Dr. Peter Valenzuela is a healthcare leader, speaker, bestselling author and cartoonist. Peter has served on governor-appointed work groups in Texas and Washington state targeting healthcare quality, outcomes, affordability and access. His creative leadership style has led to him twice being recognized by the Medical Group Management Association and American College of Medical Practice Executives (MGMA-ACMPE) with the Harwick Innovation Award and Physician Executive of the Year Award for exhibiting leadership deemed outstanding to achieve exceptional medical group performance.
The CE experience for this Podcast is powered by CMEfy – click here to reflect and earn credits: https://earnc.me/MxMkQN
Today’s Episode is brought to you by Doc2Doc Lending. Doc2Doc provides Match Day loans of up to $25,000 to fourth-year medical students and current residents. These loans are designed to help students cover personal expenses, such as moving costs, housing down payments, and living expenses before and during residency. With fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and no prepayment penalties, Doc2Doc Match Day loans provide financial flexibility and allow students to focus on their exciting journey towards becoming a physician.
Doc2Doc was founded for doctors, by doctors. They understand the challenges and hard work involved in becoming a doctor, and they support doctors throughout their careers. Using their in-house lending platform, Doc2Doc considers the unique financial considerations of doctors that are not typically considered by traditional financial institutions. So, Don’t let financial stress hold you back from achieving your goals – Doc2Doc lending has you covered. Visit https://rxforsuccesspodcast.com/doc2doc to Learn more.
MD Coaches, LLC provides leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians to overcome burnout, transition throughout your career, develop as a leader or meet your individual goals. Remember, you are not in this alone. Reach out to us today!
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. https://rxforsuccesspodcast.com/physicianoutlook
When not focused on his duties as the Chief Medical Officer of a large multi-specialty medical group in California, 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.
Dr. Valenzuela’s Prescription for Success:
Number 1: Do Something outside your comfort zone.
Number 2: Your job doesn’t define you.
Number 3: Find humor in everything you do.
Connect with Dr. Valenzuela:
The experiences we face in healthcare on a regular basis are comical.
I don’t see myself as a very good artist.
With comics you can be very satirical and share information in a way that’s more relatable.
I now know what EMR stands for. “Early Mandatory Retirement”
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Access the Show Transcript Here
[0:00] And I raised my hand up and I said, so you know, you got 90% provider set survey satisfaction completion, right?
Satisfaction survey completion. I said, what did you do with the results of the survey? You know, your findings. And I’m not kidding you, Randy. He said, well, our executive dashboard bonus is based on participation rates, not on how happy the physicians are.
Welcome to the Prescription for Success podcast with your host, Dr. Randy Cook.
[0:59] Hello everyone and welcome to Prescription for Success. I’m Dr. Randy Cook, your host for the podcast, which is a production of MD Coaches, providing leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians. To overcome burnout, transition your career, develop as a leader, or whatever your goal might be, visit MDCoaches on the web at MyMDCoaches.com because you’re not in this alone.
And don’t forget that CME credit is available when you listen with us.
Look for CMFI in the show notes to learn how!
[1:38] Well, my guest today is a nationally recognized physician leader, best-selling author, cartoonist, and educator.
He has been profiled in journals ranging from Healthcare Design Magazine to Medical Economics and Medscape, as well as being featured on Docs Outside the Box, KevinMD, and the ZDoggMD Show.
[2:02] We’re delighted that he could join us today. So here’s my conversation with Dr. Peter Valenzuela.
And what a pleasure it is today for me to be speaking with Dr. Peter Valenzuela, who is a family practitioner out in Sacramento, California.
Peter, thanks so much for being with us today.
[2:24] Peter Valenzuela Hey, happy to be here. Thanks for having me, Randy.
Dr. Reagan I’m really looking forward to this conversation. I meet a lot of physicians with really unique things that they do that are sort of peripherally related to the practice of medicine and you’re the first cartoonist that we’ve run into.
So… Yeah, yeah. Okay. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but happy to hear that.
Oh, it’s really good.
Really, really good and I’m really looking forward to the conversation.
But we’ll begin as we always do with your beginnings.
Like to know where you got started. And I know, well, at least I presume that you grew up in Texas and that’s where you got your education.
