MY FIRST 24:  Success Stories!!!

Pride & Gratitude For My Job

“Emily I woke up today feeling full of pride and gratitude for my job. I haven’t felt that way since I started. Thank you for helping me on this journey!!”

What a lovely thing to hear!  I just got this text yesterday from one of the doctors in the current MY FIRST 24 program.  We’ve been working together on several areas of her life and she’s truly a completely different person from when she started.

I love it!  In the following stories you'll see what kinds of changes participants in MY FIRST 24 make in their lives and how their experience of life transforms over the course of 12 weeks.


~ Emily

From MY FIRST 24 to Happy MICU Director...

Here's an update from the pulmonary & critical care physician from the success story below (see "Finding Balance")!  Her story is so amazing!  I'm so inspired by her dedication to her patients and their families, her community, to herself, and to her family.  She knew what she needed to change but didn't know how.  She came to the program with a big open heart and soaked everything up like a sponge.  She put in the work.

And she changed her life!  

She's now fulfilled and happy and healthy and balanced and because of that can continue to provide the fantastic quality care that she's known for.

Felicidades Doctora!

Finding Balance

Growth happens every single day right in front of my eyes when I listen to the docs in MY FIRST 24.  Every day!  

Here’s one the most recent breakthroughs our pulmonary/critical care physician shared with us on Saturday.  She’s in her first job out of fellowship.  Her contract is ending in a few months.  Her dream is finding balance in her life (even amidst this pandemic). 

She realized that she really really really loves the people she works with and her work setting.  She loves the patients.  She feels valued by her colleagues and the people she serves.  

But she was getting sucked into this vortex of productivity and “I have to keep up”.  One day she told me, “I saw 50 patients!”  She was exhausted.  And she was getting home super late.  She looked at herself and thought, “I’m not the wife I want to be.”

When we started our coaching journey she was so stuck in this tug-a-war between her work and the rest of her life.

So she got real honest with herself.  She realized she needed a boundary.  A really firm one.  But she didn’t know where to start.  With coaching it was easy though!  Because she decided on a new mindset and realized what her priorities were.

After looking at the numbers, she figured out that she won’t be able to stay in this job, reach her financial goals AND get home at a reasonable hour (a priority for her) unless something dramatically changed.  

So?  This happened: “I can figure out what I want and ask for it.  And I can ask for it in writing.”  BAM!!!!

She called a meeting with her boss.  She consulted with a lawyer so she’d be prepared.

AND THEN SHE WENT AND DID IT!  She asked for all the things.  And he said yes.  Of course.  Because she’s a total Rockstar!  

Now of course she still has a decision to make.  So she’ll need to figure out the mindset that will get her there.  I have no doubt she will.  

She is absolutely going to get the balance and quality of life she craves.  No doubt about it.  Because now she knows how.
Coaching Through Crisis:  a coach as a navigator

The answers are really all within our clients’ own brains.  The problem is that they don’t know how to access them.  They’ve never been asked the question quite this way or that way.  Or they’ve never been in the right brain space to be receptive.  Or whatever the case may be.

Coaching isn’t necessarily better or more effective than any other type of service.  And sometimes therapy is really more appropriate in a crisis situation.  It depends on the coach.  It depends on the client and where they’re at and what they think or hope is possible…if anything.

Every month or two there is somebody who is in such as state emotionally or physically that they text me an hour or even minutes before we’re supposed to be having an individual coaching session and they say that they can’t do it.  They need to cancel.  They’ve very apologetic.

And as their coach, as somebody who has gotten to know them quite well, I can say just the right things that encourage them to talk to me.  Even in the midst of crisis and overwhelm and, always, tears streaming down their faces.  There are always lots of apologies for the crying and lots of good, hard work that gets done.

I hold their hand and walk them through the storm.


Isn’t that awesome that we have this capability now a days to have a deep, meaningful, inspiring, and super critical experience over a virtual platform on the computer or on our phones that is so easy?!?

I think it is.

I’m super grateful and my coaching clients are grateful too.

Our lives are filled with ups and downs.  And it always will be.  I take my job as a life coach for physicians very seriously.

We have a lot of fun in our groups and in our individual sessions.  But there are also times like these where the work is serious and focused and very very brave.

And all of it is thoughtful.  And all of it is helpful.

And we all grow because of it and come out the other side transformed.

I’m inspired every single day by the women physicians I coach and the changes they’re making intentionally in their lives.

