Newsletter #8

  Your Weekly Dose of Positive Medicine 

Although talent feels and looks predestined, in fact we have a good deal of control over what skills we develop, and we have more potential than we might ever presume to guess.“

–Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code


Ever wonder why you are not improving? Ever wonder why your career has plateaued? For many, we have been at this “job” for a while, and if you are like most people, our learning and performance has plateaued. Mostly, you’ve stopped getting better at what you do. 


As physicians, we are no stranger to delaying gratification. Compared to our non-medical colleagues, we have spent an excessive amount of time reaching the rank of “doctor.” We had been preparing for that day since high school, and once that destination is reached, we exhale completely and become comfortable. 


To achieve a lifetime of wellness, graduating from medical school is only the beginning of our journey, not a destination. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many years you have been practicing; most physicians fail to become experts in their field. While, yes, we have a remarkable ability to consume information, there are limits to how far we can advance without deliberate practice. 


To transition from doctor to expert, from average to extraordinary, from “just trying to make it through my shift” to a lifetime of wellness, we need to practice deliberately and intentionally.

In this week’s ideas, Harry Karydes, DO, an ER Physician and member of our editorial board, explores two key concepts that enable physicians to thrive both personally and professionally.

Harry is also featured in our Physicians Helping Physicians Spotlight for the great work he is doing to help physicians overcome burnout.



I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

-Bruce Lee


This article discusses the origins of deliberate practice and how we can use it to improve our lives.

The idea of mastering a skill was popularized by New York Times Bestseller, Malcolm Gladwell, in his wonderfully written book Outliers. In his book, Gladwell tries to answer the question, “what makes high achievers different?” He opines that we, as a society, pay way too much attention to what successful people are like instead looking at the subtle differences that make them outliers. Along the way, he explains secrets such as what made the Beatles great and why some software developers are billionaires while others can’t even make it past start-up status.


While, yes, their culture, family, and idiosyncracies shape their success, it is this claim that that greatness requires an enormous amount of time–specifically 10,000 hours. In this book, he cites the 1993 work of K. Anders Ericsson, a Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. 


Since Gladwell’s claim, Professor Ericsson has sought to clarify Gladwell’s interpretation. In fact, Ericsson mentions that his study does not suggest a “magic number” for achieving greatness. His research revealed that, on average, elite performers practiced 10,000 hours. More importantly, Ericsson showed that mastery of skill could be achieved using concrete, very focused, deliberate practice. 


While regular practice may include mindless repetition of a specific task or routine, deliberate practice is purposeful and mentally demanding. It’s hard. It requires an intense level of focus and concentration to improve performance–the go beyond your current level. 


Simply put, deliberate practice is demanding–incredibly demanding. 


But it works. 




2.  Goal Setting for Physician Wellness

Setting goals is the first step toward turning the invisible to visible.

–Tony Robbins


This article explains the framework that physicians can use to set and achieve worthwhile goals that will ultimately improve their well-being.

All too often, we enter into a state of stasis and comfort and go about our workday, and frankly, our personal life is “comfortable” with the way things are. This is not a recipe for growth, success, or wellness. We are in this for the long term, and building processes to be intentional is just the first step.


Goals allow us to push ourselves to achieve something more significant than your current reality. While there are many ways to begin this journey, I have found using SMART Goals the most successful. 





Being crystal clear and specific on your goal is vital. Wanting to lose weight is a dream. Wanting to lose 10 lbs is a goal. Wanting to lose 10 pounds by April is a better goal. Wanting to lose 10 pounds in April so I can look good in my outfit for my medical school reunion is a specific goal. Your chance toward success is niching down to this very granular level. 



When you measure something, you can track your progress and know when you achieve a goal. This is relatively easy for us. We track vital signs, lab work, and patient status daily. We want to continue using skills that we know and transfer them to our personal and professional goals. As an example, wanting to make more money is an aspiration. Wanting to grow my consulting business by 10% is a specific, measurable goal.



As high achieving physicians, we are comfortable setting the bar high, but make sure the “bar” is feasible. All too often, we set lofty goals with no intention of achieving them, which leads to resentment, frustration, and burnout. This step in goal setting is meant to inspire motivation, not to discourage. 