And when you matriculated at University of Texas in 1990, had you decided at that point that medicine was where you were headed or did that come along some other time.
Yeah, you know, by that point I had, it was interesting because up, you know, growing up I loved to draw everything, especially buildings. You know, I always thought I was gonna be an architect.
Really? And yeah, I spent a lot of time just, you know, drawing different types of odd shaped structures.
[3:36] And when I was 15, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and it kind of was what led to my pivot.
You know, I watched her over the course of two years, she battled cancer and unfortunately, summer before my senior year in high school, she passed away.
But she made me promise her, yeah, no thank you. It was tough, but it really was life altering.
One of the promises she made me make was that I would become a physician.
So I owe that to her.
Well, you can’t go back on a promise like that. Exactly.
Yeah, you definitely can’t. She’s funny. She made me promise that I’d become a physician and that I wouldn’t get married until I graduated medical school.
So those were her requests of me. And you got both of those, did you?
I did, I did. By the time I started at UT in 1990, I was kind of on the path to become a physician.
So, after I graduated from UT, I went to medical school at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
And I actually studied, I knew I was going to be a family physician because I was on one of those, I grew up in a small town in West Texas, it’s called Fort Stockton.
It’s about 7,500 people.
And they actually had programs in the state of Texas because there’s such a shortage of rural physicians where if you agreed to go back to your community, they would fund your medical school.
[4:59] So I actually wrote a state-funded loan program where the state funded half of my medical school and my community funded the other half.
In return, I was obligated to provide four years of service in my hometown, which I gladly did.
Yeah, that’s a pretty good swap.
Yeah, it was. It’s nice to graduate without loans because you know I think that’s tends to be one of the biggest things people struggle with when you, To your point matriculate through college and medical school and residency. I mean there’s physicians that have, $200,000 plus loans before they get started and I’m gonna bet.
[5:36] I’ll see how you react to this. I’m gonna bet that you learned as much During those years in Fort Stockton as you did in your previous medical school and residency.
You know, I really did. And it’s funny that you said that, because about two years into it, I realized that I didn’t learn much about the business side of being a physician, right?
You know, running your practice and throughput and flow and making sure that the patients were happy with what you were doing.
And so it actually inspired me to go back to school. And I did an executive MBA program through Auburn University. I noticed that. While I was still practicing.
Yeah, it was while I was still practicing, fly out to Auburn about every three months and spend a week there and then I did stuff online.
And well, I was curious as to if it was if it was all online or if you got to spend any time in Auburn at all. I happened to be. Yeah, it was great. It was a hybrid program, which made it really interesting because I, you know, I got to meet, you know, 20 plus other physicians from across the state and different specialties. And.
[6:33] We would spend, you know, one of the trips we took was to Washington to learn about the regulatory aspects and you know political aspects of health care. Another trip we took was to Europe.
We actually went to London and studied comparative health care systems on how our health care system in the U.S. compares to other you know well-developed countries. You might be interested to know that as we speak, I am approximately 35 miles by the county roads from Auburn, Alabama.
Are you really? Oh wow, small world. I am indeed. You know Opelika and all that area. I know, yeah, I know Opelika and all the surrounding areas. War Eagle. I’ll say War Eagle to you.
All right, I’m going to War Eagle you back even though I’m not necessarily an Auburn fan.
[7:23] But I get the sentiment and I’m glad that you enjoyed your time there. I’m wondering, Did you find southeast Alabama similar in any way to southwest Texas?
Dr. Mills Yeah, I think there was a lot of similarities, especially from the rural standpoint. The people, you know, the southern hospitality was still there.
I really appreciated being able to be exposed to that area because I would actually would fly into Atlanta and drive down to Auburn. So it was a little bit of a commute to get there.
Dr. Marshall Yeah, that is a bit of a commute. Kind of neat to have that connection with you.
Yeah, small world. I want to find out a little bit more about that experience in Fort Stockton.
As you say, it’s in a bit of a remote area.
I mean, it’s almost in Mexico. Did you feel that you were prepared to practice in that area, having learned what you learned?
[8:24] No, that’s a great question. Honestly, I felt really well prepared.
