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Episode 43: You Are Not Broken: How to Re-Align Your Life and Career

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“The culture needs to shift. How we’re showing up and caring for others has to shift,” explains Dr. Kathy Stepien, MD, FAAP. Dr. Kathy is the founding Director of the Institute for Physician Wellness, a pediatrician, a certified physician coach, and host of the She Thrives MD Podcast. Through her physician wellness retreats, wellness training and certification program and other teachings, she has helped thousands of women physicians since 2016 to rethink their priorities and realign their lives and careers to match. People are constantly developing and changing, so the life you created for yourself at 18 or 20 might not be in alignment with the life you want for yourself now in your 30s or 40s and beyond. If you find that your priorities have shifted, it could be time to consider re-alignment.

The culture in medicine unfortunately is not the kindest to physicians and encourages maladaptive behaviors. While changes have begun to be made, there is a long way to go for the culture to be healthy for both patients and everyone working in healthcare. By taking a step back and getting back into your own body, you can reassess how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way, and then make a plan for how to make improvements. When you are stressed out and just going through the motions, it is hard to think clearly and intuitively about what you want for your life. 

By taking the time to step back and reconnect with your body and mind, you will be able to access a higher level of thinking which will help you to make better decisions about your priorities and the life you want. We are constantly growing and changing, so periodically it can be very beneficial to take time for re-aligning your life with your current goals and values.

About Kathy Stepien, MD, FAAP, Founder of The Institute for Physician Wellness:

Dr. Stepien is a board-certified Pediatrician in active practice and the founding director of The Institute for Physician Wellness. She graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Prior to entering medicine, she practiced Physical Therapy for many years. She also holds a graduate degree in Philosophy where she focused on applied ethics. Dr. Stepien has published in the medical literature as well as in the lay press on topics affecting physician wellness. She is a certified Physician Coach, and has training in teaching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as well as Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). She received the Victorian Cross Humanitarian Award in 2018 for her ongoing contributions to physician well-being.

In This Episode We're Talking About:

  • It’s 100% possible to enjoy your life in and outside of medicine
  • Your life, health and happiness matter too
  • As we develop across the span of our careers, it’s normal to have different priorities, goals and values
  • Re-alignment with what matters most to you is central to meaningful work, especially in a broken medical system


  • “It can be really hard to believe that it’s possible to love your life inside of medicine.” (20:29-20:35 | Dr. Kathy)


  • “Some of these problems can’t be figured out just logically and rationally. We need to do some healing and we need to do some feeling forward, not just thinking our way forward.” (22:29-22:38 | Dr. Kathy)


  • “Whatever cognitive shifts we have, whatever new knowledge and skills we develop, the brain, the limbic systems dialed down a bit and we actually can have higher order thinking and see things more intuitively and clearly about oh yeah, this is what I love to do, and this is actually what I don’t want to be doing anymore. It opens the world up to new ideas and new potential.” (24:40-25:02 | Dr. Kathy)


  • “The culture of medicine really shapes our behavior and reinforces some maladaptive patterns.” (29:21-29:27 | Dr. Kathy)


  • “The culture needs to shift. How we’re showing up and caring for others has to shift. Which is wonderful, because it allows us to be human beings, rather than just kind of robots who are running around hurriedly trying to click the boxes and close the chart and move out of the equation.” (30:28-30:48 | Dr. Kathy)

Links for this Episode:

Connect with Kathy Stepien, MD, FAAP:

Connect with Dr. Lara Salyer:

Thank You For Listening!

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About The Catalyst Host, Dr. Lara Salyer:

I worked as a family physician for 15 years until burnout changed the trajectory of my career. I realized I wanted to start a holistic functional medicine practice in my rural hometown and made it happen. In addition to practicing functional medicine, I now mentor practitioners who are looking to change their paths in healthcare by using what I refer to as the “Catalyst Roadmap”. I share each step of this framework with listeners so that they may apply it to their careers, relationships, personal goals, and projects. 

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