Episode 82: Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 3: Surviving the Process with Drs Jessica Harland, Caroline Walker, and Heidi Mounsey

It’s normal to make a mistake at work. However, the burden and impact on healthcare professionals is more significant than most people realise. Receiving a complaint may cast doubts on your professionalism and dampen your self-esteem. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the different emotions which you may experience when dealing with complaints. It’s also equally important to know what to do to look after yourself when going through the process, and how to get the support you need.

Drs Jessica Harland, Caroline Walker and Heidi Mousney join us in this episode to discuss healthcare professionals’ experiences when dealing with complaints. We talk about the different emotions you may experience and practical tips on getting through.

If you want to know how to survive the process after making a mistake at work and receiving a complaint, stay tuned to this episode.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Find out the common emotions and responses you will experience when you make a mistake at work.

  2. Learn how to limit the amount of time you spend thinking about making a mistake.
  3. Discover simple strategies on how to manage yourself when going through a complaint.

Episode Highlights

[07:38] Doctors’ Experiences in Dealing with Complaints

  • Receiving a complaint is a normal part of being a doctor.
  • However, receiving a complaint can feel incredibly isolating. It’s important to remember that everyone receives one at some point.
  • When they make a mistake at work and receive a complaint, doctors feel ashamed, frustrated, and distressed.
  • Heidi helps doctors going through a complaint by reducing the stress and amount of time it takes to resolve the complaint.

[11:12] Why Don’t We Talk About Complaints with Our Colleagues?

  • It depends on the nature of the complaint, especially if it’s about your professionalism.
  • So much of a health professional’s self-esteem is based on their career. Therefore receiving personal criticisms can be very painful.
  • People don’t want to share criticisms that bring doubt into their professionalism. They don’t want people to know when they make a mistake at work.
  • We think we are in control of a situation, but it can be difficult to adjust when someone else takes control.

[13:47] How People Feel When They Receive Complaints or Make a Mistake

  • Doctors often feel guilt and shame.
  • There is also a lot of anger and frustration about how the complaint came about.
  • Most doctors feel anxious about getting more complaints. Sometimes, there is also grief or a sense of losing the relationship they have with medicine.
  • Defensiveness or blaming the complainant is also a very common emotion. Defensiveness might actually be masking anxiety.
  • It is crucial to be able to accept and understand the perspective of the complainant.

[16:42] How to Cope with Guilt and Shame When You Make a Mistake at Work

  • It is normal to make a mistake at work.
  • Over time, you have to adjust the expectations you place on yourself.
  • Openly sharing and talking about complaints can help you cope with them.
  • Making mistakes at work is a learning experience.
  • Organisations should also be more proactive in hearing complaints and talking about them.

[19:17] Miscommunication and Complaints

  • A lot of complaints arise as a result of miscommunication.
  • Giving the doctor a choice on how to respond to the complaint can be empowering.

[21:39] Differences in Handling Complaints

  • The response depends on how a complaint is written.
  • It’s easier to handle an objectively written complaint about systems and processes.
  • If the complaint is more personal, the response can be more extreme.
  • A doctor can feel very angry and defensive on one extreme and very guilty and ashamed on the other.

[27:09] The Importance of Perspective When You Make a Mistake at Work

  • It helps to depersonalise the complaint.
  • Remember that it’s not only a complaint on you but more on what happened.
  • It is important to remember that there is a power differential in a doctor-patient relationship.
  • Being aware of this power differential can help you feel more sympathetic to the complainant.

[31:14] Offering an Apology

  • Apologising when you make a mistake at work is an important part of the healing process.
  • Offering an unwarranted apology can be difficult, but it will become more genuine as you process your emotions and what has happened.
  • Gain control by breaking down the complaint and address different points specifically.

[33:30] How to Look After Yourself When Dealing with a Complaint

  • Take a break to help you cope.
  • Keep an eye on the basics like eating, brushing your teeth, and going to bed at a regular time.
  • Reach out to somebody you can trust.
  • It will eventually pass, and you will recover even if you feel you might not at that time.

[37:12] Can We Stop Fixating on Our Mistakes?

  • We may not stop feeling bad, but being kinder to ourselves helps.
  • We are going to get those intrusive thoughts, and we should be conscious about them.
  • Look after yourself to reduce the intensity of those bad thoughts and feelings.
  • Recognise that receiving a complaint is a normal part of being a doctor.
  • A complaint does not have to take over your life.

[42:47] Practical Advice to People Going Through a Complaint

  • Work on prevention. Avoid HALT, or situations that make you feel hungry, angry, late, and tired, so you can avoid making a mistake at work.
  • Do not carry the burden of the complaint on your own.
  • Don’t send out your first response to a complaint. Have it checked by someone you trust first, then write a new response.
  • Get rid of that first response.
  • Put a boundary around the time that you’re looking at the complaint.

[48:22] Top Three Tips for Surviving and Looking After Yourself While Going Through a Complaint

  • Caroline’s tips are to feel your feelings, look at the basics of self-care, and don’t do it on your own.
  • Heidi’s advice is to contact your indemnity organisation, offer an apology, and vent out your feelings.
  • Jess wants you to remind yourself that complaints are part of your professional role, try to look at complaints from the complainant’s perspective, and give yourself a break.

7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

[07:41, Caroline] ‘Complaints are just a very, very normal, common part of being a doctor, you know, in our medical lives, but they can feel incredibly isolating.’

[15:57, Caroline] ‘We want to put the blame elsewhere, but actually part of the process, particularly if you have been responsible for something going wrong, is coming to an acceptance around that, and seeing other people’s perspectives.’

[17:08, Caroline] ‘When you start to talk to other people who’ve made mistakes, that really normalises. It takes a bit of the shame out of it. You can start to treat yourself like every other human being that you treat really kindly and compassionately.’

[27:35, Caroline] ‘If you can take that thing that has happened slightly off and away from you and look at it with a bit more perspective… it’s actually about something we can both look at and learn from together.’

[34:14, Jessica] ‘If you feel you need a break, take a break. I think as doctors we were absolutely allergic to the idea of not coping and having to just push on through.’

[35:54, Jessica] ‘It does eventually hurt a bit less, you know, it will be preoccupying and painful for a while. But eventually, you will just move on and it will pass.’

[38:25, Caroline] ‘I think you’re not going to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings and getting difficult thoughts, but it’s about when they happen, being really conscious with them. And looking after yourself in a way that reduces the intensity of them.’

About the Guests

Dr Jessica Harland is a GP partner and trainer and a PCN clinical director. Her professional interests include women’s health and contraception, children, older adults, and mental health. Check out her website to know more about her work. To get in touch with Jess, you can follow her on Twitter.

Dr Caroline Walker is a psychiatrist, therapist, speaker, trainer, and coach. She founded The Joyful Doctor to support doctors who need help with their careers or mental health. You can reach Caroline on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Dr Heidi Mounsey is a medicolegal consultant for Medical Protection. She supports doctors who are going through the complaint process. To know more about Heidi’s work, check out Medical Protection’s website.

Enjoy This Podcast?

In today’s high-stress work environment, you may feel like a frog in boiling water. The pan has heated up so slowly that you didn’t notice the feeling of stress and overwhelm becoming the norm. You may feel that it is impossible to survive AND thrive in your work.

Frogs generally have only two options — stay and be boiled alive or jump out of the pan. Fortunately, you are not a frog. You have many more options, choices and control than you think.

Learn to master your destiny so that you can thrive even in the most difficult of situations. If you enjoyed today’s episode of You Are Not a Frog Podcast, then hit subscribe now!

Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning into this podcast, do not hesitate to write a review and share this with your friends. Help us help them realise that a complaint isn’t the end — it’s normal, and everyone gets them.

Episode Transcript

Dr Rachel Morris: Do you live in fear of a complaint? Do you dread making mistakes or getting something wrong? No one goes to work expecting to fail and no one ever likes to be wrong or receive a complaint, but making mistakes is normal. After all, no one has a 100% success rate, and receiving complaints from patients and clients could be seen to be an occupational hazard. We know this. So why do we find it so hard to cope when it happens? And it will. That’s why we’ve put together a series of You Are Not A Frog podcasts on complaints and how to survive them.

Going through a complaint or investigation is one of the most stressful things that can happen in your career. And I’ve seen firsthand the anxiety and emotional turmoil it can cause. and I know what it’s like to berate myself when I inevitably fail. But it’s because we care that we find these aspects of our professional practice so difficult. But what if there’s a better way of handling things? What if we could learn to view the whole complaints process as just another part of our professional practice, and learn the skills we need to manage ourselves, our colleagues and our patients in an empathetic and compassionate way throughout?

In this episode, I’m talking to Dr Jess Harland, a GP partner and trainer and a PCN Clinical Director, Dr Caroline Walker, aka The Joyful Doctor, who’s a psychiatrist, and Dr Heidi Mounsey, a medicolegal consultant for medical protection, about how to survive when you make a mistake or deal with a complaint. We discussed the many emotions such as anger and shame that we may feel and the types of response which can make us feel much worse. Whilst it’s never going to be easy, there are some things you can do to get more control and feel better. So listen if you want to find out the common emotions you will experience, and why we find it so difficult, how to limit the amount of time you spend ruminating on what’s going on, and some simple strategies for managing yourself so you don’t feel so battered and bruised by the process of going through a complaint.

Welcome to You are Not A Frog, life hacks for doctors and other busy professionals who want to beat burnout and work happier. I’m Dr Rachel Morris. I’m a GP turned coach, speaker and specialist in teaching resilience. And I’m interested in how we can wake up and be excited about going to work no matter what.

I’ve had 20 years of experience working in the NHS and I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, worried about making a mistake, and one crisis away from not coping. Even before the coronavirus crisis, we were facing unprecedented levels of burnout. We have been described as frogs in a pan of slowly boiling water, working harder and longer. And the heat has been turned up so slowly that we hardly noticed the extra-long days becoming the norm, and have got used to the low-grade feelings of stress and exhaustion. Let’s face it, frogs generally only have two options: stay in the pan and be boiled alive, or jump out of the pan and leave. But you are not a frog. And that’s where this podcast comes in. You have many more options than you think you do. It is possible to be master of your destiny and to craft your work and life so that you can thrive even in the most difficult of circumstances. And if you’re happier at work, you will simply do a better job. In this podcast, I’ll be inviting you inside the minds of friends, colleagues, and experts, all who have an interesting take on this. So that together, we can take back control and thrive, not just survive in our work and our lives and love what we do again.