I did my residency program at John Peter Smith JPS in Fort Worth, which was a pretty well-known programs for especially for physicians that were going to be doing practicing real medicine. So, the scope of work that I did in Fort Stockton was very similar to what I trained in. I mean, I literally was doing EGDs, colonoscopies, tubals, tonsils, appies, delivering babies, working in emergency. You were a real family dog. Yeah, home visits, you know, nursing home visits and it was the full gamut. It literally was the full scope of of family medicine.
So it sounds like you had a really good experience in Fort Stockton, and I’m sure you’re glad you were there, but at the end of your five-year period, you decided that it was time to make a change and actually made a decision to spend some time in academia. Is that correct?
[9:21] Yeah, that’s correct. So I practiced rural medicine for five years, and I had already fulfilled my obligation a year prior, but I stayed an extra year just because I was enjoying what I was doing.
But then Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center was looking for a physician with a business background. They were really hoping for doctors with MBAs, which there weren’t as many back then.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani I bet. Dr. Jim Kross To come in and oversee the clinical operations of their care facilities.
So it was about 11 clinics, 40 faculty, and 60 plus residents that really needed someone to help oversee the operational aspects of the work.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani How’d you like life in academia? You know, it was different. I enjoyed it, you know.
It really is, isn’t it?
It was different. And I’m not saying different bad. I just mean it was kind of a 180 from being a full-time rural physician.
But I really got into it. I started. I loved the teaching part.
And about a year or two, about a year and a half into it, I actually became the chair of the Family Medicine residency program as well.
So I was assistant dean for clinical affairs and I was the chair of family medicine.
[10:31] And it was really rewarding to watch physicians kind of mature and go through the process of feeling like they don’t know much and not feeling confident to, you know, they’re in that third year feeling like they’ve seen enough where they can, you know, get out in real world and start seeing patients.
I bet that is a really gratifying experience and I’m sure you treasure those years.
[10:52] Yeah, I really do and I still have connections with a lot of those residents.
But nonetheless, you reached a point where you felt like it was time to move on again.
[11:02] And if I were going to predict where a guy from West Texas would go, I’m not sure it would be Northern California. So tell us about how you made that decision.
Yeah, well, you know, I made it to Northern California by way of Washington State first.
So, my wife and I were living in West Texas and we went with some friends of ours to Seattle, Washington. And we took an inside passage cruise. So, it was from Seattle to Ketchikan, Alaska.
I mean, looked at glaciers and fjords. It was just beautiful. And my wife and I, you know, we’ve been married 23 years now and we don’t have any children. And back then.
[11:41] And then, you know, we fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.
And I told her, hey, you know, if an opportunity came by in this area, would you want to consider moving out here? And she said, sure.
And sure enough, you know, Peace Health Medical Group was looking for a medical director to oversee their group of physicians, which was about 120 plus physicians.
So my wife and I, you know, we jumped into it. We moved to Bellingham, Washington, which is about 80 miles north of Seattle, about 15 miles south of the Canadian border, right on the bay.
And we lived there for about four years. And to your point, one of the things we used to do, we would fly out from Seattle to California to escape the rains, you know, because it gets a little gray out in Washington.
When you’re a Texas person, living in Washington full-time is quite an adjustment.
So we used to fly out to- I bet it is.
Yeah, it definitely was. So we used to fly out to Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, and just kind of go wine tasting. That was kind of our favorite thing to do.
[12:42] Today’s episode is brought to you by Doc-to-Doc Lending. Doc-to-Doc provides match day loans of up to $25,000 to fourth year medical students and current residents. These loans are designed to help students cover personal expenses such as moving costs, housing down payments, and living expenses before and during residency. With fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms and no prepayment penalties, Doc-to-Doc Match Day loans provide financial flexibility and allow students to focus on their exciting journey towards becoming a physician.
Doc-to-Doc was founded for doctors by doctors. They understand the challenges and hard work involved in becoming a doctor and they support doctors throughout their careers.
Using their in-house lending platform, Doc-to-Doc considers the unique financial considerations of doctors that are not typically considered by traditional financial institutions.
So don’t let financial stress hold you back from achieving your goals.
Doc-to-Doc Lending has you covered. Visit www.doc-to-doc-lending.com slash MDCoaches to learn more.
[14:03] Hi, I’m Rhonda Crowe, founder and CEO for MDCoaches. 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.