Similar to achievable, your goal must be realistic. Wanting to work two days a week and earning a 7 figure salary is not a realistic goal for most of us. Find a goal that fits your current reality and lifestyle and work to progressing further each day, week, and year.



Having a hard time stamp on your goal will focus and ground you. This adds a sense of urgency to the goal. A goal without a date is a dream. 


This week we are featuring Dr. Harry Karydes who is a board-certified emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist and currently serves as the medical director of the emergency department.  He completed his residency and fellowship training at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago.  He has been in practice for 11 years. 

Dr. Karydes knows what it feels like to be pulled in five different directions at work and at home. He discovered that success at work and home begins with the individual. He helps overwhelmed physicians, residents, medical students succeed professionally and personally. His mission is to give you the courage and tools to learn, grow, and thrive in the important areas of your life. To live a life of focus and balance. 

If you want to learn the tips, habits, and rituals successful leaders use–inside and outside medicine please go to
Also, one can subscribe to the podcast at

1. Can you tell us a little about your career path and what led you to your current role?


The road to emergency medicine for me began in college. Quite innocently, I joined a friend who was taking an EMT-B course on campus. Both of us really enjoyed college sports, and the only way to get “front row seats” at our football or basketball games was to be part of the medical team. This was our ticket to see the action up close and personal!


I fell in love with emergency medicine! I enjoyed being the first on scene and, often, not even knowing what or who we were responding to was exciting to me. After graduation, I had a tough decision to make–do I pursue medical school with the goal of working as an emergency physician or do I go to paramedic school and become a paramedic.


I began working as a paramedic in Chicago and was wide-eyed every time I would bring a critical patient in the ED. The emergency physician truly epitomized the “captain of the ship” persona, and I wanted to be a part of it. I was hooked and took the plunge into medical school and have never looked back.


2. Given the state of mental health in medicine, how can physicians (trained as lone wolves in a culture that often pits us against each other) form a cohesive community that can help to support each other?


As physicians and hospital systems become more siloed, we are losing the importance of face-to-face interactions. Many physician lounges are empty. We miss out on the camaraderie created when we gather and share a meal or a conversation with a colleague. 


Creating a space for physicians and encouraging them to engage is a significant first step. Also, encouraging physicians to join their wellness committee is often overlooked, but an increasingly important organization that can help build a culture of community and growth. 


3. What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What are you most excited about now? 

I work clinically and administratively in emergency medicine. Clinically, I enjoy the patient-physician relationship. I appreciate the responsibility of walking with patients during their time of need and working toward health. Administratively, I enjoy leading my department toward smart solutions that empower physicians, nurses, and paramedics as they work with their own wellness–personally and professionally.


I am excited about serving our physicians and nurses as I walk with them on their path toward wellness. I created Medicine Revived ( for just this purpose. I enjoy creating actionable resources, concrete habits, and daily rituals that I use in my everyday life to help colleagues build the life that they have always wanted, inside and outside of medicine. 


4. What do you wish you had known as a young physician? 

One of the benefits of working as an emergency physician is the shift work. You work your shift, and then you are done for the day (or night). Unless you work administratively, you don’t get texts or pings on your phone from patients, consultants, or hospital administration. While that surely is a benefit, most emergency physicians will have a rotating schedule meaning that in any given week, you will likely work a day shift, an afternoon shift, and possibly a night shift.


This, in time, can wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm. The adjustment is more effortless early in your career but becomes harder with each year in practice. I have found developing a ritual upon awakening and another ritual just before I go to sleep (whatever hour that may be) has been a game-changer for me. These rituals bookend my day, and I defend them fiercely.  

Registration now open for the 2020 Virtual Conference

Thanks to our editorial board!

Jordyn Feingold, MAPP
David Fessell, MD FACR
Harry Karydes, DO
Sanj Katyal, MD FACR
Rajiv Kinkhabwala, MD

If you are interested in submitting an article for publication or joining our editorial team, please simply reply to this email! 


Two Quick Things Before You Go…

As physicians, now more than ever, we desperately need to do a better job of supporting each other.  If you are struggling with the current demands of medicine, please know that a FREE confidential formalized peer support for physicians by physicians is finally in place. Contact Physicians Confidential

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