries around the world, we are decreasing in our progress as far as access and quality primary care for everyone.
Michael Hingson ** 22:48
Yeah, it is really strange. To see what’s happened in the world of medicine, and so on, and I go every year for a physical and the physical is no more than a half hour, and then you’re you’re pushed out because the next person has to come in. And I know that it’s not nearly as thorough as it used to be. But that’s kind of the way it is. So I’ve had to spend time learning a little bit more about my own body and bringing any questions and so on to the doctor during the examination, or I do have email access. But still, we you’re right, we were not. We’re not progressing in that arena, like we really ought to, given the kind of country that we are.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 23:45
Yes, I think that’s true. And I think because the technology of medicine has advanced so much and because communication as advanced so much has become so instantaneous. That that demands on all health professionals, not only doctors but nurses and, and technicians and, and everyone that encounters patients. The pressure and the amount of work that’s now on our laps, has increased dramatically, especially in the last 20 to 30 years. And I think with the advent of the electronic health record, which is a wonderful resource as far as sharing information, but it’s really designed for coding and billing and being able to document whatever you need to document in order to build correctly. It is not really designed to convey information about what you have found medically with a patient from one person to another. And this amount of information that is now coming to each physician, through the computer or through The patient portal, through messages through phone calls through referral demands through prior authorizations for medications and treatments, all of that comes to one place. And it’s really hard for each physician to be able to attend to patients that are coming through the office, or the hospital throughout the course of the day, and also take care of all of this other administrative burden that’s heaped upon them right now.
Michael Hingson ** 25:30
Yeah, and, and the other, of course, challenges as we have a society that is getting older with baby boomers and so on, the number of patients that doctors are going to have see is just going to increase.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 25:43
Yes, so there is there has been a movement in our country for what’s called population based health management, which is not so much being paid fee for service meaning doctors traditionally have seen a patient of a certain complexity or a certain time, and is billed a certain amount of money for that visit, we started to move toward trying to keep people healthy, and not so much trying to get people in the office to see them again and again and again and again and Bill each time, but instead to get their overall health in line. So trying to look at the whole patient and try to prevent illness and also manage chronic illness well, whether they come into the doctor’s office or not. And that’s really what we’ve been trying to move toward. But again, like you mentioned, the politics of trying to get there has been a challenge. So we find ourselves stuck in between two different systems of healthcare.
Michael Hingson ** 26:55
What do you think about this evolving concept of telemedicine?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 27:00
I think telemedicine is amazing. I think that it has improved access tremendously. I think there are limitations to telemedicine. And I think that those things are, again, when you look at trying to get through the course of a day one medical provider, whether it be a physician, a physio, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, trying to get all the work done for the course of a day. If you have to be attentive to who comes in the office, who then appears on the computer and then go back and forth and do all of these different things. It’s just one more thing to be concerned about and worry about. However, I do know several physicians who have increased their flexibility, their amount of time they can spend with patients and are very pleased with the way telemedicine has opened those gates. So again, I think technology used appropriately and constant vigilance about how many people and what talents of people and skills are needed to handle all the information and work is that’s something that we really need to keep an eye on and do a better job at managing
Michael Hingson ** 28:27
and a physician get as much information from a telemedicine visit or a tele visit as you can from having a person actually coming into the office?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 28:42
Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. But I would say my experience being a doctor of going to doctors. I’ve been amazed at how little of a physical exam has actually done the course of visit. So I would say short of the physical exam. I think that a lot of information for certain complaints can be handled through telehealth. So I do think that that it’s made tremendous strides. Mental Health, I would say has been revolutionized by telehealth. My wife is a psychologist, clinical psychologist therapist. And ever since the pandemic and the lockdown she does predominantly teletherapy now it’s challenging. It’s challenging to look at a computer should I much prefer the old fashioned way of adding a three dimensional being in front of me. But But still I do think that it has improved access for several people.