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 mymdcoaches.com to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Again, that’s MyMDCoaches.com because you’re not in this alone.
[15:05] 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.
[16:15] Tell me some more about that experience and that first practice experience in some place other than Texas. Was there any culture shock? What was the experience like?
Yeah, I mean, I think it was, you know, going from an academic practice where people have a larger focus on the education and, you know, research and publishing and, you know, the clinical aspects to a medical group in a large healthcare system like PeaceHealth.
It was different, you know, the physicians were all employed.
So it was an employed model, but they were fully clinical.
And so it was dealing with different specialties and others that are different personalities that you may not have faced in the past.
The good news is that the group that I joined had a really strong culture and they realized that they were part of a medical group.
There are other medical groups that are, you know, they’re developed by acquisitions and most of those physicians want to continue to practice completely independently and that.
[17:14] Makes it a tougher adjustment.
Dr. Darrell Bock Right. And you were actually in a leadership position from the start.
You were their medical director, is that right?
Dr. Michael McBride Yeah, I was the medical director there and then I got promoted up to vice president of the Northwest Network, which meant that I I oversaw the medical group in Bellingham, but my responsibility expanded to Ketchikan, Alaska, the San Juan Islands.
Yeah, and Skagit Valley, south of Bellingham, north of Seattle. It was great.
I actually had to take puddle jumpers to fly to the San Juan Islands, and then I also flew to Ketchikan intermittently. It was beautiful when it wasn’t raining or foggy.
I got to have some great experiences out there.
Yeah, but you did so it sounds like it was a great place for you to be but yet the time did come when you Felt like it was time for another move. So you want to tell us about it?
Yeah, you know and it wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t enjoy the job or the people I really liked both.
[18:13] But I was really struggling with seasonal affective disorder, you know my uh-huh My coming from Texas and moving to Washington where you know You get kind of gray and rain for about eight months plus out of the year It really kind of wore me down.
And so, my wife and I used to, you know, we were flying to Santa Rosa to escape the gray.
And we just fell in love with the wine country.
You know, in fact, I’m not sure if you know this, but my wife actually is now a winemaker.
I think I had heard that.
She, yeah, she, you know, I gave her the same conversation. I said, hey, you know, if an opportunity opened up in Northern California, would you consider it?
Again, we had our dogs, but no children, and we thought, she said, yeah, let’s do it.
And so we did. I had Sutter Health, headhunter for Sutter Health reach out to me about a chief medical officer position in Santa Rosa, which was where we were flying into for a medical group of about 125 physicians.
And we took the job, and I practiced there for about almost eight years.
During that time, my wife enrolled in enology viticulture courses through the college there and she ended up getting her certificate.
During that time she ended up working with two really well-known winemakers in Sonoma County for about four years and then she decided she wanted to launch her own label.
[19:35] Outstanding. I know this conversation is supposed to be about you and it’s gonna be, but I’m, kind of fascinated with this.
She’s a lot more interesting than I am. Did you, well I doubt that, but maybe equally so. So did you guys decide to invest in a vineyard and all that kind of stuff? Tell me what happened with the wine business.
So my wife was working with a winery, it’s called Furthermore Wines, and she worked there for about four years.
And I had been, by this time, I was seven years into my current job, and I was really enjoying it, loved the medical group, but I was kind of ready to take on a bigger responsibility.
And the position where I’m currently at now in Sacramento, chief medical officer of a group of over 520 plus physicians was a much bigger position, and it was going to be, from a compensation standpoint, more financially rewarding.
Our plan was going to be to use those funds to help my wife launch her label, which we did.
So about a year after moving to Sacramento, my wife launched her label.
She makes rosé wine and sparkling wine. It’s called Woo Girl, W-O-O, Girl.
She’s been at it for about two years now, and we are literally buying a small estate outside of Sacramento in the Lodi area that includes a vineyards, a tasting room, a wine warehouse, a house for us to live in, and a cottage.
And it’s right along the river.
[21:03] Outstanding. It’s been kind of one of our dreams together, especially for my wife.
And we’re closing on this property in two weeks.
So the timing on this podcast is perfect. Thank you. Thank you, Randy. I appreciate it.
Well, let’s talk a little bit about this evolution into a very well-known and highly sought after cartoonist and author.