Did you know that for every episode of You are Not a Frog, we produce a CPD worksheet, which you can use to reflect on what you’ve learned and claim additional CPD hours. And if you’re a doctor and you want even more resources about how to thrive at work, then do join our Permission to Thrive CPD membership, giving you webinars and CPD coaching workbooks which will help transform your working life. Links are in the show notes.

Now before we dive into this episode, I’d like to share a word from our partners from this series on complaints. It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed. And for many healthcare professionals, it’s not only feelings of burnout and stress which can be challenging. There’s also the nagging worry of making a mistake and a patient claim being made against you. It’s enough to give you restless nights and impact your day-to-day, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re a member of Medical Protection or Dental Protection, you can access a range of support from clinical professionals who understand what you face, who are here to help you with not just the legal stuff, but your emotional and mental well being too, from expert medical and dental legal teams to independent counselling, through to webinars and on-demand content. You can access it all as part of your membership, so you can focus on loving your job, not fretting about it. Find out more at medicalprotection.org, and dentalprotection.org. And now, here’s the episode.

Welcome to another episode in our series on surviving complaints. And this episode is all about actually how to look after yourself and what to do whilst you’re going through a complaint, how to survive that. And I’m really, really pleased to have me on this episode with me. First of all, Dr Jessica Harland. Welcome, Jess.

Dr Jessica Harland: Hi.

Rachel: Jessica’s a GP partner, and she practised in London. She has, obviously, a lot of patience. And as part of, you know, running practices deals with complaints a lot. She’s a GP trainer. She’s a PCM clinical director, and she’s able to give us a really brilliant clinical perspective from the coalface. Thank you so much for being with us. I’m also really, really pleased to welcome Dr Heidi Mounsey. Now, Heidi is a medicolegal consultant for MPS. She has a background in anaesthetics and palliative care where she works as a doctor there. So she’s got a wealth of experience, working in hospitals, and also now helping people as they go through complaints. So welcome, Heidi.

Heidi Mounsey: Thank you for inviting me.

Rachel: And also it’s a great pleasure to have with me back my colleague, Caroline Walker, Dr Caroline Walker, who is an NHS trained psychiatrist and therapist, and she now specialises in doctors’ wellbeing, she founded The Joyful Doctor. And she also works with practitioner health, and supports a lot of doctors who are going through the complaints process. So, Caroline, good to have you with us as well.

Dr Caroline Walker: Great to be here, Rachel, thanks for having me.

Rachel: So I wanted first, I think, to start off with by saying, we, I hear very little about complaints? I think doctors don’t like talking about them. Yes, we all know people that are either going through complaints at the moment, or certainly have had one, often people have had nasty complaints. And I think it’s really prevalent, but actually, we’re not sharing it. We’re not talking about it very much. And actually, I’ve had some trouble finding people who are willing to really share their stories, because I think people feel embarrassed, feel all these sorts of different emotions that we go through with complaints, which is why I think it’s so so important to talk about it. And I just really want to ask each of you really, what’s been your experience of either going through stuff or supporting people who’ve been going through stuff. Caroline, you see lots of lots of doctors, and particularly doctors in quite a lot of distress, don’t you?

Caroline: Yes, absolutely. And I just want to echo what you’ve shared there, Rachel, that complaints are just a very, very normal, common part of being a doctor, in our medical lives, but they can feel incredibly isolating. When you’re going through one, it can feel like you’re the only person that’s ever happened to, and it’s ever going to happen to you. But please, if you’re listening to this, and you’ve had a complaint or you’re worried about getting a complaint, please know you’re not alone. It’s incredibly common.

Rachel: It’s interesting. On other podcast episodes that we’ve recorded, we’ve been talking about the fact that it is just an occupational hazard, you know, if you wash enough dishes, you’re going to, you’re going to drop a couple of them. But we don’t have that mindset. Really, do we ever come back about that in a second. But Jess, how, what’s your sort of experience in this whole area?

Jessica: Well, I’m really glad you’re talking about this topic. today. Like many doctors, I’ve had a steady trickle of complaints over my career. I think I got my first complaint in my house or my first house job, which was absolutely mortifying, devastating. And later on, as a GP, they do come in from time to time, you get that email with the heading, Subject: Complaint, and you get a tachycardia. And your stomach drops through, through the floor. And very often that the only person you talk to about it really is the practice manager who, you know, quite understandably just wants to get it dealt with and, and move on. But what I now have later on in my career is the perspective of being able to see that everybody else is getting complaints as well. And you know, there are some doctors, I can tell you, who get one every other month. And I really am grateful for the opportunity to share that experience because I would have really appreciated that in my earlier days where you, as Caroline said, you feel like you’re the only one it’s happening to and everybody thinks you’re a terrible doctor and your questioning your career choices and it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Rachel: Thank you That’s so interesting that it goes on a lot but we just don’t mention we don’t we don’t know about it the way and Heidi you obviously deal with lots of doctors when they come to you for advice.

Heidi: Yes, so my role is supporting doctors going through the complaints process on a very, on a very practical level and I agree completely with what Jess has said. People do come to us and they say, ‘I’m I’m so ashamed that I’ve got this complaint. I’m really upset by it. I don’t know what to do’. And I advise and guide them through their through the practicalities of approaching a response to a complainant, I will review their response to complainants before it goes out, I can make suggestions as to how best to approach the matter to try and avoid it escalating, that it’s clearly a frustrating and distressing process for individuals. And it does add a lot of stress, it is very time consuming. And what I like to think that I can help with is just to reduce that stress, and perhaps even reduce the amount of time that it takes if we can resolve a complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant with the first response, for example, so that it doesn’t drag on and it doesn’t escalate.

Rachel: That’s what we all want, right? Is it just to be done and dusted, and for it to go away? No, no more, obviously doesn’t always happen like that, does it? Why do you think we don’t share this with our colleagues, we don’t talk about it much. Given that it is an occupational hazard, and most people get them, why don’t we talk about it more?

Jessica: I think that’s a really good question. I think it depends a little bit on the nature of the complaint, where it’s sort of a system complaint or general frustration with everything sort of thing that’s fairly easy to deal with. But sometimes complaints can be quite personal, about your professionalism. And I think particularly if the complaint has come out of the blue, and you felt that the consultation was going fine, and you’re in control, and then somebody tells you that actually, you haven’t done a very good job. That’s very uncomfortable.

And I’ve been reflecting on a sort of bigger theme, which is that as healthcare professionals, often, so much of our sense of self, our self esteem, our status in our families, in our society, is based on our profession and our career, that when somebody criticises you, and it’s very much you personally, it’s extremely painful. And if you feel that your professionalism has been brought into doubt, I think that’s understandably something that people don’t necessarily want to share.

Rachel: So it’s this implied feeling that we’ve been criticised, and that actually, we may have done something dreadfully heinously wrong. And I think perhaps it’s our own inner critic that’s stopping us as well as more about what other people might think.

Jessica: Partly? I think, perhaps sometimes we are a bit judgemental about colleagues, that probably contributes. I think there’s something also about our own status as a professional, and we like to think that we are in charge, and we’re in control of the situation. And when somebody takes back some of that control, and you’re sort of demoted, I think that can be quite difficult to deal with as well. It’s quite humbling. And that takes some adjustment.

Rachel: It’s very difficult to think that we have, you know, failed in our professional duty or made that mistake. We don’t give ourselves much of a break. So we don’t make allowances for ourselves and allowances that not everyone is 100% perfect all the time. I mean, Caroline, I’d love to ask you, what sort of emotions do we, do you see with people that are going through complaints for the people that are really, really struggling?

Caroline: So we see I see a lot of really common similar emotions and reactions from doctors, when they go through a complaint process. Guilt and shame comes tumbling into the room straightaway, usually whether or not they have done anything wrong. There’s often a lot of anger and frustration at how the complaint came about, or how it’s been handled since, or that simply how long it’s taking to resolve. I see quite a lot of anxiety about getting more complaints, getting other complaints, and lots of doctors then changing their practice to try to avoid anything else going wrong. And I also see quite a bit of grief, or kind of sense of the doctor sort of feeling like they’ve lost their relationship with medicine that they have before. This is something they’ve wanted to do their whole lives quite often, and they thought was going to be this incredibly rewarding and wonderful career and sometimes something like a big complaint comes along and it can completely take over for several months, sometimes even several years. I’ve worked with a couple of doctors recently who had a complaint maybe three, four years ago. We’re still carrying that burden, the emotional burden of it with them today. So I think yeah, I mean a whole range of emotion. But I’d say the commonest ones are the shame and guilt, anger, frustration, anxiety, and perhaps a sense of grief or loss.

Jessica: And so I would add that I think a very common emotion initially is defensiveness, and blaming the complainant. And I actually think that that’s something we will have to do. I think it’s part of process that you go through, that it wasn’t me, this is absolutely unreasonable. You go through that as part of your coping strategy. But I think it is quite important to be able to move to the next stage, which is to have a little bit more understanding of the perspective of the complainant.

Caroline: Yeah, I’d agree, Jess, and I think often that initial defensiveness is covering up the anxiety is covering up that, ‘Oh, my god, did I actually do something really wrong here? Or something terrible gonna happen to me? Am I going to lose my licence? Am I going to, you know, get into trouble here, am I going to lose my job?’ Things like that. Naturally, we want to avoid that at all costs, so we want to put the blame elsewhere. But actually part of the process, particularly if you have been responsible for something going wrong, is coming to an acceptance around that, and seeing other people’s perspectives.

Rachel: That’s really hard, right? I’m just thinking, when I’ve had complaints in the past, you look back and you think, right, what happened there, and you look back and go, ‘Oh, thank God, it wasn’t really my fault! Shoo, that lets me off the hook’. But what about those times where you genuinely did make a mistake, something went wrong and something bad has happened? You do feel genuinely bad, and it was your fault. How do you even begin to start to cope with those emotions, that crushing guilt, and then the shame?

Caroline: I think this comes back to what Jess was saying that over time, you, you start, you have to lower your expectations of yourself, essentially. So as doctors, we have these ridiculously high expectations that we’re all going to be perfect and never make big mistakes. And, and actually, of course, we’re not, we’re human, right? We all make mistakes, I’ve made big mistakes, it’s, and I think when we start to lower those, or adjust those expectations of ourselves and get a bit more realistic, because actually, it’s okay. All right, you know, when you start to talk about other people, to other people who’ve made mistakes, that really normalises it takes a bit of the shame out of it, you can start to treat yourself like every other human being that you treat really kindly and compassionately. You can say, okay, yeah, I made a mistake. I’ve got it wrong. But I’m gonna learn from that.

