Episode 98: ‘How COVID-19 is Reframing Healthcare in America’ with Dr. Wayne Sotile

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

On Friday March 27th 2020, I launched a limited podcast series addressing how the COVID-19 pandemic is reframing American healthcare.  You can find the introductory episode here.  In this series, I am interviewing future-facing, courageous healthcare leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners – asking two questions:

(1) How is the COVID-19 pandemic immediately changing the way you are delivering healthcare?

(2) How will COVID-19 reframe American healthcare for years to come?

Our focus in this interview is on one of the most critical behind-the-scenes issues that has emerged during this COVID-19 pandemic – provider resilience.  This is not a new issue, but it’s importance has been magnified by the current crisis.  It’s also an issue that will be a high priority for years to come.

Our guest this week is Wayne Sotile.  Dr. Sotile is an international thought leader on resilience and work/life balance for health professionals. With 40 years of experience, he has published widely in peer-reviewed medical journals and authored nine books, including his latest two: The Thriving Physician: How to Avoid Burnout by Choosing Resilience Throughout Your Medical Career (2018), and Thriving in Healthcare: A Positive Approach to Reclaim Balance and Avoid Burnout in Your Busy Life (2019).  Dr. Sotile has delivered more than 9,000 talks and workshops, and has provided care and coaching to over 13,000 healthcare providers and their life-mates.  He is the founder of the Sotile Center for Resilience & the Center for Physician Resilience in Davidson, NC.

In this interview, we’ll dive into the following:

  • How Dr. Sotile is reframing his own perspective and dispelling widely held misconceptions about provider ‘burnout’, ‘life balance’ and ‘post-traumatic stress’.
  • The attitudes and behaviors we can adopt to optimize our ability to be resilient, and to experience ‘post-traumatic growth’.
  • Dr. Sotile’s recommendations for how healthcare leaders need to reframe the healthcare workplace in order to create a meaningful, resilience-enhancing environment..
  • Some of the unintended positives of the COVID-19 crisis, and the opportunity we have to carry them forward into the future.
  • The 3 major factors that contribute to resilience; and the one challenge we must overcome to attain emotional health.

I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing Dr. Sotile speak a number of times. This was the most inspiring and authentic representation of his wisdom that I’ve heard to date. Throughout our discussion, Dr. Sotile stresses the importance of re-thinking and reframing one’s perspective. And, he is clearly walking the talk here. He describes reframing as a requirement in attaining resilience and renewal. He also stresses the necessity for healthcare leaders to step up to the plate and reframe the work environment in concrete ways – such as redesigning and reorganizing the workplace, and redirecting resources (such as compensation) in order to create a supportive and healthful environment for providers and staff.  

This focus on provider resilience and well-being will be a critically important issue for our healthcare system in the post-COVID-19 era.  My favorite teaching from Dr. Sotile is his definition of ‘wonderment’ as “seeing the familiar in unfamiliar ways”, and how he encourages the healthful benefit of practicing wonderment.  I love the way that he normalizes so many behavioral concepts that have been pathologized. I have to say that I found myself experiencing wonderment during this interview, as I listened to him reframe our understanding of resilience and renewal. 

Until next time, be safe and be well.

Zeev Neuwirth, MD