This is a brilliant piece of work that you have. I unfortunately have not been able to get the entire book in my hands, but it is on the way. I’m sure Amazon will have it on my doorstep tomorrow.
But I have been able to sample it online.
And my goodness, what a brilliant commentary on the sociology and the ethos around healthcare professionals. I mean, you have really nailed it.
[21:56] But talk to us about where the idea came from and how has it affected your life?
Sure, no, no. So I will tell you that I was actually at a conference and I was sitting in listening to an administrator talk about how his organization had increased their physician survey participation rates on physician satisfaction and provider satisfaction.
And he kind of walked through these three different interventions they took where they would, you know, offer, you know, small prizes, they would offer, you know, food and lunches for the staff and, you know, and then ultimately at the end, they offered kind of incentives for physicians from a compensation standpoint to complete their provider satisfaction surveys.
[22:44] You know, and at the end of this presentation, he said, you know, we went from 36%, physician provider satisfaction survey completion to, you know, 90% provider satisfaction survey completion, you know, and everybody’s really impressed.
And I raised my hand up and I said, so, you know, you got 90% provider survey satisfaction completion, right, satisfaction survey completion.
I said, what did you do with the results of the survey, you know, your findings?
And I’m not kidding you, Randy, he said, well, our executive dashboard bonus is based on participation rates, not on how happy the physicians are.
Well, there’s a really admirable goal. I literally just fell out of my chair and I leaned over at another doctor and I said, you can’t make this stuff up.
[23:29] And he goes, you know. And that’s when I – But they did. Yeah.
And that’s literally when I had the idea. I think I mentioned I always wanted to be an architect growing up and I love to draw.
And I thought, you know, these are comical. I mean, the experiences we face in healthcare on a regular basis are comical.
And so, I decided to make a satirical comic about healthcare as seen through the eyes of those providing the care.
[23:57] Physicians, clinical staff, and even some of the frontline administrators.
And so, that’s kind of how DocRelated came to mind. The more I thought about it, the more each character came to my head, right?
So, I have a kind of different characters from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different generations all working together. And each of them has their own persona.
And so, you know, each week I release a comic that’ll talk about something that’s happening or a very common frustration people are feeling.
And I, you know, when I release the comics, I also will add some data or information related to that topic and, you know, kind of ask for feedback.
And I’m really surprised it just really took off, you know. I’ve had, you know, millions of views of my comics, you know, on the internet over the last five years.
I can understand how you might be a little surprised. I’m not surprised at all, having seen the quality of your drawings and the way that you handled the subject matter because this is one of those things where you look at that and you say, yeah, that’s my life.
This is exactly what I’m going through.
Somebody understands. I got to think that the feedback that you’re getting has got to be gratifying to say the least. Yeah, it definitely has been. It’s funny you mentioned the quality and caliber of the comics.
The reason I did comics is because I…
[25:24] I don’t see myself as a very good artist. In fact, I’ll share this story with my.
[25:30] Now wife when my wife and I were dating in medical school. We’re getting close enough where I thought, you know, I’m going to show some vulnerability. I’m going to kind of share something that’s really, personal to me and I pulled out my sketch pad that I used to have from high school that included all the buildings and structures that I would draw. And I said, you know, I always wanted to be an architect”, I said and I, you know, I think I had a good chance. I said, you know, I’d love you to get your feedback on like sketches, you know, and my wife kind of opened the sketchbook and went through it and after a few minutes she looked up at me and she looks up at me and she says, you know, I think it was a great idea for you to go into medicine.
[26:12] So, I guess my career as an architect was not going to be what I thought it would be. And And you know, she’s always been honest with me like that. And I really respected that.
I think that’s what’s kept us so happy together for almost 24 years.
But that’s why I decided on the comic medium, because it was a little bit easier from an artistic standpoint.
And comics, with comics, you can be very satirical and share information in a way that’s more relatable.
It’s a quick read, and it tells people a lot, just in three panels. It’s so true.
I mean, you can knock down the doors to the CEO’s office and go in and rant, and you’re nothing but a troublemaker. You’re a bad guy. You’re not a team player.
But if you can put that stuff out there in a way that gives everybody a laugh, there’s very little left to object to, wouldn’t you say?
[27:07] Yeah, I think that’s really well put, Randy. Well, tell me some more about that.
