Life Changing Moments: Creativity as Therapy, Dr. Peter Valenzuela

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Moral Injury isn’t healed with a band-aid and a pat on the back. The physician’s work life is filled with pitfalls and frustration. For Dr. Peter Valenzuela, art and writing has been an integral component to coping with the sometimes comical, but always frustrating world of healthcare.

And, if you find yourself having challenges managing burnout, maybe talking with a coach will help.  Visit us at


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PHYSICIANS BY PHYSICIANS. It showcases unique physician talents, whether it be in the form of writing, painting, creating cookie masterpieces, or storming capital hill in the name of healthcare advocacy. Use promo code RxforSuccess to get three months free when selecting the monthly option.

When not focused on his duties as the President of Integris Health Medical Group in Oklahoma City, Dr. Valenzuela channels his energy into Doc-Related, his online comic that offers a satirical look at the challenges of practicing clinical medicine through the eyes of health care professionals. His comics have been fondly referred to as “Dilbert for Health Care.”
Along with his medical degree from UT Southwestern, Peter earned a master’s in business administration from Auburn University. In addition, Dr. Valenzuela holds a greenbelt certificate for six sigma in healthcare from Villanova University and a healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship certificate from Duke University. He’s also studied design thinking via IDEO U and is a certified trainer through The Innovator’s DNA. He lives in Sacramento with his wife Vivian— a Sonoma Valley winemaker — and their cat, Zöe.

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Access the Show Transcript Here

LCM 31: Creativity as Therapy: Dr. Peter Valenzuela

Dr. Peter Valenzuela talks about his comic Doc Related, which highlights healthcare issues, burnout in medicine, and the therapeutic benefits for physicians. Resources for physicians are shared as well.

2023, Dr. Dael Waxman
Life Changing Moments

Produced by Clawson Solutions Group (

Generated Shownotes


0:00:00 Questioning Provider Satisfaction Metrics
0:02:29 Dr. Valenzuela’s Professional Journey and Leadership Roles
0:04:02 The Spark that Inspired Dr. Valenzuela to Create Doc Related
0:07:55 Dr. Valenzuela’s Approach to Writing Satirical Comic Strips
0:09:32 Frustration with EHR System
0:11:12 Poor Communication in Healthcare
0:12:47 Overwhelmed Doctor? This Virtual Conference is Your Solution.
0:13:41 Introduction to Rx for Success and MD Coaches
0:14:43 Introducing Physician Outlook: A Magazine for Physicians
0:15:52 Bridging the Gap of Communication through Satire
0:17:35 Finding Therapeutic Outlet for Burnout Struggles
0:19:32 Sacrificing Personal Time to Complete Physician Workload
0:23:10 Writing and Creating as Therapeutic Release for Burnout
0:24:46 Impact of Comics on Mental Health and Personal Growth
0:27:12 Advice for Physicians: Beyond Medicine and Money
0:28:48 A Farewell and Well Wishes for Success
0:29:09 Peter Valenzuela: Combating Burnout in Healthcare
0:30:46 Need Help Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone? Consider Coaching.

Long Summary

In this episode, we have a fascinating conversation with Dr. Peter Valenzuela, a family physician and chief medical officer, who channels his energy into creating Doc Related, an online comic that satirizes the challenges of practicing clinical medicine. Dr. Valenzuela discusses the dynamic between clinicians and administrators in healthcare and how his comic serves as a way to bring awareness to common issues in the industry.

The comic strip has a broad audience, including physicians, advanced practice providers, clinical staff, and administrators. While some administrators love the comics, others feel mocked by them. Dr. Valenzuela explains that the aim is to shed light on the everyday realities of healthcare in a satirical way, believing that presenting information with humor and truthfulness helps it resonate with people. The majority of the comics are based on real experiences or potential scenarios in healthcare.