From Frustration & Resentment to Doing Our Best

Sometimes there are people at work who don’t seem to care as much as we want them to and who don’t do their job in the way we want them to.  And the way we want them to do their job might just be to actually do it.  We’re not always asking for the moon.

But guess what?

No matter how much we want somebody to care or to have compassion for our patients we can’t do a single darn thing about it.  We can’t force them to care.

And while we can help build a case or help provide evidence that there is cause for firing somebody, we usually aren’t in a position to actually make any of the relevant decisions.

So what can we do when we realize that our most precious resources (our time and our emotional and physical energy and bandwidth) are being siphoned out of us by frustrated, resentful, bitter, angry, toxic thoughts?

That’s what I asked one of the MY FIRST 24 Alumni Program docs today in our individual coaching session.

She was giving this work colleague WAY more power than she deserved.  She was allowing this person to literally drain her of her precious precious energy.

Does this person really get to have that power?  Do we want that?  NO!

What’s the story that we want to tell ourselves in those moments?  After we allow ourselves to process the anger or the frustration.  Instead of fuming and dwelling in it.  Where can we take our energy and attention and actions?

This is what she came up with.  And I love it.

“I’ll do what I can for my patients and I’ll do my best.”

And her best doesn’t involve this person who doesn’t care and who doesn’t do their job (which is to advocate for patients and connect them to the care and services they need).

And my client’s best is going to depend on her capacity and bandwidth in that moment.  And that is just fine.

Maybe that means figuring out how to work within the system in other ways to facilitate what needs to happen.  Whatever it is.  She’ll figure it out with her patients and their families.  In a way that serves the patient AND serves her, the doctor — who is also a person, and a mother and a wife and a daughter and a sister and a community advocate and a friend etc etc etc.

And guess what?  SHE DID!  Isn't it amazing what we can accomplish and how we can experience life if we give ourselves the opportunity, the permission, and the power to do it?

"It is lonely on top."

Here’s the story of another one of the docs who’s gone through MY FIRST 24.  She is a family doc and a surgeon.  She is an immigrant, a mom, a wife, a daughter with a parent fighting cancer, and she is also in leadership at their hospital.

Her husband tells her often, “It is lonely on top.”

Though they have lived in their community for many many years, she came to MY FIRST 24 feeling like she didn’t belong.  Like she could never belong.  Like nobody there could or would even want to understand her.  Much less connect with her.  Or befriend her.

She has friends.  Just not there.

She has the respect of the people around her.  Because she is a great, compassionate, dedicated physician.  And she has cultivated solid working relationships.

But there’s something missing.  She’s lonely.  She hasn’t put down roots.  She feels disconnected from the people and places all around her.  Like she doesn’t belong.

And she didn’t realize until I started coaching her that it doesn’t have to be like that — that she has the choice.

Holy Moly!  I remember the shock on her face when the breakthrough came to her.  She was so stunned.  She was completely silent.  She just sat there staring at what I had written down.  Thoughts and feelings she’s had.  The way she has been behaving this whole time.  And what that’s gotten her.  A stunned silence.

And then she let out a very big sigh.  I asked “What?”  And she said, “This has to change.  I can see that I need to change.  I want better than this.  For myself.  But also for my kids.”

And she’s doing it!  These incredibly deep set beliefs she held previously are turning around.  She’s a completely different person!  She is connecting with other female docs in the community.  A little at a time.  She’s reaching out.  And she is being let in!

She’s not alone.  She is optimistic.  Sometimes.  She sees promise.  Often.  And she’s working on it.  One step at a time.

After almost a decade of feeling like she doesn’t belong she’s finally finding herself at home.

Dream Domination

Yet another amazing story from My First 24. I’m just so inspired. What a privilege to do this work.

Francine L, MD is a pediatrician with an incredible dream. There is not nearly enough attention paid to the toll that eating disorders have on our young people. And adults too. Families struggle to (or can’t) get the comprehensive care their kids need because it doesn’t exist locally or they can’t afford it.   

This is a silent epidemic.  People aren’t talking about it. A recently published review from Current Opinion in Psychiatry mentioned that while people with other mental health disorders have experienced improvements, people with anorexia & bulimia nervosa have actually been found to have increases (worsening) in their Years Lived With Disability (YLWD). Not ok!

So this doc had a dream of building a multidisciplinary clinic for children & youth with eating disorders.  And she did it with a team of dedicated providers & staff.  But they struggled to secure funding and were unable to provide comprehensive and quality care.  So she drew a boundary last year and closed the clinic.