Jessica: A couple of things. I always say when I’m talking through a complaint with a colleague or registrar, first thing is I always say, ‘Great, you’ve got something to talk to your appraiser about now. There’s nothing too dreadful. What you want is the sort of fairly minor complaint that you can reflect on and pad out your appraisal with’. But secondly, CQC loves complaints. CQC are fascinated by the complaints that you’ve had. For everyone who doesn’t know what’s the CQC is that’s the Care Quality Commission. And what they’re really interested in is patient safety, quite rightly. And what they really want to know is when you’ve had complaints, or if you’ve had complaints, but when you’ve had complaints, how have you, as an organisation, responded to those, and if you can show that you have learnt from them, and shared the learning with your team that scores really well in their eyes. So I actually think one of the things that’s going to be really important in normalising and coping with complaints is that organisations are much more proactive in sharing complaints and talking about complaints.

Rachel: Yeah, 100% agree. And it’s sort of it’s changing that mindset, isn’t it from, ‘Oh, no, I’ve done something wrong, too. Oh, good. I can learn from this. And we can make everything better for everybody, including the patient.’ Exactly. This is a learning thing.

Heidi: I think in a lot of cases, it’s not that the doctor or the healthcare professional, has done something wrong. Often a lot of complaints arise as a result of miscommunication. And complaints can be very, very personal and absolutely scathing. And you are expected to maintain your professionalism and respond to this in a very factual and objective way. And that can be very difficult.

Jessica: I would say complaints are almost always about communication. And Heidi, yes, that’s definitely been my experience when I’ve been overseeing everyone’s complaints.

But sometimes I’m sure you will feel like I want to complain about you. Where is the organisation that I can send my letter of complaint to? Your behaviour is vile. and I think Heidi will know more about this, but in terms of what’s required and how we respond to complaints that if you feel that complaints are repeatedly antagonistic, or I can’t remember the exact phrase they use, you can

Heidi: Vexatious.

Jessica: Vexatious, that’s a great word. Yeah, you can decline to respond, I think.

Caroline: That’s lovely. That’s a really good example of gaining a little bit of control back in the situation. Net, because complaints are fundamentally a situation where something’s come along, often out of the blue, where you feel like it’s out of your control, something’s happening to you that might kind of spin even further out of control. And that’s where the anxiety comes in, and the fear. So to actually be able to look at it in that way, reframe it and go, well hang on a minute, I’ve got a choice here about how I respond to this complaint is really empowering for a doctor.

Rachel: That’s a really good point, Caroline, because I was reflecting. One of the reasons why I wanted to do this series was I have a colleague and a friend, and she had a dreadful complaint last year. And actually it, when we look back, it wasn’t really much to do with her. But it, they, the complainant came, it felt like they were coming after her. It all got done and dusted him and it was okay. But for those nine months, when she was going for it, she was a very senior GP, okay. She’d had complaints before, but it completely floored her and she was anxious. She wasn’t sleeping, she just wasn’t doing it.

I mean, lockdown didn’t help, of course. But I just observed this person and thought this is not, this is not right, you know, I could see this person almost on the edge of taking time off work with stress. And I know that happens a lot with people. And I thought actually, there must be a better way to do this. And I think sort of seeing it’s an occupational hazard and having some training and almost making a plan of how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to respond and manage before it happens, how can we do that?

And I just wanted to ask you, what difference can you see between people that seem to be coping pretty well through the complaints process, and people that really aren’t coping very well? Well, is there any difference? Can you see them doing things differently in terms of looking after themselves and managing themselves? Or is it slightly random?

Heidi: I think there is a difference, I would say that one of the one of the differences is how the complaint is written, which obviously the doctor themselves or the healthcare professional has no control over. But a complaint that is about systems and process and a complaint that is, in itself, quite factually and objectively written, is a lot easier for someone to handle than a complaint which says, ‘You are wrong, you are a horrible person, I don’t like you, and my loved one is dead because of something you have done or something you didn’t do’. And that second approach prompts a much more, I think, visceral reaction in the healthcare professional. And it tends to lead to, I would say, there are two extremes. I mean, obviously, there is a spectrum.

But that sort of complaint, I think tends to lead to two extremes of response: One is that this is completely unjustified. I have done nothing wrong. How dare you complain about me like that. This is absolutely not fair. Go away, I’m not even going to bother responding to this, this is so inappropriate. And they are defensive, and they are angry, whether or not there’s anything actually there in the complaint that’s justifiable. And the second extreme are those that kind of go, Well, I am responsible, I killed this person, this person is dead because of something I have done. Whether that’s true or not, that’s what they’re thinking. And they come to me, they phone me up that I’m going to have to leave the medical profession. I can’t, I can’t go on like this, this is my fault, and they want to fall on the sword. They want to write a letter, which just apologises and says yes, you’re right. I did all these terrible things.

And for both of those extremes, part of my role is to unpick what the complainant is actually saying, and how the healthcare professional sees what is actually being said here. What is this person’s concerns? What are they worried about? What are they really complaining? Is this an outpouring of their own grief? Perhaps. And then you need to take that into account when you’re thinking about the when you’re thinking about the response. So I think people do get very distressed, and that emotion comes out in a number of different ways. But I would say those are the two extremes we see when a complaint is deeply personal.

When a complaint is systems or process only, why did it take the hospital this long to process my referral? Why did it take you three days to write the referral to the hospital? Why did the receptionist tell me that my blood results were normal when actually, you know, my sodium was a tiny bit raised? I think those are far less personal. They’re a lot easier to deal with. Or even when it is something that’s occurred within the consultation. You said I had this, and actually I’ve been to the hospital and I’ve got cancer. Why didn’t you tell me it was cancer? it’s put in a very factual way. It’s put in a very objective way. and the doctor is then able to write back to the patient and say, ‘Well, I didn’t know it was cancer. But that was my concern, and so that’s why I’ve referred you to the hospital.’

I think people are able to manage those complaints much more easily. There’s a rational, it’s a rational complaint to start with. And there is a clear explanation that the doctor can give. And I would say, actually, that probably that the way that the complaint is written really does have a tremendous impact on how the doctor responds and how the doctor is able to deal with that.

Rachel: That feels quite powerless to me, though, because we’re not in control of how the complaint is, is written. And so I guess, you just got to hope that you get the good complaints. A, but then there must be something even if it’s written really badly, that we actually are in control. Jess, what’s your experience of all of this?

Jessica: I think what Heidi said there is so insightful, and I think it’s lovely that you shared that experience with us about, you know, the example of this, this letter could well be an outpouring of the complainant’s own grief. And I think the protection organisations are always fantastically constructive and helpful when you do contact them. But of course, how much you can support individuals is limited. And I think if you feel stuck, and you feel like you are unable to move forward and still internalising all the criticism, and what have you, that I think we must feel able to reach out and debrief with somebody to get more, well, just another perspective. And fortunately, in dental practice with fairly well provided for that, and Caroline, I’m sure will have suggestions about who to speak to if you don’t have anyone immediately within your organisation.

Caroline: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the first people I would point doctors in this country towards this practitioner health, NHS practitioner health. A free and confidential service that can support you through the emotional impact of receiving a complaint. And I think what you both mentioned there around perspective is really, really important, because when a doctor receives a complaint, often it’s received as like a one way attack, as if the complainer is complaining about you. And it’s directly at you. And actually, I find it really helpful to remember that there’s three things going on here, not two. There’s not them and you; there’s there’s them, and what’s happened, and how they’re saying it as you, but there’s also the thing that has happened.

And if you can take that thing that has happened slightly off and away from you and look at it with a bit more perspective, it often helps to relieve some of that, you know, this is personal to me, this is about me as a person. It’s actually about something we can both look at and learn from together.

Jessica: Another thing I try to encourage people to think about, and I’m saying all this, you know, I’m coaching myself through this as well, because I obviously go through this process myself, but I think it’s important to remember in any doctor-patient situation or doctor-relative situation, there is a power differential. And the doctor is perceived as having all the control by the patient or the relative. And often if you, particularly if the complaint is about something that you’ve said no to or haven’t agreed to, or you decided on one course of action when they wanted another course of action, I think often especially when there’s been a conflict, and you have kind of reached an impasse, you have to remember the only route left to the patient at that point is really to complain. It’s always because they just pick up the phone, we have a conversation. It’s not that easy, is it, really, to connect with your GP. There’s always layers of protection and barriers that they have to get through to get their voice heard. So I think having some awareness of that can help you feel a little more sympathetic to the complainant as well.

Rachel: So that thing about sort of being able to depersonalise it suppose to the person from the problem and realising, yeah, that actually in their case, this may be the only route that they that they can see they want to lash out at something and blame something because they’ve got their own stuff to deal with. I think that can be really helpful. It’s quite hard to depersonalise stuff on your own. I find talking to a friend or a colleague is much easier than intensive debriefing.

Caroline: All of these feelings breed and get worse in silence. You know, feeling guilty, feeling ashamed, feeling angry, feeling anxious — they all get worse in silence. And if you’re just trying to deal with them on your own, whereas actually just talking through with someone that it’s a friend, family member or a professional colleague, it will help to ease it. It may not be the easiest conversation you’ve ever started in your life, but it gets easier, the more you talk about it.

Heidi: So no, I would completely agree. And again, you know, whoever is handling the complaint for you, if you contact your indemnity organisation, they will have seen a lot of complaints, they are very happy to help people gain that perspective. And again, your indemnity organisation can also point you in the direction of additional help if that is needed. And they are an objective body. They will be able to say, Well, what was the rationale for doing this particular thing at this particular time? How can we put that in this response to the patient?

And they will also, I would always encourage people to offer an apology, even if they don’t think the complaint is particularly justified. Even if they’re just offering an apology to say, well, ‘I’m sorry you’ve had cause to write this complaint’, even if they can address every clinical point that’s raised in the complaint, offering an apology goes a long way. I don’t know whether Caroline or Jess have any views on this. But I think that’s something that people find very difficult to do when they don’t think an apology is necessarily warranted.