Michael Hingson ** 29:51
I guess I’m a little bit of an oddity compared to some because I’m I’m so used to working some in a virtual world but also not looking at people that talking to people on a computer never bothers me. Now I do a lot of traveling and speaking today. Or I’m, I have been, and we’re ramping it up again after my wife passed in 2022. But I like in person visits for doing speeches because I can actually hear more of the audience reactions, as I’m speaking, which helps me fine tune a talk as I go along. And I don’t get any of that, with being able to communicate on Zoom, because I don’t get to hear audience reactions. What’s fascinating in from the reason I said it, in part is, I’ve actually talked to a couple people this week, who can see, and who said the same thing, we really don’t get to see the same level of interaction from doing speeches on Zoom, as we do from actually doing in person presentations. But I can see where the whole idea of telehealth and interacting over a computer can make life in some senses, perhaps a little bit better for physicians and certainly transmit the same or more information in the same period of time.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 31:17
Yeah, I think I’m all for improving access for patients, no matter what the modality is, again, as long as you have the correct and appropriate amount of people on the other end the handling the information and handling all of the requests that are being made.
Michael Hingson ** 31:41
Well, we’ve been kind of deviating from some of the stuff that I know we you and I had originally talked about. So I like to get back to you a little bit you went through and you got your degrees? And then what got you into pediatrics? Or what did you go from there? Well,
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 31:56
I think when I entered medical school, I was really drawn to a few different professions. One was medicine, one was teaching. And the other was counseling. I really enjoyed all of those types of interactions and relationship based professions. And as I went through medical school, I always loved kids, I always loved working with kids. And so I had my eyes on pediatrics the whole time. And I remember going through medical school looking for role models, looking for somebody who was a teacher and attending physician, someone who’s in practice in the community, where I could look at that person and say, I can see myself doing what they’re doing. I can see myself in them. And that happened finally with pediatrics. And I realized that I could do counseling, teaching medicine, all through pediatrics, I can counsel parents, I can teach students and residents. And I can use the knowledge and skills that I’ve learned in order to care for patients. And so that’s what drew me toward pediatrics. That and that I can be funny, and I don’t have to be serious all the time. When I see patients throughout the course of the day, that always helps.
Michael Hingson ** 33:27
Yeah, I mean, it is just no fun to have to be serious all the time. People don’t always get that about me. But I think there’s a lot to be said for having a sense of humor in a positive way. And as I tell people when we talk about them coming on the podcast, the only rule is we got to both have fun. So if you’re not having fun, you got to say so so we can fix it. But we have to have fun otherwise what good is life? Absolutely.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 33:56
And what other medical specialty allows you to dress up on Halloween with whatever else you want to dress out and and go in and take care of patients. And so as a resident in pediatrics, we always came into the hospital dressed in costumes. And so that’s that was always good time.
Michael Hingson ** 34:17
What was your favorite costume?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 34:19
Oh, I think one of my favorite costumes was one of the residents dress as a baby and complete with just a sheet on as the diaper as in the baby bottle and baby bonnet and the whole deal. So that was one of my favorites.
Michael Hingson ** 34:38
Did he talk baby or she talked baby? Just checking.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 34:44
Yeah, a little bit of everything. But it was just it’s nice to be able to accommodate kids and parents at the same time. Parents reacted well to that too. They usually do because they want the bad As for their kids, yeah. And I think that anything that makes their child feel more comfortable, then they’re in favor of,
Michael Hingson ** 35:09
will you have, you’ve traveled to various places, and practice still all over the world? Have you ever gotten tired or had real burnout from doing a lot of the medicine stuff or just dealing with people all day?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 35:27
You know, I have to say that I’ve been fortunate in my career to have had a variety of activities through the course of my jobs. Each job that I have had, I’ve been able to see patients teach residents and medical students participate in community activities and child advocacy activities. So that having that type of variety of activities has really sustained me in my career. And part of that has been experiences internationally. I was fortunate enough during my residency to spend a month in Bally’s. This was in 1988, on the border of Guatemala, and Belize. And that’s when I started to realize that medicine, healthcare in other countries is just not the same. And it’s just fascinating to see how culture culture influences health care, and, and trying to learn from living in another country, especially a low to middle income country that were, you have to use more of your creativity, and more of your people skills to try to, to try to help as many people as you can. So ever since that first trip to Belize, I was hooked on international health. And so throughout my career here in the United States, mostly combining teaching residents in pediatrics with bringing them to the community and seeing where their patients and families live. I’ve always combined my work in the US with trips abroad, whether they be short term, one month at a time, or long term, we, my wife and I moved to Uganda for two years and work there doing HIV prevention from mothers to infants. And later, after we had our own children, we moved to Bolivia. And we lived there for four years, working with a mission organization, and getting to do a variety of activities, as well as living within the community that we were serving. So that’s always been a major part of my medical career.