She came to my coaching program still passionate about the cause & committed to trying again.  But she didn’t believe in herself enough and didn’t have some of the tools she needed to be successful in a sustainable way.

Through coaching she learned to love and respect herself, to realize her power, her agency, her expertise, that there is room for her at the table and that she can totally pull up a seat.  She’s now prepared to take that chance again, to own her expertise in this field AND in what her community needs.  SHE IS DOING THIS!

This new mindset literally changed EVERYTHING.  

She’s had meetings with top level administrators within Canada’s regional public health system and with local elected officials.  She is drawing attention to this issue and framing it, as it should be, as a pressing public health need.  And the best yet?  She’s secured provisional funding for everything they need!  

What could be better?!?!  Well, that was at the end of our 12 week program.  Francine signed up for the Alumni Program to continue coaching. 

Fast forward another month and she and her co-founders had purchased a building.  Fast forward a little more and they had recruited their staff (including pediatricians and a psychiatrist).  Fast forward a little more and literally within a few months of buying their building they opened their practice.

They're going strong so far and the practice is thriving!  And, most importantly, patients and their families are getting the care they truly need. 

The Brown Of Elementary Schools


This is the story of one of the pediatricians in MY FIRST 24. 

She works at a Federally Qualified Health Center with patients she loves & colleagues she adores.  Her job as a doctor brings her joy and fulfillment.  

But they haven’t gotten a raise in 4 years and she’s dreaming about paying off her educational debt and setting financial goals with her spouse.  

And if their local public schools still aren’t in person in the Fall, she’d like to be able to send her daughter to a private kindergarten to get social time with kids her age.  "Emily, this is the Brown of elementary schools!”

We are friends from med school at Brown.  And she knows I went there for college too.  

She knows this is an incredible a privilege.  And it is a privilege they never realized was an option before.  Because they couldn’t afford it.

Until now.

When we first started coaching she was super disheartened about finances.  Not only did they have this debt and no financial plan.  She didn’t even want to think about it either.  Our default is to avoid the things that make us uncomfortable.  But then we never address them.

But now?  She’s on fire!  Because she drastically changed her mindset. 

She now thinks things like “we can optimize,” “we can swing it if we need to,” “I can figure out how”.  She feels optimism, excitement, motivation, empowerment.  She is reading a bunch and listening to financial podcasts.  She’s talking to her husband and making plans. They’re working as a team.  She figured out her Public Service Loan Forgiveness paperwork and is now on track to pay off her loans THIS YEAR!  They refinanced their house, maximized their retirement contributions and more!  

And not only that…

She asked for a raise!  “They said no. They keep saying we’re paid too much. But it has been 4 years!  So I went and found the MGMA data.  We are not even getting paid the median wage for pediatricians in our region.  So I’m going to organize the pediatricians and advocate for a raise.”

She wants to achieve her financial goals AND continue to work at her clinic serving the people she loves to serve.  She wants to have it all!  I don’t blame her.

Time For Dates!

There isn’t anything better than setting a boundary around work so that you can connect with the people you love.  


Here’s a story from one of the family docs currently in My First 24. 

“In terms of boundaries…I needed to reclaim my time.  Working from home everything bleeds into everything else.  So at the end of the day I kept finding myself in this place of wanting to wrap up and hang out with my family.  But then things got left undone and I felt like I was working constantly.

So I tried this method this week of physically / visually on my calendar I blocked time for these specific things.  I was just like “Ok, I’m just going to do it.  I’m going to figure it out at the start of the week.”  So I gave myself time to sort out my week and I was really strategic about it.  And I wasted not a second.  All week.  I did my stuff in the moment and I was done when I was supposed to.  I made myself close my computer.  And not do work after the kids’ bedtime.

I learned that there is too much to get done / more than can get done in 1 week.  BUT, I got way more done than I would have.  AND I got Friday afternoon off like I wanted to!  I was down to the wire but I said, “I’m stopping.  We’re going on a hike together.”  There was no choice.  And then we got back from the hike and my husband and I had a really nice date playing games in the backyard.  

I had the afternoon off!

I was completely exhausted because I had worked so hard all week but it felt like a great success. 

I still had some things that were undone.  It’s just going to take some planning and trying things out. 

This felt like a breakthrough week for me.”