The impact of the comics has been surprising, with a significant audience not only in the US but also overseas. People from other countries have reached out to Dr. Valenzuela, wanting to incorporate the comics into their messaging with local governments and organizations to highlight the challenges they face. The comics are made available for free because the main goal is to spread the message.

One of the most popular comic strips revolves around the Electronic Health Record (EHR), resonating with many as it showcases the frustrations physicians face when using this system. The comic strip serves to stimulate conversations and understanding through posts on social media, where additional context is provided, and dialogue is encouraged.

Dr. Valenzuela highlights the importance of incorporating diverse voices in healthcare leadership, as organizations led by physicians tend to perform better in quality metrics. Including different perspectives at the executive table strengthens efforts to provide optimal care for people.

During the conversation, Dr. Valenzuela also discusses a Virtual Caregiver Conference that aims to provide doctors with resources and information to navigate the financial and caregiving aspects of their practice. The conference is designed to save time, money, and sanity by providing all the necessary resources in one place.

Listeners are also introduced to other resources related to healthcare. The podcast Rx for Success features medical professionals discussing their career growth and overcoming challenges. For those looking for specific solutions to management or administration problems, MD Coaches offers coaching as a faster way to get help. Additionally, Physician Outlook, a magazine created by and for physicians, is promoted on the podcast, providing a unique perspective on physician lifestyle.

The interviewee shares their personal experience of juggling the role of a family doctor with leadership responsibilities while also dealing with the problems faced by other physicians. They discuss the challenges physicians face, such as pre-authorization regulations, insurance documentation requirements, and the lack of autonomy. Creating the comic strip serves as a therapeutic outlet for the interviewee, helping them put their experiences on paper, release pent-up emotions, and connect with others who can relate to their struggles. The therapeutic nature of creating and the positive feedback received have had a positive impact on their mental health and self-worth.

The episode concludes with the speaker sharing some advice given at a residency graduation, emphasizing that being a physician is not their entire identity and encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones and make wise use of their money. The speaker also invites listeners to check out Doc Related and consider coaching if they’re feeling stuck or burned out.

Overall, this episode offers valuable insights into the everyday realities of healthcare, the importance of diverse perspectives in leadership, and the therapeutic benefits of creative outlets in addressing burnout in the medical profession.

Brief Summary

In this episode, we speak with Dr. Peter Valenzuela, creator of Doc Related, an online comic that satirizes the challenges of practicing clinical medicine. Dr. Valenzuela discusses the impact of his comics in highlighting healthcare issues, the importance of diverse leadership in healthcare, and the therapeutic benefits of creative outlets for physicians. He also shares resources for physicians, including a Virtual Caregiver Conference and Rx for Success podcast. Overall, this episode offers valuable insights into healthcare realities and addressing burnout in the medical profession.


Dr. Peter Valenzuela, Doc Related, online comic, satirizes, challenges, clinical medicine, healthcare issues, diverse leadership, therapeutic benefits, creative outlets, physicians, Virtual Caregiver Conference, Rx for Success podcast, healthcare realities, addressing burnout, medical profession

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Questioning Provider Satisfaction Metrics

[0:00] And I said, look, you had 90 plus percent provider satisfaction survey response rates. You know, what did you do with the responses?
You know, how did you improve the provider satisfaction scores?
And he said, well, actually, our bonus dashboard for the administrators is set on provider satisfaction survey completion, not on how happy they are.
And I just couldn’t, you know, I really couldn’t believe it.
You know, I leaned over to another physician next to him and I was like, man, you can’t make this stuff up.
There are times in our lives that change the way we see the world.
Navigating these challenges can take insight, trusted confidants, or even a coach. Let’s explore those moments.
In this companion podcast to Rx for Success, we will discover ways to learn and write our own success stories together.
I’m Dr. Dale Waxman, a physician coach with MD Coaches, And this is Life-Changing Moments.