Obviously, you’re surrounded by a lot of administrative types.
Can you talk about the feedback that you get, not only face-to-face, but are you getting fan mail? What is that like?
Yeah, so I can tell you that my comics, I think, have been really well received for the most part, but I have received some emails from people that are maybe higher level executives in healthcare who say that they feel that my comics are somewhat offensive and puts a negative lens on certain people or administrators, which is not my intent at all.
So I can tell you that I do get lots of great positive feedback, but I do also get the occasional this comic doesn’t portray us correctly, and I think you should be careful with your wording.
[28:05] And I think that’s to be expected. You’re not always gonna make everybody happy, but I think that everything I’ve listed and all the comics I’ve made have been based on events or experiences that people are going through.
Can you think of any instances where some reaction to one of the comics or one of the characters or whatever has actually led to what you would consider to be useful conversation about a difficult subject.
Yeah, I actually, I think that one of the most exciting points for me was when I received an email from one of the people that’s practicing out in Australia.
I’ve received emails from people in Australia, New Zealand, England, that have said, hey, listen, the electronic health record thing is a big issue for us, and this last comic that you had.
We’d love to use it as an introduction to conversations we’re having with some of our government officials related to some of the challenges we’re feeling.
[29:06] Wow. Yeah. Yeah. So, that was super exciting. And then, of course, I told them you can do that.
And so, I think that it’s been great for me to see that they’re making not just a local impact, but that others or people are using it as not necessarily leverage, but additional resources to share with others to simplify complicated challenges within healthcare.
That has got to be really gratifying and congratulations to you for being able to experience that.
Congratulations to your wife who made you understand that you were a cartoonist and not an architect.
I suspect that you’re probably having or will have over the decades to follow.
I expect that you’re going to have much more of an impact than you suspect.
Have you ever considered that at all?
What might be happening because of what you’re doing?
[30:00] 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.
But when I saw the impact it was having on other people, it just kind of inspired me to keep drawing and keep making comics.
And talking about those things that might be taboo for others.
And I’m going to ask the obverse of that question. Now that you have become famous, if you will, are you having days when you feel like you’re pressured to come up with something?
Or is the subject matter so vast that it’s easy?
Yeah, well, definitely the subject matter is vast. I can tell you that sometimes I do get busy and, on occasion I will, you know, kind of recycle a comic that I’ve done in the past and re-release that. I have over 100 plus comics at this point, so there’s not a shortage of them.
[31:10] What’s a little bit frustrating to me is that some of the comics that I made, you know, four and five years ago are still applicable because we haven’t made- Isn’t that amazing?
Yeah, we have not made dramatic strides in healthcare as it relates to improving the physician and clinician environment and innovating in areas that we think that shouldn’t be issues in the future. It’s just been a slow move.
Well, I’m going to give you something to work with. I’ll tell you that way back in the days at about the time the earth cooled and electronic medical record was sort of a dream.
I was the guy that encouraged my hospital to let’s get this thing done. Let’s get on an EMR.
We went around and looked at a number of different vendors. The particular one that we looked at was the physician order entry system was really written by or designed by an academic nephrologist and it was just brilliant.
I was able to sit down and open this thing, know where I was, order things.
I mean, it was just absolutely effortless.
So to shorten the story, I persuaded my hospital to buy from the company that was selling this thing, but the time they got it delivered, they had trashed that order entry system and they had turned it into something else that nobody could understand.
[32:39] And the interesting thing was that I think the reason that happened was because through the efforts of Barack Obama and his healthcare initiative early in his administration, you know, they put this mandate down that everybody has, if you’re going to get Medicare payment, you got to be on an EMR. I can’t remember, it was either three years or four years or something like that, but it was a short period of time. And what that meant was that the makers, the vendors of electronic medical records, all they had to do was come up with something and we had to buy it. And the stuff that they came out with was just and hard to understand, and it continues to demoralize people today.
So yeah, I’m offering that to you as fodder for a cartoon about how you can.
[33:29] Mess up something that should have been really helpful to physicians and that’s the EMR, Yeah, you know, it’s funny you said that I’ve actually made two two comics where I kind of talk about EMR and one of them Is you know, dr. Katz is one of my characters. He’s one of the, Older physicians who was acquired and you know, he mentions in one of his comics He says, you know, I now know what EMR stands for.