Caroline: I think offering an apology, when you don’t think it’s warranted is incredibly hard. I mean, we’ve all had arguments with loved ones, haven’t we, our friends are like, No, I’m not gonna back down, you know, but I do agree it’s an important part of the healing process, but often you come to it later than would be ideal. So sometimes doing it through gritted teeth can be helpful to begin with, and then later, you feel it a little bit more genuinely, as you process the emotions and what’s happened. And, yeah, come to an acceptance of the different perspectives.

Rachel: Yeah, I guess that’s something you are in control of, isn’t it? Like you said that one of the big problems or complaints is you just feel out of control, it’s all gone out of your control? Often, there’s investigations going on, that you can’t do anything about, apart from, you know, documenting and how you communicate with the patient. But I think that, then that’s that becomes really, really important, actually, what can you control and what you’re gonna do with that thing that you can control? And how you can get, make the most out of it? Yeah, Jess, what do you think?

Jessica: In terms of starting to assert some control, I think a good way to start tackling the complaint, try to break down the complaint into specific bits that they’re complaining about, and and try and do numbered points. And then you can start to address those, specifically. And so you’re sort of when it can feel quite overwhelming, and you don’t really know how to start. I think that’s quite a good way to get going.

Rachel: And we’ve actually recorded a whole episode on you know, what to do in that moment when you get that complaint. Now, what should you do in this and fantastic advice in that other episode. What I’d like to move on to talk about now is actually, how do you look after yourself when you’re going through a complaint? Because I just, like I said, I’ve seen people go off sick, I’ve seen people falling apart, there’s been some very tragic stories of people, doctors committing suicide whilst they’ve been going through the complaints process. That’s just an awful, awful state of affairs. I mean, just sort of looking back at maybe complaints that you’ve been through personally, what do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you know now, that you’d sort of go back and say to your past self, this is what I’d do differently. This is what I’d do. In terms of looking after yourself.

Jessica: I don’t know what I’d do differently. I think it’s just having a better awareness of why complaints arise that makes it easier these days. But definitely talking through it with somebody is something we’ve talked about already. I think another thing to bear in mind is that it may be that if you were feeling in control of everything else, you would be able to deal with that complaint perfectly well. But if that complaint happens to come along at a time when you’re feeling under pressure in other ways, and actually, that pressure has probably contributed to the complaint arising in the first place, then it can really tip you over the edge. And I think, I don’t want to have everyone go sick at all, but I think if you feel you need a break, take a break. I think as doctors we were absolutely allergic to the idea of not coping and having to just push on through. But if you’re crying every day before going to work or if you’re not sleeping night after night, you need to take some time out, and I think act on that.

Rachel: That’s fantastic advice and just thinking even if you don’t actually take time off work, you maybe need to look at your schedule and think Is there anything I need to drop right now just need to get off my plate to give myself some emotional time and headspace to be able to process this. Caroline is that sort of advice you give people?

Caroline: Yeah, 100% I mean, complaints tend to be things that fill our brains very, very quickly. And we start to get really preoccupied by them. We’re thinking about them all the time, we’re carrying them with us everywhere. And, and it can be very, very easy to drop your basic self care, actually, you can say, miss meals, go to bed a bit later, not talk to your friends, cancel plans, all of those sorts of things that keep us well, and happy and able to manage and cope and deal with complaints, we tend to drop quite quickly. So I would say, keep an eye on the basics. Make sure you’re still looking after yourself, brushing your teeth, having your meals, you know, going to bed at normal time. And then talk with someone about it. Don’t keep it to yourself, because all of it, all of the bad stuff that comes with complaints gets worse if it’s left in silence or just in your own head. So yeah, reach out to somebody, whoever you feel you can trust at that time.

Jessica: Another thing to bear in mind is a bit like grief. It does eventually hurt a bit less. It will be preoccupying and painful for a while. But eventually, you will just move on and it will pass. And that was that, you know, I’ve had complaints, and you do recover even though it feels like you might not at the time.

Caroline: Yeah, naming that can be really helpful content just so when they, when I know when I get that email comes into my inbox, and you get that sinking feeling like oh, God, I’ve done something wrong. And the shame storm starts if I can just say to myself, oh, okay, I’ve been triggered here. I’m in my shame someone is going to be okay, I’m going to feel like this for a few hours, probably. But it will ease throughout the day. And it’ll probably feel a bit better tomorrow, and a week from now, and a year from now, I may not even remember it. I remember the feelings that when things like the emails drop in to my inbox, but I can’t remember about—

Rachel: —the health, there’s a phrase written in the main entrance of Addenbrooke’s, ‘It will pass, whatever it is’. And I think that it’s good to remember that, that it will pass. But Caroline, I just want to ask you, just thoughts about being really preoccupied with what’s going on at the time, and we can then stop to fixate on stuff and go into these recurrent shame storms. How do we stop ourselves from doing that? Is it possible to stop ourselves from doing that?

Caroline: So I think, no, I think we’re human beings. And I think we get triggered, shame gets triggered, and, and when it happens, it’s horrible. And we’ve all experienced it somewhere along the line. What I think we can do is being much kinder to ourselves when it happens, and not be with it and make it worse. So when I used to get complaints, sort of in my early years of my career, I would really wallow in them. I would beat myself up with them, I would stay you know, thinking about them not talking to other people. I would stop doing all the things that have helped keep me, kept me going and kept me well.

Now as I say when I get triggered, and it still happens every week or two at the moment, I’ll get something I think, oh, have I done something wrong there. I’m much kinder to myself about it. I’m like, oh, okay, oh, that’s made me feel a bit uneasy or a bit anxious or a bit, okay, well, what’s going to be nice, we’ll make let’s look at the rest of the day. How does the rest of day look? How can I take something off my plate, or who could I talk to? How soon can I do that?

And I start, so the way I relate to it changed. I think we can’t stop it from happening completely. I think we’re all going to get those intrusive thoughts that are unpleasant. And it is not nice when you know you have done something that has harmed another person that is deeply, deeply uncomfortable for us, particularly as doctors. So I think you’re not going to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings and getting difficult thoughts, but it’s about when they happen, being really conscious of them. And looking after yourself in a way that reduces the intensity of them. And means they don’t last quite so long.

Jessica: Absolutely, Caroline. I think if we didn’t respond emotionally, we’d be psychopaths. But we certainly wouldn’t be doctors. But I think give yourself permission to say, you know what, I’ve had enough of the self-flagellation now I need to get on. I need to get on with my job. Yes, I screwed up, or maybe I got, you know, didn’t get something, didn’t do something as well as I should have done. But it’s time to move on now.

Caroline: Yeah, I find it easy. I find the thing that helps me is to remember that all the time I’m spending thinking about me, like, Oh, no, I’ve done this terrible thing, I’m such a bad doctor, is time I am not helping someone else. I’m not helping the next patient or not like raising my children. I’m not living my full life. Right. I’m just basically wasting time beating myself up. So I think, feel it, acknowledge it. And then yeah, gently move on. And if you’re finding that you can’t do that yourself, then get some help to do that.

Heidi: And although it sounds really trite, I would say to people, ‘Remember that you are not the first person who has ever had a complaint. You are not the last person who has ever had a complaint. This is part of being a doctor, and actually the CQC, or your employer or your trust or your appraiser, will find it very, very strange if you go through the entirety of your career, never ever receiving a complaint at all. It is part of life in clinical practice. And I think one of the important things that people can do is to recognise that this is a normal part of being a doctor.

Caroline: That’s reminded me of another great tip as well, which is when, if it’s your first complaint, try to pretend as if it’s your third or fourth complaint, as if you’ve already had two or three under your belt. You’ve got through them, you’re okay, you’ve learned from them. And actually, it kind of takes the sting out of that first one feeling like, oh, my God, the world’s gonna end. And that’s a tip I got from my midwife when I had my first child. You know, she said, ‘Just pretend this is your third child, and you’ve got another child over there running into the fire and another one in the other room screaming and you don’t have to give all your attention to this one thing.’ Same for a complaint, you know, it doesn’t have to take over your life. It can just be a part of what is going on for you at the moment.

Rachel: Yeah, I think just remembering that it is part of your job. It is part of being a doctor or a healthcare professional, that you will get people that are not happy with outcomes and weird things that have happened. And if we start to see it as our professional responsibility to be able to deal with complaints, and it’s like, oh, yeah, there’s that bit of a job that’s come here, even though you’re completely, we all completely dread it because no one likes to be criticised or, or supported or to do things wrong.

So I’m just wondering, is there any other sort of quick tips, practical advice you give to people when they are going through this, there’s already talks about trying to get some control back, you know, think about what you can control, what’s out of your control. We talked about depersonalising stuff, trying to say the same as, there’s you this patient, and there’s the thing that’s happened and getting some perspective. We’ve talked about the importance of debriefing with people and talking to colleagues about it. We’ve talked about some self-care and when, that the importance of maybe trying not to wallow in it and just give those thoughts a lot of credence.

I guess one of the things I was thinking as well is, pay attention to your self-talk as well. What are you saying to yourself in your mind? Are you talking like you’re talking to your best friend? Because most of us aren’t, we talk to ourselves in a really dreadful way. We berate ourselves, we tell ourselves all the time. But actually, what would you say if you were talking to your best friend in that situation, then? Caroline, you mentioned getting some stuff off your plate. And just going down to the basics of self care. What do I need right now? Am I looking after myself? And Jess said, if you need to, that might include taking some time off work, taking some, taking the time that you need? If you’ve got any other tips and advice, Jess, what about you?

Jessica: Just in terms of prevention, or controlling the controllables, if you are in a sort of pattern of getting, you know, a number of complaints, do think about what else you’re trying to achieve that time, whether it’s lots of childcare responsibilities, or working too many surgeries, or maybe you need to make your appointments a bit longer. And I’ve talked about this before, but there’s an acronym of halt H-A-L-T, which stands for hungry, angry, late, tired. Those, I think the defence organisations have probably recognised or make complaints more likely to happen. So if you can do anything to avoid those particular circumstances, that would probably be sensible.

Rachel: I think he also just that halt thing, probably when you’re going through a complaint, it probably seems a little worse if you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired as well. So if you’re ruminating on stuff, maybe just go and have a snack or all you know, calm yourself down and think, ‘Right, I’ll worry about this another time’. But at the moment, it probably is amplified because it’s in the middle of the night or I’m just tired or I’m knackered either. No, Caroline, would you say that to people?

Caroline: Yeah, I use halt all the time, although instead of late, I’ll use lonely. And I think for me, it would fit here in terms of not carrying the burden of the complaint on your own, but getting the professional support from someone like Heidi, or from someone like myself with your mental health or from a colleague.