Michael Hingson ** 38:10
Have you ever experienced any kind of burnout or just being overwhelmed?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 38:14
Absolutely, absolutely. I would say I changed jobs, as some people would say fairly frequently, I never had one job the same job more than five years. Some of those moves, most of them were for other opportunities, or because of a plan that our family decided to, to move to another country, something like that. But I have to say that I have also had jobs, where the amount of work and the amount of responsibility I took on for myself became overwhelming. And I have the kind of personality that wants to fix everything for everybody, and try to make everything right for everybody. And that is a prescription for burnout. We don’t learn in medical school or medical training, how to take care of ourselves, we learn how to take care of other people. And so when we don’t do that, and we don’t do it, well, then we lose the ability to take care of other people because we have no fuel in our own engines. So I learned the hard way I burned out, became very anxious ventually depressed, had to step away completely from medicine for a while until I was able to rediscover all of those values, all those things that brought me to healthcare and and really drew me in which was predominantly the relationships and we’re Working with other people on a medical team and sharing the load. And I discovered that for myself, and now, I try to help other physicians to discover where they are really passionate in healthcare, where it is that they can bring who they are to what they do bring their soul to their role as physicians, is that kind of why you’re most of my time to do now?
Michael Hingson ** 40:26
Is that kind of why you went into the whole idea of coaching? Absolutely,
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 40:29
absolutely. Facilitating retreats for physicians so that they can get away and spend the time reflecting on why they even went into medicine to begin with, as well as working one on one with career discernment. And trying to decide if where you are is the best place for you. And if it’s not, then what you need to change externally and internally, in the way that you approach your job and your work.
Michael Hingson ** 41:03
Of course, that also has to be something that’s done in a non judgmental way, because so often, we just always like to try to fix blame or blame someone or something for something. And that just doesn’t help.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 41:19
No, I think that one of the greatest challenges for me, shifting from being the physician and treating patients, to being a coach is to let go of having all the answers to let go of having that prescription that of knowing exactly what’s needed in the situation. Instead, I spend more time, inquiring, questioning, challenging, but realizing that the true creativity and wisdom comes from within the client I’m working with. So that is a challenge for me. And I work on it and continue to grow myself in that ability to attend to people without wanting to have the magic answer all the time.
Michael Hingson ** 42:10
Yeah. Well, and you’re right. And my understanding of coaching has always been that you’re asking questions, and you’re trying to guide the client to discover the answers, because it’s not your job to have the answers but to help people find the answers for themselves.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 42:31
Exactly, exactly. And I think this is a challenge when I coach physicians, because many of them come to me wanting answers. And the temptation is to say, just do what I did. But I know that when it comes to medicine and a career in healthcare, I was the exception. I was the strange, odd ball. I so I don’t expect anybody to follow in my footsteps, I think that would be a wrong choice. I think. Instead, it’s important for me to help people discover their own path. And to do that, in a humble and open minded way, way that is open to self awareness and personal growth.
Michael Hingson ** 43:23
How has COVID changed all of this and how you deal with people, what physicians are facing and so on. I mean, I’m I know, it’s been very stressful. And during the height of COVID, thusfar. Physicians had to be incredibly overwhelmed. And the ones who especially were the caring, most caring ones, it had to hurt a lot. But I also suspect that it just numbed a lot of people who cared. And they just kind of had to go through the motions and do what they could.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 43:58
I think our experience of the COVID pandemic is very complex. And I think in some ways, all of the ills that our healthcare system was suffering. were revealed the curtain was pulled back, and people could see wow, you know, we weren’t prepared for this. We already have a a staff of health professionals that were already burned out, we’re already kind of operating on fumes and we push them even farther. And, for me, I still hold out hope that we’re still examining that experience and realizing that we need to change things that we need to attend to the health and well being of our health care providers as much as we do our general population of patients. But I feel like so many people are traumatized that they feel like, let me just get back to something I called normal before. But what we’re really looking for as a new normal, what we’re looking for is post traumatic growth, not post traumatic stress, or just returning to the same old ways, really need to learn from our experiences, on a micro level, on a personal level, and on the systemic level.