And the other doctor asked him, well, what does it stand for?
He says, early mandatory retirement.
Oh, how true. Because I do not want to keep dealing with this thing. How true.
And that is kind of what it’s doing to people. I mean, a lot of, you know, we saw an exodus of over 100,000.
[34:11] Physicians during COVID, you know, and, you know, that’s, that’s, you know, a good 20% of our participating physicians.
And when we only have a million, it’s pretty scary to lose 100,000 of them.
Darrell Bock I’m going to have to admit, it was – there were many factors, but the EMR was a contributory factor to my retirement.
And there’s absolutely no doubt about that.
Scottie Beamon Yeah. I’ve got another comic where I refer to the EMR as a GCR.
And that’s taken it from a buddy of mine, Dr. Zubin Damania, Z-Dog, where he said GCR is a glorified cash register.
That’s the boom box. That’s it. You hit the nail on the head.
That’s terrific. Yeah, so I guess that also lets you know the types of comics that I make and what they talk about.
Right. Well, I think that’s a pretty good point to bring this to a close.
I’ve really enjoyed my conversation with you, Peter, and could go on and on.
But what I want to do at this point is get out of your way and give you an opportunity to do what we brought you here for, so audience, Dr. Peter Valenzuela is going to give us his personal prescriptions for success.
[35:23] All right then, so I would say for me, from a personal prescription for success, the best advice that I ever received was to do something out of your comfort zone.
And doing something out of my comfort zone has led me to going from rural practice to academics to leadership within large organizations.
It’s led me to move from Texas to Washington to now California.
[35:50] And it’s led me to go back to school MBA and get my MBA and it’s also led me to draw cartoons about things that I’m frustrated about. And so doing something out of my comfort zone has been a great prescription for me.
You know I think if I was going to talk to myself 10 years ago, you know the three things that advice that I’d give myself is number one, know that your job doesn’t define you.
[36:15] And I think if as physicians we all you know live and breathe being physicians and we lose side of doing things outside of the job.
I think that the biggest thing that you can do with the money you make as a physician is buy yourself some time, buy yourself some experiences, and invest in other people.
When I say that, I mean if there’s work that you don’t enjoy doing, hire somebody to do that. If you want to go on a trip, take your family members and do something that you’re going to remember together.
I think that if you are a person that’s compassionate and empathic, you can volunteer and work at places.
Or you can help sponsor organizations that you believe in or students that are really just trying to get up in the world. And that’s that investing in others.
And I think that the other thing that you should find, at least one of the things, points of advice I tell myself is find humor in everything you do. Humor has so many health benefits.
[37:07] You know, you could decrease cortisol levels. It increases your dopamine so you’re happier.
It reduces endorphins so you feel more euphoric. I mean, it just helps you in so many ways.
And I think that one of the last pieces of advice I’d give myself 10 years ago is I’d say buy shares of Tesla because that puppy’s gone up 6,000%.
So Randy, I’ll finish with that. That’s pretty good advice. Leave your comfort zone.
Your job does not define who you are and find humor wherever you are.
A lot of wisdom in that, Peter, and I really appreciate you being here to talk with us and share with us. I am really getting a kick out of your comics. I look forward to getting my hands on the book. Before we go, I want to give you an opportunity to tell our audience where they can find you, where they can find the book, and anything else that you’d like to share, email addresses, whatever.
[38:06] Dr. Peter Valenzuela Sure. Thanks, Randy. So I would say if you want to reach out to me, I have my own website. It’s drpetervalenzuela.com. D-R-P-E-T-E-R-V-A-L-E-N-Z-U-A-L-E-A-D-O-T-C-O-M.
I have my comics all on the Doc Related website, that’s doc-related.com.
My book is called Doc Related, a Physician’s Guide to Fixing Our Alien Healthcare System.
You can find it at Barnes and Noble, you can also find it on Amazon.
It’s actually been an Amazon bestseller in several categories when it was first released, so I’d encourage you to take a look at it.
[38:38] And Randy, thank you so much for having me on the show, this has been a real pleasure.
Well, once again, Peter, we have really enjoyed having you here.
Dr. Peter Valenzuela, thanks so much for being on Prescriptions for Success.
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