[1:02] On other episodes of this podcast, we have discussed the all-too-common malady of physician burnout.
Previous guests have discussed their journey into and out of burnout, including strategies to deal with it and prevent it in the future.
Among those strategies discussed here, we have not yet heard the use of creating satire to work through the challenges of burnout.
Until now. My guest today is Dr. Peter Valenzuela.
Dr. Valenzuela is a family physician who has experienced the full gamut of a physician’s professional life, including practice in rural Texas, academics, and medical leadership.
Currently, he is the chief medical officer of a large multi-specialty medical group in California.

[1:50] As we will hear about, Well, Dr. Valenzuela channels some of his energy into Doc Related, his online comic that offers a satirical look at the challenges of practicing clinical medicine through the eyes of healthcare professionals.
He is also the author of Doc Related, a Physician’s Guide to Fixing Our Ailing Healthcare System.

[2:14] Dr. Valenzuela’s entertaining path into medicine story is chronicled in the Rx for Success podcast, number 150.
I highly recommend a listen. Peter, welcome to Life Changing Moments.

Dr. Valenzuela’s Professional Journey and Leadership Roles

[2:30] Oh, happy to be here. Thanks so much for having me on your show. It’s great to have you.
And I’d like to just begin with having you recount for listeners, since many of may not have heard the RX for Success podcast.
Can you just share a little bit about what you’re doing professionally right now? Yeah, sure.
So, in my current role, I oversee a large group of medical professionals, approximately 500 plus physicians and clinicians in the Sacramento area.
And then, with that, and I know you’ve been there a few years now, right? Correct, yes. Yeah.
And this is after some other leadership positions that you’ve had as well.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, so I started my career as a rural family physician in West Texas and then I became the Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs for Texas Tech in the Odessa Midland area and then I took on the role of Chair of Family Medicine on my way to Washington State where I started looking at or overseeing larger medical groups, multi-specialty groups of physicians.

[3:32] You’ve been through the sort of all different sort of dimensions of healthcare all the way from clinical practice to also being in leadership administration if you will. Correct. Yeah, definitely.

[3:44] I’ve seen both sides of the table is what I joke about. Both sides of the table, exactly.
And I want to get into that a little bit later, just sort of that us-them kind of dynamic that can sometimes happen between clinicians and administrators.
And you’re needing to straddle that line as I understand it. Yeah.

The Spark that Inspired Dr. Valenzuela to Create Doc Related

[4:02] Yeah. So, let’s jump into your comic.
So, during the podcast with Randy, you shared the impetus for creating the comic and apparently you were at a conference listening to a presentation.

[4:14] About increasing survey participation rates by physicians and you heard something that sparked something in you.
Do you mind retelling that story? Sure, yeah. I was at a conference that we were talking about provider satisfaction and trying to get, you know, physicians to at least enjoy their work experience more.
And there was an administrator that presented about how his organization had increased their provider satisfaction survey response rates.
And we kind of started by saying, you know, early on our provider satisfaction survey response rates were in the 30%, you know, completion rates.
And we took active measures to improve that, you know. some of the interventions they had included, you know, having a raffle for physicians who completed their surveys within the first few weeks.
And then they kind of advanced to having, you know, a pizza party for the departments that had the highest completion rate of the provider satisfaction surveys.
And then they kind of moved over to including it as part of the incentive bonus for physicians at the end of the year if they completed their provider satisfaction survey reports.
And they were actually pretty successful. You know, the interventions they used got their response rates above 90% completion of their provider satisfaction surveys.

