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Permission - the Authentic Tea podcast with Pauline

As a life and career coach, Pauline supports fellow medics to achieve a happy and healthy work-life balance. Pauline is the founder of Doctorscaringfordoctors, and her platform encourages us to celebrate ourselves, refresh our mindsets and find clarity. As a life and mindfulness coach, Pauline is helping other doctors to find attain and sustain a progressive career and at the same time is balancing her passions in life.


In episode 18 Rach chats with Pauline, founder of Doctors Caring for Doctors. This episode was recorded on International Women's Day 2021 and it was a pleasure to hear Pauline share her inspiring story and how she is supporting other healthcare professionals.


Rach (00:00):

Today, I'm joined by Pauline. As a life and career coach Pauline supports fellow medics to achieve a happy and healthy work-life balance. Pauline is the founder of Doctors, Caring for Doctors and her platform encourages us to celebrate ourselves, refresh our mindsets and find clarity as a life and mindfulness coach Pauline is helping other doctors to find attain and sustain a progressive career. And at the same time is balancing her passions in life. Welcome Pauline.


Pauline (00:31):

Thank you, Rachel. Thank you so much for having me. I really welcome this opportunity to sit here and speak with you. That's really great. Thank you so much. And thank you for the wonderful intro. I feel special already.


Rach (00:44):

Fantastic. Well, that's just so nice to hear, and we're really pleased to have you here. So maybe we could start with your business, which is Doctors Caring for Doctors. And I know through that platform, you're sharing your coaching skills predominantly for other doctors, other medics to find their path through life. Was there a point for you when you realized you wanted to use your skills to help colleagues and when you could identify that there was a need in this particular group?


Pauline (01:12):

Well, I'll start with the latter part first, the need in the, in this particular group. And I think that sort of came to me as a slow realization through the course of my own clinical career. I, I really enjoy medicine. I really enjoy being a physician, a doctor, a listener and anaesthetist. I think it's the most amazing specialty in the world. Sorry, surgeons. But it is hard. It's tough. And I'm not talking about the bits where you have to study for long hours and work for 18 hours. I'm not talking about those bits. I'm talking about the bits where, you know, you, something happens to your patient, but there's another patient waiting and you just have to get on with it. You know, you've had to give the bad news, but there's another patient waiting, and you just have to get on with it.


Pauline (02:03):

You're watching your colleagues struggle for whatever reason, professionally or personally, and you, you, you can't find a space to, to offer help to them because you don't know how, when you, and if you did know, you don't know how they would take it, you know, it, it's just a lack of space that we have as physicians to have any room in our professional lives for who we are and who we want to be. And that discovery sort of came to me very, I would say early on in my anesthetic career, which started back in 1999. And my first experience with that is a very personal one because I moved from the Caribbean to the, the UK and shortly after my my stepfather died and he was he wasn't a stepfather in the sense of stepfather. He was my father.


Pauline (02:59):

And it was the first time that I genuinely felt compassion and care from my, from my colleagues. I mean, I really felt that they cared that I was going through this. And what made it such a profound experience is realizing that this was the first experience I ever had with that. So this idea of care doctors, caring for doctors, healthcare professionals, as a whole caring for healthcare professionals is, is, is almost an unknown. We are trained to care for our patients, but we're not trained to care for ourselves and for our own professional community. So the need for this sort of reared its head and then just continue to make itself more and more prominent. As I went through my career as a consultant I found that I was in a greater position to actually stop. And because I had that control now as a consultant to say, hang on a minute, one of us isn't right here.


Pauline (04:03):

Let's take a moment and give that, helping hand to that person. And the coaching sort of stemmed from that as well, because, because my, my second interest outside of the clinical work was medical education. So I had a lot of interactions with trainees as well as and then I was also a trust appraiser. So I had a lot of opportunity to sit with people and just give them that little bit of space, although that's what the space was not designed or designated for. I felt as if it was an opportunity to give them that space. And I made it my business to try and find the time to do it with them. And I found that quite rewarding and, and they have always come back to me and said, you know, at the time or later on that it was really helpful. And so when I expanded my career a little further afield, and I moved to Qatar after the UK, I went on to do a masters in leadership and consulting.


Pauline (05:08):

And one of the things that, that one of the modules was about coaching and mentoring, and I sort of looked at it and thought, well, hang on a minute. This is what I've actually been doing. I didn't actually know that there was a really, really a word for it. And I thought, you know what, I'm going to do this. I'm going to, I'm going to dedicate some time and space in my life and in my career to actually do this because I, I think we need, we need it. And I enjoy doing it. And I think we can only get better from it. And my vision for Doctor's caring for Doctors is not just about coaching an individual physician or, you know, that's great. And it's wonderful if I can help just one person, but we need to change the whole culture of medicine. We need to change how we view ourselves as physicians and how we view each other. And I'm going to stop talking now cause I can just keep talking about it.


Rach (06:04):

Oh, thank you. No, thank you for sharing your story and your own personal experience. And it's interesting how it evolved as your own career evolved. And something you touched on there is about the culture, which I think is really interesting because, you know, as a medical student and from most of my past jobs and SHO jobs at all of that level, there was so little that was dedicated to thinking about my own self-care thinking about the care of my colleagues or even simple practices, to be able to be more mindful and to be able to identify how I could create some space, like you say, and create that balance in my own day. So maybe you could share a bit about what the value you see for doctors coming forward now in learning some of these things at a much earlier stage of their career. So when they're at med school or in their very early sort of foundation years, what's the value there in terms of kind of getting on top of it early on, rather than all of us trying to sort of catch up as we are, we're getting further down our career.


Pauline (07:11):

One of the things we do in medicine is we're very future focused. You know, what are you going to do next, your next audit, your next presentation, your next job, your next, your next, your next, I call it the dangling carrot. They just keep walking towards the carrot and they'll go to the point of exhaustion, but I'd passed my final FRCP. And the consultant said to me all, congratulations. So what are you going to do now? And I thought, can I breathe? Can I, can I do that? And this constant living in the, in the future leaves very little space to be mindful. And it leaves little space to stop to reflect, to look, you know, literally to look around and smell the roses. And it's exhausting. It's just exhausting to constantly be, be thinking, what am I going to do next?


Pauline (08:08):

What happens? What I found happened with me personally, is I lost myself a little bit and I started feeling and whenever I did think, you know what? No, no, no, no, no. I do need to stop. Then I started, I started feeling like I wasn't like, I wasn't really doing the job of a good physician. You know, it's like, what do you mean? You're not preparing something? What do you mean you're not aiming for the next thing? What do you mean? You're just walking the dog or, you know, going for pizza or whatever, you know, you need to be doing something. And it created a sense of guilt, a sense of laziness, a little bit of imposter syndrome, because it was a bit like, well, look at what everybody else is doing. You know, this guy has just published a paper on this, you know, your friends, just, done this. And they've presented at this conference. And, and you're, you're just home watching Netflix, you know, and that is very tiring on the soul. It, it completely flattens your energy. And the other thing about it is, is you don't necessarily want to be doing these things.