Michael Hingson ** 45:32
I know, after September 11, I kept hearing people say we got to get back to normal. And I never liked that. And I realized and then started including it in speeches, normal will never be the same again, we can’t get back to the same normal or the same thing will happen again. Normal will never be the same again. And it’s just as true with COVID. You can’t go back to normal, what’s normal?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 46:01
Yeah, I mean, that’s, I think, I think forever, people want to forget, they want to put that out of their minds and out of their out of their thoughts. But it’s there, that experience is there. We were traumatized. I know, my kids were in school, throughout that entire time. They were traumatized. They, they had to change their entire way of going to school. And it was it was challenging as parents is for kids and for everyone involved. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 46:38
And the reality is change is something that happens all the time. We we, we don’t like change. But we keep saying it’s all around us, but we still don’t like it. And the reality is, it’s I think that the COVID offered us a lot of opportunities if we learned how to take them.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 47:02
Yes, they did. And I think I think we advanced in a lot of areas. But I feel like there are still several areas that we really, really need to take a hard look, I think right now, what’s happened as a result of COVID is the acceleration of fuzziness, physicians and other health care providers leaving their professions. And we’re going to go through and have are currently going through a severe health care provider shortage. And I know that people are starting to realize more and more when they try to call their doctor’s offices and there’s no one picking up the phone. It’s because there’s nobody home people have left. And it’s hard to find people to replace physician, the nurse practitioner, Pa who has built up a practice and really has become skilled at what they do. It’s better to try to provide the support they need to sustain them to keep them there. So that patients do have somebody to call somebody to see them when they’re sick.
Michael Hingson ** 48:17
What do you see is what we should do to better help and deal with the health of physicians? And I’m, I guess, as part of that, I would also ask, What can we as patients do to help that process?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 48:34
I think that this is a great question, because my belief is now that until there’s a patient uprising, and that patients, including those in government, start to realize that their own health care is being compromised, that we’re not really going to make significant changes. I would say that there’s changes that need to be made on a systemic structural level, organizational level, as well as personal changes that need to be made with each physician with each health care professional. I think personally, we need to take better care of ourselves. We need to be able to advocate for ourselves and to really be self compassionate, to let ourselves be less than perfect to let ourselves walk away from situations when we are exhausted and not try to overdo it. And to come up with methods of balance of choice for ourselves, set boundaries that we haven’t set before structurally and organizationally. There is too much work to be handled by one person or the few people that do it. If you are in an in a corporation in technology, and you had developed and invented some new technology then You would have a whole crew of people around to try to take care of all aspects of that new product. Because now you do things a different way you’ve invented something different. So you need people who are specialized in those areas. Instead, in healthcare, we have the same kind of people handling so much more work. And it cannot all be done. For each physician seeing patients throughout the course of the day, there needs to be a person completely dedicated to handling all messages that come in all requests for referrals, for consultations, for prescription refills, and all of that, because the physician needs to be attending to patients that are there during the day. We also need people that are able to be experts and billing and coding and all of the things that the electronic health record is calling us to do. And we need to have flexibility and the amount of time that we have to spend with patients, it can’t be this cookie cutter schedule, that gives the same amount of time for somebody with multiple complex illnesses, as we do with someone that has a very straightforward respiratory infection. So these are some of the changes that I feel we really need to make to catch up to where we are in the business of healthcare right now.
Michael Hingson ** 51:26
Are we making those changes? Are we making progress? You
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 51:31
know, very, very slowly and in small ways. When it comes to health care, now the business of health care, it’s still the bottom line. It’s still how much are you taking in compared to how much you’re spending. And I would say, when you think about programs that make the experience for physicians and other health care providers, more tolerable, or even fulfilling, it ends up being last on the list. So I feel like there needs to be more pressure in this area. And that’s where patients can help they can become advocates for their physicians for their providers, and try to ask, on a personal level, when next time you go in for health care, how are you doing? How are you holding up? How are you dealing with all the pressures that are on physicians these days, just inquiring, and knowing somebody cares about us is helpful. So I think that that’s one small step people can do.