Rachel: And what sorts of other things do you recommend, Caroline?

Caroline: I think when you’re in the middle of it, I think what we need, what I need, when I’m in the middle of a complaint, is somebody to tell me it’s going to be okay. You know, it’s going to be alright. We will get through this. Well, however bad my head is telling me it’s going to be, it is going to be okay. So I think it’s just remembering those basic human needs, to feel, but we’re not a terrible person. This isn’t the end of the world, and there are things that can be done to help us through it.

Rachel: What about you, Heidi?

Heidi: From a very practical point of view, I’d say, don’t send out your first response to a complaint without having it checked, be that by an indemnity organisation or a trusted colleague. Don’t send out that first response. Because however factual and objective and neutral you think you are being, you probably aren’t in that first response. And by all means, let that first response be your outpouring of anger, and grief, and distress. And be subjective, and be all of the things that your indemnity organisation will then tell you know, don’t do that. Be all of those in your first response. But absolutely do not send it out, make sure any response you send out is checked First, get those objective eyes on it.

Caroline: That’s a fantastic bit of advice, Heidi, and I call it doing a no send. So you write a letter or an email, but you don’t write it in your email accounts you accidentally send it. You write it in something like Word or notebook or where you can just get it all out and say what you want to say. Use the bad language and the swear word and be unprofessional, if you want to be because it’s important to process and get those emotions out. But not to send that so do a no send, then pause and then respond. So the difference between reacting and responding.

Rachel: I think one of the things as well as don’t expect things to be done and dusted really, really quickly. We want that to happen for— I think I can’t be happy, I can’t get rid of my anxiety until it’s finished, until it’s resolved. Actually, it might get one— unfortunately, some of these go on for years, don’t they? And so that’s slightly—Is it right? So that’s probably a bit unrealistic.

Heidi: Yeah, I mean, some of them do go on for a long time. Some of them do end up having other organisations involved. If a patient isn’t happy with your response as a GP, they can escalate it to NHS England, who may then choose to investigate other aspects of your practice. Ultimately, it can end up with your GMC or other regulatory body. And the idea obviously, is with any complaint, to try and resolve it as swiftly as possible. But I think if people are aware that they can go on for a long time, I think, hopefully, they will be in a mentally in a better place to deal with all of this.

Caroline: I’ll often advise doctors to put a boundary around the time that they’re looking at the complaint. So rather than sort of dipping into it, thinking about it every single day, maybe putting aside some time to think about it on a particular day at a particular time, when you know that you’re going to be in a relatively good place. So maybe morning’s about a few or afternoons. But setting aside time and putting a boundary around it so that you can then put it away again, mentally speaking, or put it in a little box, put the lid on, and then get it back out again when you need to. But rather than carrying it with you the whole time.

Rachel: Yeah, that’s great advice. So time is very nearly up. I’d love to just ask for each of your your three, three top tips for, you’ve had the complaint, how you survive and look after yourself whilst that complaint is is going on? What are your three top tips? Caroline?

Caroline: Feel your feelings and vent them in healthy ways. Look at the basics of your self care. Things like your eating, sleeping, socialising, basic self care, and then don’t do it on your own. Share it with someone, talk with someone, get support.

Rachel: Thank you. Heidi?

Heidi: I think my tips are all very practical in nature. First of all, I would say contact your indemnity organisation. Even if you don’t think this is a very serious complaint. Even if you think you can manage this on your own. Contact them. It’s what they’re there for, and it’s what you’re paying us for. It’s what you’re paying us to do, so make use of that resource. The second thing I would say is offer an apology. I think we’ve already said this, but offer an apology even in those cases where you don’t think the complaint is justified. Because this is very likely to help resolve this as soon as possible. And the quicker the complaint is resolved, the quicker your stress will go away. And the third thing I would say is yes, by all means write that first response, vent your feelings, absolutely. But destroy any drafts of your complaint response. Do not leave them hanging around in the patient’s file somewhere, in the complaint file, on your computer. Once you’ve sent the final response, store that final response and delete any other drafts so they cannot accidentally come to light at another time.

Rachel: That’s great. That’s very good advice. And it just struck me that, I think sometimes we set off with complaints with the wrong objective in mind, we want to prove that we’re right, as opposed to resolve the complaints.

Heidi: Absolutely. Your purpose here is just to resolve the complaint to everybody’s satisfaction.

Rachel: Yeah, yeah. And then make sure you’ve learned from it and that it’s actually improved in practice and all that sort of stuff as well. Finally, Jess?

Jessica: I echo everything — not left with very many — I would say, remind yourself that dealing with complaints is part of your professional role. Try to look at it from the complainants perspective, as much as possible, it will actually make it easier to be easier on yourself if you can understand where they’re coming from, or try to. And lastly, I would say, just cut yourself a break. And as Caroline said, don’t waste too much time beating yourself up because it’s not helping anybody, either you or the person complaining against you. So just remember everything else that you need to get on with.

Rachel: Thank you. Brilliant advice. Finally, finally. Caroline, I just wanted to say if someone is really struggling with this sort of thing right now, where can they go for help?

Caroline: So if you’re struggling with a complaint, I would say there are lots of different areas you can go for help try and pick somewhere you feel comfortable and safe, you can go to a defence union, you could go to your GP, you could go to your colleagues and your professional network, and if you want some confidential by the mental health support, you could come to something like the NHS Practitioner Health Program. If you just search ‘practitioner health’ in Google, it will come up and you can self-refer for free and confidential support around your mental health.

Rachel: Right, thank you so much. Just encourage people to get a tribe around you, get your people around you as your little support crew who are going to cheer you on, check on you. Just make sure you’re doing all right and that you can talk to about it. So really important. Thank you so much guys for being on the podcast. So that’s been really fantastic. If people wanted to get in touch with you or find out more resources, how could they do that?

Heidi: I think if people are a member of a defence organisation, then they would be better placed getting in touch with their own defence organisation but people are always welcome to come to Medical Protection and ask if they need any advice.

Rachel: Jess?

Jessica: Feel free to follow me on Twitter. I’d love to hear from you. I’m @GPJess_Harland.

Rachel: Lovely, thank you, and Caroline?

Caroline: You can get hold of me through The Joyful Doctor, www.joyfuldoctor.com or across all of social media as The Joyful Doctor.

Rachel: Right. And you can obviously see the rest of the podcast episodes and lots of other things that particularly Caroline and I have done around coping with COVID and mental health for doctors and things like that on the You are Not a Frog podcast website. So thank you so much everyone for being with us, and speak again soon. Thank you. Bye.

Thanks for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, then please share it with your friends and colleagues. Please subscribe to my You are Not a Frog email list and subscribe to the podcast. And if you have enjoyed it then please leave me a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. So keep well, everyone. You’re doing a great job. You got this.

Podcast links

Check out our Permission to Thrive CPD membership for doctors!

Access a range of support from clinical professionals who understand what you face. Find out more at Medical Protection and Dental Protection.

NHS Practitioner Health – a free and confidential service that can you support you through the emotional impact of receiving a complaint

Check out the COVID 19 Supporting Doctors Series with Dr Caroline Walker!

Check out the Complaints and How to Survive Them Series!

Connect with Jess: Website | Twitter

Connect with Caroline: The Joyful Doctor | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn

Connect with Heidi: Medical Protection

For more updates and episodes, visit the You Are Not A Frog website.


You can also tune in on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Sign up here to receive a link to the episode workbook and CPD form downloads for each podcast. You can use them for reflection and to submit for your appraisal.


You can also join the Shapes Collective Facebook group where we chat about the hot topics and regularly post interesting articles. Have any questions?

Contact Rachel through these platforms:

LinkedIn: @Dr-Rachel-Morris

Twitter: @DrRachelMorris

Email: rachel@wildmonday.co.uk

Find out more about our training here. Here’s to surviving and thriving inside and outside our work!

Other Podcasts

Episode 171: How to Avoid Amygdala Hijack Part 2

Picking up where we left off, this quick dip episode dives into the last four factors of the SCARF Model. We learn more about tips and techniques that can help minimise threats and improves our response. Reward yourself and develop habits that can help you feel certain, in control, and supported even amidst all the stress. Learn how to better manage your stress and respond to difficult situations. Avoid an amygdala hijack when you listen to this episode!

Episode 170: How to Feel Happy, Calm, and Connected

Do you ever wish you could stop endlessly overthinking things you have no control over? Dr Giles P Croft is back on the podcast to discuss his experience of having a TIA that caused his left brain to stop functioning properly. We discuss how our thinking left brain often gets in the way of us staying in the present moment. We also lay down simple ways to get reacquainted with our right brain. Stay tuned to this episode to gain wisdom on how to live a happier, calmer, and connected life.

Episode 169: How to Avoid Amygdala Hijack Part 1

In this quick dip episode, we uncover the overarching principle of the amygdala. We discuss how to avoid an amygdala hijack and how not to operate from our threat zone. We have a choice around how we perceive and respond to triggers. We introduce the first principle of the SCARF Model and how to get over it. Learn how to minimise threats for yourself and others. If you want to know how to avoid an amygdala hijack, this episode is for you.

Episode 168: How to Do Something Different in Your Career

Episode 168: How to Do Something Different in Your Career Do you ever feel you’re just repeating the same routine every single day over and over again? Especially in healthcare, feeling stagnant and bored can ultimately lead to burnout. As daunting as it may sound, challenging yourself to try something different can help prevent this. Who knows, you might even discover a newfound passion that can also be profitable in the long run.Jo Watkins, co-founder of The HOW People, joins us to explore entrepreneurial possibilities for medical professionals without leaving their day jobs. We talk about what holds us back from pursuing a business idea and how you can get started on this journey. We also discuss honing the transferable skills you already have to discover what you’d like to try.Stay tuned to this episode if you want to start doing something different in your life and career. Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode: Discover your ‘why’ in life and business. Understand why you learn most by failing. Recognise and hone your transferable skills as a professional and entrepreneur. Episode Highlights [04:50] The Beginning of Jo’s Entrepreneurial Career Jo followed a very traditional path from medical school. She moved to South Wales for a lifestyle change when she met her partner. There, she was able to attain long-term locum practice and move into a part-time partnership. She realised she enjoyed mixing things up early in her partnership. Starting a practice website led her on an entrepreneurial path. Jo started making homemade granola after getting introduced to her cousin’s granola recipe in Canada. Before she knew it, she was selling her granola all around the country. [07:56] Worrying about the Unknown in Business Even at the heyday of her granola business, she still thought she had so much to learn. After acquiring a new skill, it’s all about getting out there and marketing it to people. Having a business involves being uncomfortable and taking steps you couldn’t imagine yourself taking previously. Within a typical clinic day, there are a lot of moments where you are making a real difference. In business, you can have days on end where it seems like you’re not getting anywhere. Tune in to the full episode to learn the secret ingredient for good granola! [10:56] Honing the Skills Within Be more

Episode 166: Are You Ok?