[5:35] So, you know, after his presentation people applauded him and he took questions and I raised my hand.
And I said, look, you had 90 plus percent provider satisfaction survey response rates. You know, what did you do with the responses?
You know, how did you improve the provider satisfaction scores?
And he said, well, actually, our bonus dashboard for the administrators is set on provider satisfaction survey completion, not on how happy they are.
And I just couldn’t, you know, I really couldn’t believe it.
You know, I leaned over to another physician next to him and I was like, man, you can’t make this stuff up, you know?
It just really was the misalignment of incentives that we see in healthcare.
And really, the fact that going through the motions of saying you care about your physicians and clinicians’ happiness while not doing anything about it is just so contradictory.
And that really sparked my idea for saying, look, these types of things that happen in healthcare all the time, how can I message this to other people to make them aware to where it becomes a little bit more digestible?
And that’s where the idea for Doc Related happened.
Yeah, so how soon after that did you write your first comic strip?
It was probably a few months. You know, it took me a while to start developing the characters and who I wanted to include as my characters in the comic.
And I also wanted to look at multiple generations of people working together.

[7:03] Multiple cultures working together, and really inclusive of not just the physicians but also some administrative staff and even you know some of the frontline staff as well.

[7:14] And where does your audience reside? You know, I think they’re pretty much a little bit of everywhere, you know most of my audience is physicians, but I do have a lot of Advanced practice providers as well as clinical staff and administrators, you know, I have some administrators who really love my comics I have others who feel like I’m mocking them even though I am also an administrator So it’s just a broad range of people So, can you say a little bit about your approach to this, to writing the comic strip, in some ways illuminating or actually talking about what we all see every day anyway, in somewhat of a satirical way, towards what end?

Dr. Valenzuela’s Approach to Writing Satirical Comic Strips

[7:55] Yeah, you know, it was funny, Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite writers and authors, you know, he’s written so many popular books.
But one of the things that he said was, he talks about satire, And he says, when you code a bitter truth with satire, it helps the medicine go down.
And that really stuck with me, was what can I do to show this information in a way that’s funny but truthful?
And really, I would say 95 plus percent of my comics are really based on something that either happened or could happen within the care setting.
And that’s what’s so funny about it. Yeah, so there’s the humor aspect of it.
And then what about change? Does it, from what you understand, does it initiate something to make things a little bit better?

[8:39] Yeah, it’s been interesting to see how broad the comics have gone.
You know, I do have an audience in the U.S., but I actually have quite an audience overseas as well.
I’ve had people reach out to me from other countries to say, hey, listen, the comic you did on the electronic health record actually hits us a little bit, you know, and would you mind if we incorporated some of your comics into our messaging with our local governments and organizations to share some of the challenges that we have.
And you know, it’s been pretty flattering to have those people reach out to me.
And you know, my comics are online and they’re free. I don’t charge for them.
So they always approach me to say, you know, can I purchase that?
And that’s not something that I’ve done because I really just want to get the message out there.
If I remember correctly, you correct me if I’m wrong, I think you came up with EMR, stands for early mandatory retirement. Correct.

Frustration with EHR System

[9:32] That’s awesome and I know, I mean, there’s so much truth to that.
Yeah, no, there really is and you know in my book I mentioned one of the physicians that I was working with who, you know, he was already in his, you know, late, you know, 60s and and was seeing patients, and it took him 20 plus minutes to try to enter a vaccine order in the EHR.
And he just, you know, he was like, I just can’t do this anymore.
I’m just, how do I get a vaccine order? You know, it was so, so, so frustrating for him. Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Well, you know, you mentioned something about you are also an administrator, and we talked just a few minutes ago about there is this us-them, quality that I know predominantly from the clinician’s point of view.
I was also an administrator at one point too.
But there’s this us, them quality that exists and when the cartoons may speak to one over the other, I wonder if it doesn’t continue to reinforce some of the views that especially clinicians have of administrators.

[10:38] And is that a, you know, so what are your thoughts about that?
Yeah, so one of the things that I do when I post my comics, at least, you know, not necessarily on my website, but on social media, is I will post a comic and also write something underneath it to try to stimulate conversations.
When we talk about us, them, one of the biggest challenges in healthcare is really those dynamics of communication or poor communication between physicians and administrators.
And it’s not necessarily that administrators are being dishonest or that physicians are being difficult.