Michael Hingson ** 52:42
And I think it makes sense. You know, the personal relationship is a two way one. And so we need to care about our doctors, as much as we want them to care about us. It has to be a two way street. And again, hopefully we can do things to help make life more fun for them. I know for me, I have the advantage. When I do go visit my doctor even heard the fiscal physical every year, I take a guide dog with me, so he gets a dog fixing anybody in the office gets a dog fix. So we’re, we’re very popular when we go in.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 53:19
That’s great. That’s great.
Michael Hingson ** 53:20
We’re gonna have
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 53:23
little dog fixes in every office.
Michael Hingson ** 53:25
Well, and and the director of medicine, where we go discover this and so there’s a mandate that we need to let him know whenever we’re going to come in so that he can can also come in and he’ll stand in the doorway and won’t let us out until he has enough of a dog fix. So it’s really kind of fun. You know, and who can complain about that? I’m certainly not going to sites that’s the dog loves it.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 53:56
That’s fantastic. Personal Touch. That’s great. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 54:00
I think it’s it’s something that you know, we need to do more of their people to and it I’m I’m of the opinion that there are so many people who do thankless jobs, I love to tease TSA people when I go through airports, and work to make them smile, because they don’t get nearly enough of that. And mostly, I’m pretty successful. There are a few people who take themselves too seriously. But mostly we can do pretty well at it. And I can make people laugh like they’ll they’ll ask me for my ID and I say things like Well, why do you need mine? Did you lose yours? Or might have if I were a kid, I’ll wear a mask usually and they’ll say I need to see your ID and I said What good is that gonna be I got a mask on. You know? We have fun with it.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 54:46
That’s good. It’s good. It’s always good to keep up the spirits. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 54:51
well, I got I love to laugh at it too. So it works out well. You know, in in this New Post COVID world I guess there are a lot of things are changing, I guess it’s really fair to say maybe the real, really maybe the question to ask is, do we have a post COVID world? Is there ever going to be a post COVID world,
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 55:15
I think, in talking to my physician clients who are in hospitals, right now, they say that, across the United States, the wards are packed with COVID patients. And it’s back, it’s here, it’s never left. There are different variants of COVID that are present. Immunization helps decrease the complications tremendously. The hope is that COVID will become another respiratory virus, like RSV, valenza, that we just deal with each year. As long as we keep vaccinated and keep up with those boosters, then I believe that that will decrease the amount of death and serious illness that we see from COVID.
Michael Hingson ** 56:09
Do you think that we’re at some point, going to have a, I don’t know, I guess it would be a live vaccine or a more traditional type vaccine that may help to do more to actually cure it, as opposed to just cutting down symptoms? And I’m man, I will say right off, I make sure I get vaccinated every chance I get.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 56:32
Yeah, I think each, each bacteria or virus that we have immunizations for are different. And so these respiratory viruses, such as influenza, COVID, they change so much, and they, they have so many variants, so many different mutations, variants, whatever you want to call it. So unfortunately, there’s not one shot fits all certain bacteria that’s different, or with other viruses like varicella, or herpes, or other things, other viruses that don’t tend to have as many variances of a wide variety. But as we are right now with, with COVID changes so much that we’re most likely going to have to have a different vaccine every year. Well,
Michael Hingson ** 57:34
I think it is absolutely amazing that we got the mRNA vaccine so quickly. And I know artificial intelligence, as they call it had something to do with helping with that. But it does say something about what we can do that we did get some backs on the vaccine so quickly. And I really wish some people who keep spreading conspiracies about oh, it’s not really a vaccine, they’re putting little radio monitoring devices in us, you know, and things like that would just stop that. It’s it’s doing such a disservice to everyone.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 58:12
Yeah, I agree. I think, unfortunately, there’s a lot of mistrust within the healthcare system. And people have reasons to not trust. But I do think that that people who do spread false information that can be very dangerous.
Michael Hingson ** 58:31
Talk about having fun every time I go in for a vaccine. As soon as they give me the vaccine, I’ll reach over if I have it in my right arm, I’ll reach over with my left arm and slap my hand over the bandit and said, Oh, wait a minute, there’s one that’s trying to get away. Let me get it. And, you know, again, they think they get it in they laugh. Actually, one person wasn’t sure what I meant and said there is no conspiracy. I said no, you missed the point. But, you know, I have had and my wife had no problems in dealing with the lockdown. She had rheumatoid arthritis. So it was an autoimmune thing that also made her more susceptible to such things and we were blessed at not getting COVID and and very glad to keep it that way. And you know, she passed just because she was in a wheelchair her whole life and her body just slow down and we lost her in 2022 so it’s me and a dog and a cat. And none of us get COVID and we we don’t mind being in the house so we’re good. But I do I do get to travel now when I can find speaking engagements and I’m we’re doing more of that. And I also travel on airplanes with masks. I don’t see a problem with it.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 59:46
Yeah, I think seeing more and more people doing that routine.