When was the last time you asked yourself, 'How am I?' and took the time to really sit with yourself? If you don't feel ok — that's ok.

Episode 161: The Problem with Boundaries

Boundaries help you stay healthy and sane — so why do we let them crumble? Find out how to maintain your boundaries with power language so you can thrive at work and home.

Episode 160: How to Avoid Burnout on Repeat

Dr Claire Ashley joins us in this episode to discuss the common occurrence of burnout and what we can do to avoid it. You have the option and the permission not to burn out. Tune in to this episode to find out how.

Episode 150: How to Get People To LOVE your Ideas with Toby Moore

Toby Moore joins us in this episode to share communication techniques that can convince the people around you to change. He shares his insights and advice that can improve how you speak to people, whether to an audience of hundreds, a sceptical team, or to a key decision maker or colleague. Want to learn the best communication strategies to convince others to change? Tune in to this episode.

Episode 143: Is It ‘Normal’ Not to Cope?

When you’re burning out, stop blaming yourself and start being compassionate. If you want to know how to cope with stress and burnout in the normal and human way, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 142: How to Stop Your Finances Controlling Your Career

Dr Tommy Perkins joins us for a conversation about money and career. We talk about why people make unusual financial decisions and what motivates a person to spend. Find out how you can make the changes you need in your life without worrying about money when you tune in to this episode.

Episode 141: You Choose

You might feel your obligations box you in. But the truth is, you make a choice whenever you act — even if it seems you have no choice at all.

Episode 140: How To Stop Emotional Eating, Eat Better and Feel Better with Dr Matthea Rentea and Keri Williams

Keri Williams and Dr Matthea Rentea talked about the causes of emotional hunger and how it affects our mood and hormones. They also discussed their inspiring weight loss journey and explained why diets don't always work. Finally, they imparted tried-and-true advice on how to stop emotional eating. Don't miss out on this episode if you're looking for the most practical ways to manage binge eating and experience consistent weight loss!

Episode 138: How to Balance Life and Work

Dr. Claire Kaye joins us in this episode to discuss why we should never aim for work-life balance, and why you should aim for life balance. If you want to learn how to do a life audit to work out your priorities, this episode is for you.

Episode 137: Shark Music

If you're not careful, the assumptions you make can turn your thoughts into a spiral of dread. Don't listen to the shark music!

Episode 134: How to Tell People What They Don’t Want to Hear

No one wants to hear a no from other people. However, for many professionals, knowing how to say no and maintaining your boundaries is a must. Jane Gunn joins us once again to talk about how you can say a clear no. Stay tuned to learn how you can say no in the best possible way.

Episode 133: But Is It A Tiger?

Are the things that annoy you in your daily life causing frustration, irritation, and bad moods? Learn how to stay calm in the face of irritations, shake off disruptions and make better decisions even in the heat of the moment.

Summer Replay 2022 Episode 3 – How to Break Up With Your Toxic Relationship With Your Career with Dr Pauline Morris

Dr Pauline Morris joins us to share her career counselling advice for physicians and other professionals in high stress jobs. We discuss the common pitfalls that lead doctors to unsustainable work habits. Pauline also sheds light on why staying in your comfort zone can be detrimental to your performance. To avert this, she shares tips on how to better recognise and advocate for your own needs. We also learn about the importance of self-care and taking time for yourself.

Summer Replay 2022 Episode 2 – Should I stay or should I go? with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to share how to better relationships and take control and stay in your zone of power. She shares how to make a good decision by questioning thoughts and assumptions. We also discuss how you can change your perspective to become more compassionate, accepting, and empowered. If you want to know how to better relationships, stay in your zone of power, improve your decision-making skills, and be true to yourself, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 131: What To Do If You’re Stressed AND Bored

Rachel discusses how to address and navigate the toxic combination of stress and boredom in the workplace. She talks about the role of learning in living a good, meaningful, and self-actualised life. Rachel also lays down five ways that will enable you to fit learning into your schedule without increasing the chances of burning out.

Episode 130: How to Say F**k It and Become Ridiculously Relaxed (Even about Stuff That REALLY Matters) with John C. Parkin

John C. Parkin joins us today and encourages us to say ‘fuck it’ more in our lives! Not everything is important, and sometimes we try too hard living up to society’s excessive expectations. John shares how overcoming stress and setting boundaries often results in overthinking and feelings of guilty. He wants us to calm down and breathe! Let’s learn to finally prioritise relaxation in our lives and see how much better we become through it. If you’re struggling with stress and want to know how to calm down and let go of what you can’t control, then this episode is for you.

Episode 127: After Burnout: Going Back to Work with Dr Katya Miles

When major issues occur in your life, it’s often necessary to take a break and deal with them, and of course, there’s also the other reasons we take significant time off work - maternity or parental leave, taking a sabbatical or taking a career break. If you want to know how to go back to work thriving, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 126: Using Nature to Answer Your Big Questions With Henri Stevenson

Henri Stevenson joins us to talk about the ways connecting with nature can shift our thinking and open up new solutions. We discuss the differences in our thoughts and feelings when we're in nature versus within artificial walls. She shares her stories of finding metaphors for life situations reflected in nature and what she learned from them. Henri reminds us that sometimes, the solutions to our problems may show up in quiet spaces when we take a few moments to connect with nature. Curious about how to take time to learn and connect with nature? Learn how and much more when you tune into this episode!

Episode 125: How to Say No and Deal with Pushback with Annie Hanekom

Everyone has difficulty enforcing their set boundaries, from top-end executives to junior employees. Logically, we know that we cannot do everything people want, but biologically, our minds are hardwired to please people. In this episode of You Are Not a Frog, Annie Hanekom guides you through how to say no and deal with the inevitable pushback.

Episode 124: How to Change When Change is Scary with Dr Claire Kaye

Change can definitely be scary. However, it doesn’t always have to be a difficult experience. Dr Claire Kaye joins us in this episode to talk about how you can approach change proactively. Whether you dislike change or thrive on it, her insights and enlightening tips will help you make the most of the opportunities in your life. Are you undergoing a difficult change right now? Learn more about how to change even when change is scary in this episode of You Are Not a Frog.

Episode 123: How to Live With No Regrets with Georgina Scull

Georgina Scull joins us in this episode to talk about what she learned from writing the book, Regrets of the Dying: Stories and Wisdom That Remind Us How to Live. She shares three revelations that people have while on their deathbeds: not being able to make other people happy, living up to other people’s expectations, and trying to rewrite history. We walk you through practical steps to help you reflect on your true desires so you can live a meaningful life.

Episode 122: How to be Happy at Work with Sarah Metcalfe

Joining us to talk about the importance of happiness in the workplace - and how we can find it - is Sarah Metcalfe. The founder of Happiness Coffee Consulting, she shares her top tips on simple things you can do to pursue happiness and share it with others. Even in high-stress jobs, it’s possible to choose happiness and spread it. And the results can be extraordinary. If you want to learn more about how and why we should be happy at work, tune in to this episode.

Episode 121: How To Be A Happy Working Parent with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to discuss the common struggles of working parents and the things we need to unlearn. She shares how to take radical responsibility as a parent and delegate responsibilities from housework to emotional load. We also teach you how to stay in your zone of genius and accept help when you need it. It’s time to live a life you love and enjoy, even amidst all your responsibilities! If you’re struggling to balance work and parenting, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 120: Making Online Meetings Work with John Monks

John Monks joins us in this episode to discuss designing better online meetings and interactions. We clarify the difference between a meeting, a presentation, and a workshop. We also discuss creative ways to design online meetings that energise and infuse rather than drain and demotivate. And John shares some simple exercises on limits and boundaries that can radically improve our problem solving and creativity. If you want to know how to make the most out of online meetings, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 118: How to Manage Upwards (and Sideways) with Dr Claire Edwin and Dr Keerthini Muthuswamy

Dr Claire Edwin and Dr Keerthini Muthuswamy talk about their experiences working within a hierarchical system as junior doctors and share what they have found to be essential if you want to build trust and foster good relationships with your seniors, your juniors and your peers. If you want to know how you can build trust and influence your workplace, and manage upwards and sideways this episode is just for you!

Episode 116: What I Got So Wrong About Mindfulness And How It Might Transform Your Life with Dr Steve Pratt

Dr Steve Pratt joins us to discuss what we really mean by mindfulness, and how it could work for you. He'll debunk some of the myths of mindfulness and how you can make it worth your time and effort. We'll discuss how certain techniques can help us live happier, be less anxious, and harness our resources to make better decisions. Finally, Steve shares his mindfulness practices and takes us on a quick three-minute breathing exercise! If you want to learn about mindfulness, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 114: How to Get an Appraisal that Doesn’t Suck with Dr Susi Caesar

Dr Susi Caesar joins us to talk about how you can elevate and enjoy your professional life with annual appraisals. She shares the purpose of appraisals and how they can help you choose the best way forward in your career and personal life. Dr Susi also gives her top tips on what you can do to make this process more meaningful. If you want to know more about appraisals and how you can benefit from them, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 113: What To Do When A Junior Is Badmouthing Your Colleagues with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to discuss what we should do when we see inappropriate behaviour like badmouthing. He shares how we can manage difficult conversations with the intent of helping others. We also discuss the importance of recognising triggers through the SCARF model. If you want to know how to deal with difficult conversations for a better workplace, listen to this episode.

Episode 112: Why We’re Ditching the Term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding joins us to talk about imposter syndrome and why we need to drop the word from our vocabularies. We also discuss how self doubt can be helpful to us. Finally, she shares tips for overcoming wobbles and incorporating more self-compassion into your life. If you want to get over your imposter syndrome and practice self-compassion, then this episode is for you!