Poor Communication in Healthcare

[11:12] It’s just a lot of it has to do with how people were trained and educated in their backgrounds. Word connotations vary from one specialty to the other.
And that’s what I do a lot of. I have comics where I have doctors that say, I’m super excited.
I just met with my administrator, and he’s going to give me a new medical assistant.

[11:32] Or she’s going to give me a new medical assistant. And then the other doctor says, well, how did they say it?
Well, they said that they’re going to explore it. They’re going to evaluate the possibility for me. And I’m just excited.
I really need one. And again, exploring and evaluating doesn’t mean you’re going to get one.
It just means they’re going to look into it, right? And I think those are the little nuances that occur on a daily basis where physicians say, well, that person lied to me.
Well, that person really didn’t lie to you, but it’s just the way you understood it.
And that’s at the core of a lot of what happens in healthcare.
The key is really building trust and communication.
And statistically, physicians resonate a little bit more when they have physician leaders in higher roles. And that’s something that I bring up.
And it’s not to say every leader needs to be a doctor, but there are statistics that show that physician-led organizations score 25% higher on quality metrics than other organizations, the same level.
And so I think the key to improving healthcare is also incorporating the voice of everybody.
Unfortunately, in a lot of organizations, leadership core tends to be non-physician or non-clinical.
And having more diversity at the executive table help strengthen you know what it is you’re trying to do for people.

Overwhelmed Doctor? This Virtual Conference is Your Solution.

[12:47] Are you a doctor struggling to provide the best care for your patients while dealing with financial and caregiving matters out of the scope of your practice?
Do you find yourself scrambling to keep up with the latest resources and wish there was an easier way?
Then this Virtual Caregiver Conference will save you time, money, and sanity by giving you all the resources and information your patients need in one place.
This conference helps you and your patients enlist the best strategies around healthcare resources and the best financial steps for your patients while navigating caregiving situations.
You don’t have to go home feeling frustrated and helpless because you couldn’t connect your patients with the best services. Find out more at, slash conference or click the link in the show notes. We look forward to seeing you at the Caregiver Conference.

Introduction to Rx for Success and MD Coaches

[13:41] Hi, I’m Rhonda Crowe, founder and CEO for MD Coaches.
Here on Rx for Success, we interview a lot of great medical professionals on how they grew their careers, how they overcame challenges, and how they handle day-to-day work. I really hope you’re getting a lot of great information.
But if you’re looking for an answer to a specific problem, management or administration challenge, or if you’re feeling just a bit burnt out, like maybe you chose the wrong career, well, then there’s a faster way to get the help you need.
No, it’s not counseling, it’s coaching.
Rx for Success is produced by MD Coaches, a team of physicians who have been where you are.
I know you’re used to going it alone, but you don’t have to.
Get the support you need today. Visit us at, to schedule your complimentary consultation. Again, that’s, because you’re not in this alone.

Introducing Physician Outlook: A Magazine for Physicians

[14:43] We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment, but right now, I want to tell you a little bit about Physician Outlook.
If you haven’t discovered this remarkable magazine, please do so very soon.
It was created by physicians for physicians to showcase the intersection between clinical and non-clinical interests.
Whether it’s writing, painting, cooking, politics, and dozens of other topics, Physician Outlook gives a physician perspective.
It’s available online and in print. It’s really unique among physician lifestyle magazines, and like the Prescription for Success podcast, Physician Outlook amplifies the voice of any physician who has something to say.
It also engages patients who still believe in physician-led, team-based care.
And Prescription for Success listeners can get three months free when you enter our promo code RX4Success and select the monthly option at checkout.
That’s a really great deal on this stunning publication.
And now, let’s get back to today’s interview.