Michael Hingson ** 59:49
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it works. Yeah, so it makes perfect sense to do. Well, how do you see Um, the whole evaluation process of what’s happening in medicine, you know, going forward, what what are the major improvements that you think we will be seeing that will help mental health and everything else?
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 1:00:16
Well, wow, mental health, you just opened up a whole nother? Yeah, I know. But I would say, you know, we destigmatize mental illness as a huge goal that we need to do. And it the way life presents itself now is extremely stressful, and we all need support and help. Our brains were not, were not created to deal with such a flood of information constantly, and trying to sort all that out and it can become overwhelming. So I’m hoping that we can approach things from a compassionate, open minded point of view, to try to take care of everyone, both the health care providers, as well as the people that need treatment, and across the board the entire population. And that’s really the direction that I’m hoping we all move toward.
Michael Hingson ** 1:01:23
I think we have to, we have to do something. And you know, because the flow of information isn’t going to slow down. Exactly. You know, we have been doing this for more than an hour. And we could go forever. But I would like to ask if we went ahead and stopped. But could we do another one and continue this discussion? Would you want to do that? I’d be willing to do that. Sure. Yeah,
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 1:01:51
I’d be happy to,
Michael Hingson ** 1:01:52
then I suggest let’s go ahead. And I want to thank you for being on unstoppable mindset, I think it will be absolutely fun to do more of this. And I’m always fascinated to, to be involved in these discussions. And, and I think it’s, it’s great to learn, I learned a lot and want to continue to do that. So I think it’d be fun to have another one. And I believe that people listening will agree. So I want to thank you for coming on. And I want to also just thank everyone for listening. If people want to reach out to you, how can they do that?
Yes, they can check out my website, which is Joe Sherman md.com. That’s my name, Joe Sherman, m d.com. And if you want to reach me directly, you can email me at Joe J o e at Joe Sherman md.com. And you can also schedule if you are a physician health professional, seeking help or support through coaching. You can schedule a consultation with me for free directly from my website. So I welcome any inquiries, or anyone out there that believes that they are struggling as a health care provider and needs support. I
Michael Hingson ** 1:03:13
don’t know whether my cat would acknowledge that she could probably use some help in doing one thing or another. But she she thinks she’s the boss. So I guess we have to contend herself with that.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 1:03:24
One, too. Yeah. Well, boss got
Michael Hingson ** 1:03:26
Yep. Oh, yeah. Oh, this one’s acuity. She yells at me when she’s hungry, and I have to go pet her while she eats. So she’s pretty funny. But I do want to thank you for being here. And I want to thank you all for listening. Reach out to Joe. I’m sure that he has a lot of other kinds of things he can talk with you about. And if you are a physician or related in any way to that business, I have no doubt that Joe is a person who can assist a lot in dealing with questions and issues and everything else under the sun regarding all of this. So thanks for for doing it. I want to say again, thank you all for monitoring us and listening to us today. I’d like to hear from you. If you would be willing to feel free to email me with any thoughts or questions or comments, you can email me at Michaelhi, m i c h a e I h i at accessiBe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to our website www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast. And Michael hingson is m i c h a e l h i n g s o n.com/podcast. Most of all, we’d love it and really appreciate it if you give us a five star rating here on unstoppable mindset. So give us a rating and we’d love your reviews. And I’ve mentioned it a few times and I’ll say it now at the end. I do travel and speak talking about teamwork and trust and inclusion and diversity and of course telling my story of escaping from the World Trade Center on September 11. And if you’re looking for a speaker, please reach out love to hear from you. But once again, Joe, I want to thank you for being here and we will definitely set this up and do another one.
Dr. Joe Sherman ** 1:05:06
Thank you so much, my god enjoy
**Michael Hingson ** 1:05:13
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com . AccessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for Listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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