Episode 111: What To Do When You Start To See Red with Graham Lee

Graham Lee joins us to discuss our emotional states and ways to apply simple mindfulness techniques to change them. Most conflicts are rooted in unmet needs. When we admit those needs, we can instantly change relationship dynamics. Graham also shares tips on what to do during stressful situations where your emotions cloud your judgement and thinking. If you want to use mindfulness practice to be more aware of your emotions even during difficult situations, tune in to this episode.

Episode 110: How To Stop People Pleasing And Absorbing Other People’s Angst

Dr Karen Forshaw and Chrissie Mowbray join us to discuss how our core beliefs shape the way we respond to situations. When taken too far, empathy and helping people can be a big cause of stress. In addition, we also talk about we can learn to reframe and reassess their core beliefs. If you want to know how to help people without absorbing their emotions, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 109: Is It Possible To Have Fun At Work? With Dr Kathryn Owler

Dr Kathryn Owler joins us in this episode to share her fascinating research on the characteristics and traits of people who enjoy their current jobs. We dissect the common themes these people have in finding success in their careers. And we also talk about changes we can implement as individuals to make work more fun and enjoyable. If you want to start adopting the mindset people who have fun at work have, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 108: What We Wish We’d Learnt at Med School with Dr Ed Pooley & Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Ed Pooley and Dr Hussain Gandhi join us in the latest episode of You are Not a Frog. They discuss the management skills a doctor needs that you won't learn in med school, plus tips to help fresh doctors feel empowered in their workplace. Whether or not you work in medicine, these skills are crucial when it comes to working effectively and managing your own and others’ time. Tune in and listen to the experts talk about the management skills med school doesn't teach you and how to learn and develop them today.

Episode 107: Define Your Own Success In Life With Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to talk about the importance of honesty and clarity in defining our own success. We may think that achieving certain goals will make us happy, but evidence shows us it’s the other way around. It’s only when we’re happy that we can be successful. We also discuss how to overcome common barriers to our happiness and success such as fear, guilt, and uncertainty. If you want to know how to live a happier and more successful life, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 105: The Simplest Way to Beat Stress and Work Happier with Dr Giles P. Croft

In this episode, Dr Giles P. Croft joins us to discuss how our thoughts and emotions trigger stress signals. He shares his controversial approach to tackling stress, and why most of our efforts to cope better don’t really help at all. We also delve into the importance of pausing to allow yourself to calm down and letting go of the things you can’t control.

Episode 104: How to Cope With Nightmare Relatives and Colleagues Without Losing the Plot

In this special Christmas episode, Corrina Gordon-Barnes shows us how to create the groundwork for a peaceful and successful holiday season, even while navigating difficult relationships with relatives or colleagues. Corrina guides us to relax our expectation of a perfect holiday with our family, so we can face reality in ourselves and others. She explains a simple framework to allow you to resolve conflict, and walks us through what we can do during difficult gatherings and how to shift our responses to create different outcomes. Tune in to improve your strained relationships with relatives and co-workers through empathy and letting go of past assumptions.

Episode 103: How Not to Settle For The Way It’s Always Been Done

Dr Abdullah Albeyatti talks about improving your life and career by making changes and taking risks. He explains why settling for the familiar could be slowly ruining your life and how you can avoid this situation. Finally, he shares his top three tips to become a changemaker in your field. If you want to start doing things differently, creating change, and take more risks, then this episode is for you!

Episode 102: Why FAIL is Not a 4-Letter Word

Drs Claire Edwin, Sally Ross, and Taj Hassan join us to discuss how we can manage and deal with our failures more effectively. We explore the idea that rather than doing something wrong, failure is an opportunity to really grow and learn both as individuals, as leaders and as organisations. In any situation, it’s important to remember that we’re all human. It’s okay to be honest with ourselves and each other about our mistakes - after all, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. If you want to know how to change your mindset around failure, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 101: Making Helpful Habits Stick with Sheela Hobden

Sheela Hobden joins us to discuss how we can harness the power of checklists to create a routine. She shares how you can approach your goals in a more realistic way and learn to encourage yourself using specific goal setting techniques. Sheela also recommends creating identity-based goals to ensure that you keep building your new identity even after completing certain milestones. Start small, and eventually, you’ll see these good habits stick!

Episode 100: Dealing With the Guilt of Not Being Okay With Dr Nik Kendrew

Dr Nik Kendrew unravels why we experience overwhelming guilt when bad things happen to us. He also shares some tips, techniques, and resources on how to deal with guilt, especially in these difficult times and circumstances. Apart from this, Nik talks about the significance of scheduling our entire day to do important things. Finally, he discusses why setting boundaries is necessary to maintain our sense of self.

Episode 99: How to Deal with Criticism When You’ve Reached Your Limit with Dr Sarah Coope and Dr Rachel Morris

Dr Sarah Coope joins me to talk about the workload of medical professionals and the benefits of setting boundaries while dealing with criticisms amidst the global pandemic. We discuss the three elements of the Drama Triangle and ways to navigate or avoid them reliably. As we dive deeper into the conversation, we explore the art of saying 'No' through acknowledging our limits. Awareness and recognition can go a long way in maintaining our boundaries. If you want to take the first step in recognising your limits, handling criticism better and setting proper boundaries, tune in to this episode.

Episode 96 – How to Deal with Difficult Meetings with Jane Gunn

We hear from the expert in conflict management and mediation, Jane Gunn. She discusses important tips to keep in mind to host great meetings. She shares some practical conflict management tips and how to make decisions that you and your team agree on. Jane also emphasises the importance of putting the fun back in functional meetings and the need to give a voice to participants.

Episode 93 – How to Delegate, Do It, or Drop It with Anna Dearmon Kornick

Anna Dearmon Kornick joins us to share the time management strategies crucial for busy professionals. She lays down tips on how medical practitioners can have more control over their days. Anna talks about how to manage admin time and imparts ways to combat distractions. We also discuss the importance of delegation both inside and outside work. For this, Anna introduces the passion-proficiency lens and knowing your zone of genius.

Episode 92 – How to Avoid Becoming the Second Victim with Dr Caraline Wright & Dr Lizzie Sweeting

Dr Caraline Wright and Dr Lizzie Sweeting join us to discuss the second victim phenomenon. They explain why patient safety incidents are occupational hazards and how they can affect healthcare providers. Caraline then shares her personal experience of being in the “second victim” role. Finally, they share tips on how to avoid second victimhood and how to provide support to someone going through it.

Episode 91 – How to Break Up With Your Toxic Relationship With Your Career with Dr Pauline Morris

Dr Pauline Morris joins us to share her career counselling advice for physicians and other professionals in high stress jobs. We discuss the common pitfalls that lead doctors to unsustainable work habits. Pauline also sheds light on why staying in your comfort zone can be detrimental to your performance. To avert this, she shares tips on how to better recognise and advocate for your own needs. We also learn about the importance of self-care and taking time for yourself.

Episode 90 – What to do About Bitching and Backbiting with Dr Edward Pooley

Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to discuss what to do when colleagues make inappropriate comments about others. We talk about why it’s crucial to consider the question behind the question in workplace backbiting. Ed also teaches us how to challenge in a supportive way. Most importantly, we learn some strategies to prepare ourselves to speak up when the situation requires it.

Episode 89 – Should I stay or should I go? with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to share how to better relationships and take control and stay in your zone of power. She shares how to make a good decision by questioning thoughts and assumptions. We also discuss how you can change your perspective to become more compassionate, accepting, and empowered. If you want to know how to better relationships, stay in your zone of power, improve your decision-making skills, and be true to yourself, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 88 – How to Ditch the Saviour Complex and Feel More Alive with Rob Bell

Rob Bell joins us in this episode to discuss the perils of the saviour complex and the desire to keep hustling even when we’re miserable. We learn that taking time for rest and reflection only helps us get stronger. You can’t heal and help rebuild a broken system if you don’t look out for yourself first. Tune in to this episode to find out how to ditch the saviour complex, feel happier and live a more fulfilling life.

Episode 87 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 5: What Should I Do When I Think a Complaint is Unfair? And Other Questions with Drs Sarah Coope, George Wright, Samantha White, and Andrew Tressider

We’re joined by a panel of expert guests to share their thoughts on how to handle complaints. Together, we discuss ways that you can adjust your perspective and respond to unfavourable situations. Most importantly, we tackle issues regarding malicious complaints and how to cope with them. If you’re having trouble managing yourself during complaints, then this episode is for you.

Episode 86 – Gaslighting and Other Ways We’re Abused at Work: What’s Really Going On? with Dr James Costello

Dr James Costello joins us to talk about his new book and the insidious ways that organisations and individuals can undermine us. They compel us to do extra emotional labour for us to cope with the workplace dynamics. We also chat about what happens when authority and power are misused. Finally, James shares some of the disastrous consequences bullying in the workplace can have and what we can do about it. Tune in if you want to know what to do if you suspect that you or a colleague are experiencing relational abuse in the workplace!

Episode 85 – How to have crucial conversations with Dr Edward Pooley

Good communication between colleagues is crucial for the success of any organisation. Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to teach us how to communicate well. He discusses the three strands present in any conversation and helps us understand how we can be more aware of each. We also share some frameworks that can help you navigate difficult conversations. Understanding the importance of emotion is crucial in being an effective communicator and connecting with your team.

Episode 84 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 4: Creating a Workplace Where It’s OK to Fail

Professor Susan Fairley and Dr Jane Sturgess join us to discuss how to create a workplace that doesn’t shy away from failure. We talk about how civility can save lives and also touch on the issues around incident reporting in healthcare. Most importantly, we talk about creating a culture where people can have difficult conversations without defensiveness. If you want to know how to approach failing and speaking up in the workplace, tune in to this episode.

Episode 83 – The Ups and Downs of Being a Man-Frog with Dr Chris Hewitt

Joining us in this episode is Dr Chris Hewitt who also uses the metaphor of a man-frog in coaching professionals to have a better work-life balance. Chris talks about why we find it so hard to recognise burnout. He also shares his top tips and practical strategies to address work dissatisfaction. If you want to stop feeling like a man (or woman) - frog in a pan of slowly boiling water, listen to the full episode.

Episode 82 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series Episode 3: Surviving the Process

Drs Jessica Harland, Caroline Walker and Heidi Mousney join us in this episode to discuss healthcare professionals’ experiences when dealing with complaints. We talk about the different emotions you may experience and practical tips on getting through. If you want to know how to survive the process after making a mistake at work and receiving a complaint, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 81 – When Soft and Fluffy Met Coronavirus with Steve Andrews

Steve Andrews, Associate Director of Leadership for East and North Herts NHS Trust shares how, through using just five crucial questions, you can check in on people, rather than check up on them. The 5 questions will help you to find out how people really are, help them look out for their colleagues, empower them to solve their own problems AND communicate empathy and support. Want to know how you can apply compassionate leadership in your organisation? Then, this episode is for you.