Bridging the Gap of Communication through Satire

[15:52] You know, it sounds, Peter, like one of your goals with the comic strip is actually bridging that gap of communication.
It’s informing those who don’t really understand the other side a little bit more about the way that they think.
Yeah, definitely. And again, just going to my book, I have a chapter dedicated to nothing but that and how we can improve that communication.
And some of those, you know, interventions include putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
We’re starting to see administrators shadow physicians to see what the day in the life is, right?
What if we reciprocated that with physicians who could attend these executive table meetings and hear what the conversations are about and understand why decisions are made?
I read a survey that said that only 16% of organizations consider the impact of their strategic decisions on the wellness of those people affected by it.
And I think that’s really eye-opening, you know, to think about that.

[16:50] But what about if those people were at the table, or if you could get some feedback from those people before decisions were made? That might change the dialogue.
Yeah, absolutely. That could be a topic of a whole other podcast, and I really appreciate you for discovering that, illuminating that, and then taking that to the next level.
So you’re exactly the kind of leader that we need in the settings that you’re in. But I want to shift us to where we started, which was this concept of satire as a way of moving through burnout.
And I want to play a little clip from the interview from Randy in which you talk a little bit about one of the reasons that you continue doing it.

Finding Therapeutic Outlet for Burnout Struggles

[17:35] You know, I haven’t. I think initially I did this, it was more for myself. It was therapeutic.
You know, I was much like a lot of physicians and clinicians struggling with burnout myself and this was an outlet for me.
You know, being able to draw, being able to be humorous and being able to address something that was frustrating really helped me therapeutically.
So, I would just wonder if you can kind of go back to whatever that was for you, whatever that sort of struggling with some of the symptoms of burnout and how this was helpful to you.
Sure. Yeah, no, I appreciate you sharing that, really kind of allowing me to reflect a little bit more.
You know, I think that when you look statistically that over 50% of physicians, are burned out, And this has been a kind of a constant statistic, you know, it’s been five plus years and very little has changed.
In fact, you know, COVID made it worse.
It’s really disheartening to think that we haven’t been able to solve this.
And, you know, when I talk about burnout, it’s feeling that, you know, that kind of moral injury of knowing that you want to do what’s best for your patients.
But if you try to do what’s best for your patients, you really never sleep, you know. You know, we live now in an era where your EMR is accessible to you 24 hours a day.
I’ve got it on my phone, you know, so if there’s a message from a patient or a question from a clinical person, you pretty much see it instantaneously.

[19:04] And I think as physicians, we’ve been trained to be very diligent and to complete our tasks and our work.
And when you try to finish your day and you see that you have 20 to 30 emails or you have lab results or you have other things that need to be addressed and there’s no one helping you do that.
You feel obligated to do it and when you do that it means that you actually are sacrificing a lot of your personal time and maybe quality time with family members to complete your work.

Sacrificing Personal Time to Complete Physician Workload

[19:32] And there’s no clock for you that says, well, you clock out at this time and you log in at this time.
And so as physicians, the work’s always there.
And I’ve created comics where I show people working till midnight, and they’re happy and they’re like, thank goodness, I’m finally done with my work.
And then at 12.01, the next morning, they get like a set of 50 other inbox messages, because it’s a new day. And it’s kind of this never-ending battle.
And you know, the cover of my book shows a physician rolling a rock up a hill like Sisyphus.

[20:07] Because you know, we’re struggling with so many things and when we don’t do it well, we feel like we’re not being perfect or we feel like we’re failing.
And that was what was going on with me. You know, I was trying to really juggle being a family doctor, still seeing patients while also being a leader, overseeing physicians who are coming to me with their problems and their challenges and having me try to figure out how to solve their problems while also trying to address it.
I could relate to what they were saying, but a lot of those challenges are beyond us, right?
You know, we still have to go through pre-authorization regulations and hassles, from, you know, insurance companies.
We still have these documentation requirements for insurance plans, you know. we still have these responsibilities of, you know, not feeling autonomous because others have expectations of us to perform well.
And so it really piled up on me and even more so because I wasn’t just dealing with my problems, I was dealing with other physicians problems.