YEAH!  So many people feel like a victim to time.  Like time (or lack of time) is oppressing us.  Reclaiming our time is what we need!  Optimizing our use of time.  Becoming our most effective selves.  That is what this empowered doctor did!  For herself and for her family.

And it felt SO GOOD!

You can do this too!  I can show you how.  

More Work Boundaries...The Biggest Show Of Self-Love

Here’s another My First 24 physician story shared with permission.

“I’m really getting into this whole boundary thing.  And I’m realizing how close that is connected to self love.  And from me and my total lack of boundaries I’ve totally not loved myself this whole time.  So I have so much gratitude for this course.

Self love is a concept that I’ve never thought of before.  Until you explained it to me I thought that you meant sort of being full of yourself.  But once you explained it I realized that I needed to learn more about this.  I realized that I’m always wanting to hear approving feedback from other people.  That’s what motivates me.  The “oh look at you putting in all those extra hours” type comments.  But now I’m looking around and realizing that I’m doing all of this and nobody is saying anything.  If anything they’re complaining that I’m not doing enough.  That it is always “too hard to get in to see” me.  And leadership doesn’t show any appreciation either.

What really matters though is what I’m seeing in myself. 

So what do I see?  I see somebody who is just doing stuff so other people can see it.  Not setting boundaries.  Working hard in an office where there is no management.  The doctors are constantly just using their own guilt to get things done.  I wish that money drove me.  Because then at least it wouldn’t be what I see now.  All I see now is that all of this lack of self love was driving me.  It was “Oh, my patients are going to be sad that Dr ______ didn’t come to see me on Saturday.”  I’ve been bending over backwards to do all these things so that everyone watching would be happy.  Not because it was making me happy or even getting me anything that I wanted at all.

Setting boundaries around my work is a huge show of love for myself.  I can fix the things I want to fix.  I can enjoy the time I have left in medicine.  AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!  Instead of feeling fed up and angry and unappreciated I can feel happy and self-confident and love.  That’s way better.

Thank you.

More Work Boundaries..."I'm not going to do the nurse's work anymore."

Yet another story from a My First 24 surgeon who gave me permission to share…. 

“Our nurse has been out on an extended leave for 6 months and [our organization] has put next to 0 effort into finding a replacement.  She does the testing for my patients before surgery.  

I had been coming in on my day off and doing the nurse’s work.  And so I documented it with a formal e-mail.  I said, “I’m no longer coming in on my day off to do [name of nurse]’s testing.  Those patients are going to wait until she comes back or you find a replacement.”

So I set a boundary.   

And it feels good but it is hard for me is because of the patients.  Right now we have 9 patients on the wait list for testing.  Our daily average adding to that list is 1-2 patients every day.  She’s not due back until June!   

I went into medicine to help people.  So that’s hard.  But right now that’s a boundary.”

Me:  You’re assuming that this boundary you’re drawing is going to make life worse for your patients.  That is an easy assumption to make.  But, it is an assumption.  And the question is, is it better for your patients if you don’t draw this boundary?  Is it better if they don’t have to wait and you go in tomorrow on your day off and do their testing yourself and then in another month or two you get super burnt out?  Or if you say, “I’m fed up with this I’m leaving”?  

Surgeon shakes her head.

Me:  That is not better.  You taking care of yourself is actually better for them in the long run.

Surgeon:  “Yes.  I know that conceptually but I don’t quite feel it in my heart.  But then, a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t draw these boundaries in the first place!  So I think I can get there.”  

Me:  Right.  You didn’t have the self-confidence.  You were a different person back then.  Somebody who hadn’t drawn boundaries at work, who was scared, and didn’t know that they could feel all the discomfort and still be fine.  And who could decide to say no and then follow through.

Surgeon:  I’m going to write this down and brainstorm some new beliefs that I can have instead of this assumption that their life is going to be worse because I’m not going in on my day off to do this testing.”

And our session continued and she did come up with all kinds of amazing beliefs that she actually does have that are truths for her that show that drawing this boundary was the right thing for her.  And that there are other ways to serve her patients and do surgeries and have experiences that are even more fulfilling for her in the meantime while she waits for her nurse to come back.  

We had a lovely coaching session… I hope you’re getting the picture reading these experiences.  Docs in this program are experiencing life differently than they were before.  They’re turning into different people.  They’re empowered.  They’re brave.  They’re connected.  They’re present.  They’re self-confident.  And so much more.

You can have the life you want too.  I can show you how.  AND I can give you CME credit!  

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