Episode 80 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 2: What to Do When You Make a Mistake with Drs Clare Devlin and Dr John Powell

Drs Clare Devlin and John Powell join us to discuss the proper way of responding to professional mistakes. We talk about why doctors have a hard time whenever they make a mistake at work. Clare and John also share valuable advice on minimising negative consequences and getting a good outcome for you and your patient. If you want to learn a roadmap for what you should do you make a mistake at work, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 79 – How to Give Yourself Permission to Thrive with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us once again to talk about burnout and giving ourselves permission to thrive. Having experienced work burnout, Katya shares her story and discusses the red flags of burnout. We also talk about why we find it difficult to give ourselves permission to thrive and how we can overcome our own internal barriers. If you want to learn about how you can listen to your needs so that you can thrive in work and in life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 78 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series 1: Preparing to Fail Well with Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer

Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer join us in this first episode in a new series on ‘Complaints and How to Survive Them’ to talk about coaching doctors and dentists through complaints made against them. We also talk about the perfectionist mindset and how changing our perspective towards failure can help us and those around us. If you want to know how to deal better with complaints made against doctors and other professionals in high-stress jobs, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 77 – Denial, displacement and other ways we neglect ourselves with Dr Andrew Tresidder

Dr Andrew Tresidder joins us to talk about how many medical practitioners and other professionals in healthcare and high stress jobs neglect their health and well-being. We're so focused on taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves but our well-being is vital if we want to keep doing the work we do. Find out why healthcare professionals need to learn more about health, as opposed to only learning about disease and if you want to know how to focus on taking care of your health and well-being, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 76 – Tech Tips for Happy Hybrid Working with Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Hussain Gandhi, or Dr Gandalf of eGPlearning, joins us in this episode. He is a GP, PCN director and host of the eGP Learning Podblast that shares deep dives into health tech for primary care. He shares his tech and time hacks for hybrid working to survive and thrive in the new virtual environment. If you want to find out how to improve your hybrid working experience, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 74 – Managing your Time in a System Which Sucks with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to share his take on time management techniques for busy individuals. He discusses the three types of competing demands and how to manage them. We also talk about being more comfortable holding difficult conversations about workplace issues - vital to help change the environment we work in. Tune into this episode to discover how time management techniques and communication can help you get a calmer and more time-efficient workplace.

Episode 73 – How to Find Your Tribe: The PMGUK story with Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman

Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman join us on this episode to discuss the importance of a work community. We talk about the inspiring stories from the online community they created, the Physicians Mums Group UK (PMGUK). Nazia and Katherine also share their tips on how to increase connections and find your own tribe at work. If you want to know how to create a network of supportive colleagues and feel more connected, then tune into this episode.

Episode 72 – Working well – from anywhere! with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us to discuss how to work well from home by creating healthy boundaries. She shares how to be more productive by using the third space hack and taking breaks. Katya also talks about how to be more active and better connect with people in the workplace. If you want to learn about working well from home and achieving a better work-life balance, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 71 – Create a Career You’ll Love with Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to discuss how to find a career you love. As an executive coach specialising in career development, Claire is an expert in guiding people how to find a career they love. We talk about the value of job networking and diversifying in our career journeys. We also share our tips and experiences on how to find a career you love. We do this by helping you identify the roles that best suit you and how to go about getting these roles.

Episode 70 – How Safe Do You Feel at Work with Scott Chambers

Scott Chambers joins us to talk about why we need to make people feel comfortable and safe enough to speak up in their workplace. When we create psychological safety in our team, we improve overall happiness and boost performance! If you want to learn how to create psychological safety for a better and happier team - whether you’re the boss or not, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 69 – Make Time for What Matters with Liz O’Riordan

Liz O'Riordan joins us to share productivity life hacks. These have helped her transform how she approaches work. Now, Liz can spend quality time with her family and enjoy life. In this episode, she teaches us how we too can achieve this. If you want to learn some new life hacks, beat burnout and work happier, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 68 – The Revolutionary Art of Breathing with Richard Jamieson

Richard Jamieson discusses how we can utilise breathing techniques to feel calmer, make better decisions and be more productive. He explains the different steps we can take to change our breathing patterns. When you’re in a high-stress situation, remember this: just breathe. If you want to know how to use breathing techniques to beat stress in everyday situations, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 67 – Bringing Your Best Self to Work with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding discusses how to bring your whole self to work without leaving bits of you behind. Sarah shares her own story of experiencing burnout at her old job and rediscovering her true passion. We also discuss how applying our core strengths to our jobs can mean the difference between burnout and having a sense of fulfilment. Don’t miss out on this episode if you want to learn more about how to be yourself and how to bring joy back into your work!

Episode 65 – Passing the Naughty Monkey Back with Dr Amit Sharma

Dr Amit Sharma joins us to discuss the effects of taking on too many of other people’s ‘naughty monkeys’. We talk about why professionals in high-stress jobs so often take on the rescuer role and how to shift that mindset. Amit and I also discuss the importance of empowering patients to take control of their own health. If you want to know how to avoid being weighed down by too many naughty monkeys, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 64 – What to Do When You’re Out of Fuel with Dr Jess Harvey

Dr Jess Harvey, a GP partner and GB triathlete, talks about what happened to her after running out of fuel and feeling burnt out. She discusses how we often ignore the symptoms and signs for too long and why resting and refuelling is as important as what we're doing in the first place. If you’re feeling burnt out, tune in to this episode to find out how you can plug the holes in your energy bucket!

Episode 63 – How to Survive Even When Times are Tough with Dr Caroline Walker

This episode is part of the COVID-19 Supporting Doctors series, and joining us again is Dr Caroline Walker. She's here to discuss why rest is crucial, especially for people in high-stress jobs. Caroline also shares key strategies that can keep us going through the crisis. The previous year has been tough, so don’t miss this episode to start 2021 better prepared.

Episode 62 – Self-Coaching for Success with Dr Karen Castille, OBE

Dr Karen Castille joins me in this episode to discuss her book on self-coaching. She shares powerful questions to ask yourself which will jumpstart your self-coaching journey. She also talks about the importance of developing this vital skill and crafting powerful life questions. Before we close the show, Karen gives her top tips for self-coaching. Don’t miss this episode if you want to learn how you can find clarity and achieve success through self-coaching!

Episode 61 – The Self Help Book Group on Happiness with Dr Nik Kendrew

In this episode, You Are Not A Frog regular Dr Nik Kendrew joins me to discuss the concept of happiness. We tackle the everlasting question of ‘What is happiness’? We also talk about perfectionism and fear and how these can hinder us from doing the things we want to do. At the end of the show, Nik and I give our top tips to being happier. If you want to know more about living a happy life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 60 – Creating a Workplace that Works with Dr Sonali Kinra

Dr Sonali Kinra joins us to discuss why people leave their jobs and how to prevent it. We talk about the importance of workplace culture and its role in creating an environment that makes people want to stay. We also discuss why you need to seek opportunities that broaden and develop your career. Don’t miss this episode if you want to find out how to keep yourself in a job you love.

Episode 59 – A Social Dilemma? With Dr James Thambyrajah

In this episode, Dr James Thambyrajah joins us to talk about social media’s subtle yet profound effect on our daily lives. We discuss the perils of being unaware of how our online decisions are influenced. James also shares his insights on how we can improve how we stay informed and inform others. Tune in to this episode if you want to learn more about how to go beyond your digital echo chamber.

Episode 55 – The One About Alcohol

Dr Giles P Croft is back to chat with Rachel about his experiences following a revolutionary read he was recommended. You might remember Giles from episode 46, where he talked about how as humans, we naturally default to happiness.

Episode 52 – A year of the frog

The week’s episode is a special one as the Frog celebrates a year of podcasting! It’s been quite a year - including charting in Apple’s Top 100 Business Podcasts in the UK!

Episode 50 – Freeing yourself from the money trap

Joining Rachel in this week’s episode is Dr Tommy Perkins, as well as being a GP Partner, and father, Tommy is one half of Medics Money. Medics Money is an organisation specifically aimed at helping doctors make better decisions with their finances. It’s run by Tommy and Dr Ed Cantelo who is not only a doctor but a qualified accountant.

Episode 49 – The Self Help Book Group No 2 with Nik Kendrew

This week Rachel is joined by You Are Not A Frog regular, Nik Kendrew. Last time Nik joined us, we discussed a book that has helped him in his professional life as a GP, trainer and partner as well as his personal life. Nik’s back this week to talk about another brilliant book and to share what insights and learnings he’s gained from it.

Episode 47 – How to Have a Courageous Conversation

Rachel talks with Beccie D'Cunha about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations - because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Episode 46 – Default to happy

Rachel talks with Dr Giles P Croft about his take on how to beat stress and burnout. Giles  is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice for a decade to explore a number of career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife.

Episode 45 – Rest. The final frontier

Rachel is joined by Sheela Hobden, Professional Certified Coach, wellbeing expert and fellow Shapes Toolkit facilitator. We talk about why rest isn’t just important for wellbeing, but important for productivity and creativity too. 

Episode 40 – Leading with tough love with Gary Hughes

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Gary Hughes, author of the book Leadership in Practice, blogger, educator and facilitator who is a Practice Manager by day. We chat about how leadership in the COVID-19 crisis has had to adapt, and the different roles that a leader has had to take.

Episode 37 – How to manage conflict during COVID with Jane Gunn

Rachel is thrilled to welcome back Jane Gunn – lawyer, mediator and expert in conflict resolution who has been known as the Corporate Peacemaker. This episode is for you if the thought of addressing a difficult issue with one of your colleagues send you running for the hills…

Episode 20 – A creative solution to stress with Ruth Cocksedge

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Ruth Cocksedge a Practitioner Psychologist who started her career as a mental health nurse. She practices in Cambridge and has a particular interest in EMDR for PTSD and creative writing as a way to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Episode 11 – The magical art of reading sweary books

In this episode, Rachel is joined once again by Dr Liz O’Riordan, the ‘Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer’, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, triathlete and all round superstar who has been nominated for ‘Woman of the Year’.

Previous Podcasts