[21:11] You know, at the time people joke that when you came to see me as a chief medical officer in my office, it was the crying room.
It was the crying room for doctors to come and literally cry and tell me that they couldn’t handle lot was going on.
And so it was heavy on my heart.
Yeah, so there’s a lot of dimensions to that burnout.
There’s one, just the being a physician, a clinician, and the patients and all those things that you articulated well.
And then on top of that is everybody else’s.

[21:41] So there’s really compounded. And so you said that this was helpful to you, writing and creating was helpful for that. Can you say more about that?
Sure, you know, one of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing is writing.
And I’ve written articles in different magazines and others, and a lot of my writing tends to be on how to improve the care setting, or how to support your staff, or how to get creative about probably challenging solutions in healthcare.
And for me, being able to write about these common scenarios that physicians were struggling with and clinical staff and administrative staff, it helped me put it on paper.
It’s almost like when people say, you know, when you feel really bad or someone’s harmed you, you know, write a letter to that person.
You know, you don’t have to give it to the person, but write a letter to that person to let them know. And it almost, it’s, you know, it’s therapeutic.
You know, it really helps release a lot of what you have inside.
You know, I think some of us, and I’m, I’m one that does this all the time.
We bottle things inside and we shoulder them.
And when you shoulder too much, it’s going to present itself in a different way. It might be lack of sleep, it might be high blood pressure, it may be stomach issues.
It could be, you know, body components that you may not be aware of because your mind and body are trying to tell you something’s wrong.
So would you say that, I know that part of your creation of these.

Writing and Creating as Therapeutic Release for Burnout

[23:10] The comic strip and your writing is of service to other people within healthcare and there’s also of service to yourself.
Would you say that you’re intentional about it regarding of service to the self because of how therapeutic it is?
Yeah, I’m very structured and so I try to release a comic every Sunday morning, you know, because I attribute my comics to Sunday fundings, you know, Sunday funnies which I grew up with.
I love comic strips growing up.
And so, it helps me be regimented in knowing other people are expecting your comic.
And you have to send them something that’s going to be of relief.
And it’s really heartwarming for me to get messages and emails or, you know, social media messages where people say, man, you hit it on the head today.
Or I really look forward to what you write. Or keep doing what you’re doing.
Because it just reinforces that I’m not alone and other people are experiencing this. I’ve had people say, man, were you in my office last week?
Because this literally just happened to us.

[24:16] Wow. Wow. So, something I’d like to ask my guest is, when they’ve gone through a shift or a pivot or some sort of point in their life that created something new for them and created something different, and they made that shift, and for you, this is in addition to a lot of other things I know that you’re involved with, this is a significant piece.
As you think about it right now, how has this impacted you, especially with respect to your own mental health?

Impact of Comics on Mental Health and Personal Growth

[24:46] I think it’s afforded me the ability to think more laterally and saying that being a physician is not all of who I am.
It’s a part of who I am and what I do. And through the comic, I’ve actually made connections with people I never thought I would get to meet, very well-known people in the healthcare industry as well as outside the industry.
And I’ve started to dabble in other things instead of just clinical care.

[25:13] I’m now working kind of with startup companies and serving as an advisor.
And then part of that is because they felt like I was creative.
I wasn’t thinking like a lot of physicians think. I’m looking more, you know, innovatively, you know, and I’ve started doing that.
I’ve done some consulting and more writing and just really trying to get myself out of my comfort zone for this is all I know what to do.
And I think that being able to make this comic and hearing the feedback has helped me kind of put my feet in the ground and saying, you know, you can do this and you’re actually worth it.
It’s a blessing to be a physician. I’m blessed to be a doctor, but I’m also a lot of other things too.
I’m hearing this, the therapeutic nature of doing something a little bit different, the therapeutic nature of being intentional about it and making sure that this happens, but also some of the lasting effects for you was to really broaden your perspective on, not only your own life, but other people’s lives as well.
Plus you’re getting this input about that you’re hitting the nail on the head week after week after week and touching a nerve that hopefully.

[26:23] And I know that’s an intention of yours also, is we need to move the needle on some of these things that are challenging for us.
So, really well done, well done. No, and that’s a great summary.
I think you couldn’t have said it better myself. So, I appreciate the way you encapsulated that.
Anything else you’d like to impart to listeners is specific to this concept of sort of self-healing.

[26:46] You know, you noticed I need to do, this is, I need to do something, I need to write something down.
Any thoughts or suggestions for people who may be considering something similar?
You know, I think for sure, you know, I was invited back to my residency graduation site to kind of be their speaker for the residency graduates in Fort Worth and it was super exciting for me because I got to go back to where things got started at John Peter Smith.

Advice for Physicians: Beyond Medicine and Money

[27:12] But I also got to impart words, you know, I thought to myself, what are things that I would want other people to tell me at this point in my career? And what I told them was number one, understand that being a physician is not all you are.
Number two, you need to do something out of your comfort zone, do anything out of your comfort zone.
I said, and number three, I said, you’re going to be making more money than most people do. Use your money wisely.
And I said, invest it in time. If there’s chores you don’t want to do, or there’s things that take a lot of your time, find somebody else to do it.
Invest it in experiences. If you and your family can get the chance to go to Paris or somewhere or go to Disneyland and have fun, do that.
And I said number three, invest it in others. If there’s organizations that you believe in, if there’s activities that other people are doing, if there’s kids you want to sponsor for something, do that.
I said because being able to understand you’re more than the physician, you can get out of your comfort zone, and they can use your money to invest it wisely, will really make a difference in your life.
And that’s what I’d share with the people listening today.

[28:20] Well, very, very wise. Wise words of wisdom.
I hope that the people taking you up on that, some of those graduates when you’re at that part of life when you’re graduating and you’re on the cusp of doing some new things, it’s really wise advice that I hope that they incorporate.
Yeah, I know. Thank you. I hope so too.
Well, Peter, thank you so much for returning to the MD Coaches family of podcast and having this conversation with me today.

A Farewell and Well Wishes for Success

[28:48] I really wish you all success in all the different endeavors that you have going on and I’m going to look forward to my Sunday subscription arriving in my my email box and look at the cartoon per week.
So thank you again so much. No, it sounds great. Thanks so much for allowing me to come back.

Peter Valenzuela: Combating Burnout in Healthcare

[29:09] I very much appreciated this conversation with Peter Valenzuela.
In In addition to modeling openness to exploring additional contributions that can be made in healthcare that are beyond clinical practice, we all benefit from his personal remedy to combat his own burnout.

[29:27] Writing, or more specifically, creating a whimsical comic in which the biting satire serves both as a salve for the weary professionals in healthcare, as well as a conduit for the necessary changes that are so needed to improve our systems of health.
The advice that he imparted to new residency graduates, lessons that he learned as a result of being reflective and intentional about his own professional life while emerging from burnout stand repeating here.
Number one, understand that being a physician, or any occupation for that matter, is not all that you are.
2. Regularly do something out of your comfort zone.
3. Use your money wisely so that you can use your time wisely.
4. Invest in experiences and in other people.
I think that you will find that Peter walks the walk as evidenced by the material in his comic strip.
I invite you to subscribe like I have.
It’s free, entertaining, and just might be what you need to hear today.
You can find it at

Need Help Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone? Consider Coaching.

[30:46] That’s.

Finally, if you find yourself burned out, stuck, or disillusioned and are having trouble stepping out of your comfort zone, consider coaching.
At MD Coaches, we specialize in coaching physicians because we are physicians and we’ve been there.
We’re here to help and you can find us at
As always, thank you for listening and be well.
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