Unscripted | Episode 8

Finding Your “Why” with Andrea Johnson

In this episode of Unscripted, host Bryce Curry engages in a meaningful conversation with Andrea Johnson about the significance of remembering your purpose as a physician. Andrea, a seasoned professional with 25 years in medical administration, delves into the importance of discovering and understanding your “why.” She shares her extensive background, from working at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center to becoming a Maxwell-trained and certified DISC consultant, speaker, trainer, and coach.

Andrea discusses the challenges faced by residents and fellows, emphasizing the need for a solid foundation of core values to navigate the demanding medical field. She highlights the importance of communication, using the DISC model to understand and improve interactions with colleagues, patients, and support staff. Andrea also introduces the concept of Intentional Optimism, a personal growth lifestyle that helps individuals live out their goals with excellence.

This episode is packed with practical tips for maintaining your purpose and core values, whether through journaling, setting reminders, or seeking accountability. Andrea’s insights are invaluable for anyone in the medical profession looking to sustain their passion and avoid burnout.

Published on
July 08, 2024

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Episode 4: Rediscovering Your Purpose with Andrea Johnson

Unscripted talks with physicians about common struggles that residents and fellows face

Bryce Curry: Welcome to unscripted. I’m your host, Bryce Curry, and in this series, we have candid, one on one conversations with physicians and other medical professionals about common struggles that residents and fellows face in today’s world. On today’s show, we’ll be sitting down with andrea Johnson to talk about remembering your purpose as a physician. We unpack your why. How do you discover your why?

Unscripted is a chance for us to talk with medical professionals

Hello, everybody, and welcome to, this episode of unscripted. This is a chance for us to, talk with, different medical professionals and also, professionals that work in the medical space supporting, doctors and nurses. And, on today’s episode, I’m really excited to have, Andrea Johnson join, us today. Andrea, welcome.

Andrea Johnson: Thank you, Bryce. I am happy to be here, and.

Bryce Curry: I am really excited to have you on. I have had a couple conversations with andrea, and I’ve always gone away from those conversations feeling encouraged and energized. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that, but I am now on the. On this episode. Episode. and so we’re going to talk a little bit about that, as we progress.

Your why is helping other people figure out their why

But first of all, I’d like you to just, spend a moment and talk a little bit about yourself and kind, of your why.

Andrea Johnson: Oh, well, my why is helping other people figure out their why, I guess, if you’d say it that way. I am a 25 year veteran of schools of medicine, and, I’ve survived it on the administrative side, and I did. I started out in the Johns Hopkins oncology center doing administrative work, worked my way up into research administration. So I have worked with brain cancer and lung cancer and head and neck cancer. one of the first physicians I worked with helped develop the HPv vaccine and helped develop, a whole way of looking at Barrett’s esophageal to figure out that that is a precursor to esophageal cancer. So I learned a lot scientifically, but I also learned a lot about people. And as I moved up in my career and got more and more experience and more and more responsibility, I realized there’s a whole lot more to what I wanted to do than to just be in, an organization where I kind of helped keep the status quo and make sure the trains run on time. Right, to make sure that all the research happens and make sure all the budgets are done well and make sure everybody’s managed appropriately. And I just really have a heart for helping people grow, helping people figure out how to be better leaders. And, you know, when I left the medical field, it didn’t occur to me that I would go back into that. But then one of my first big contracts was with a veterinary hospital, which is so similar to human medicine. I was very surprised. So many of the same types of people. And I just have a real heart for helping people understand why they do what they do. And it’s a really. It’s kind of a thankless job right now. and so I want to make sure that people have the stamina that they need. And I. I love that you said, thank you very much. It’s quite a compliment for you to say that you felt energized when you left me. that is a goal of mine, is to help encourage and energize other people. So I do that through. I’m a Maxwell trained, and certified disc consultant, speaker, trainer and coach. So I do work inside teams, I do behavioral and, communications work, teamwork, leadership training. But I also work with individuals and I go a little bit deeper than understanding how we communicate more specifically on their core values and helping them understand how do I show up in the world in a way that is authentic to me and that I can live out in a sustainable way in a field like medical profession that can be very demanding and very difficult.

Thank you for, uh, sharing your background and insight. And it’s one of the reasons

Bryce Curry: Thank you for, sharing your background and insight. And it’s one of the reasons, among many, that we wanted to, have you on was to talk about some of the specifics that you mentioned. And I’m going to share just a really quick story. it’s kind of personal to me. And then hopefully it’ll launch us into, some of the stuff that we’re going to unpack here on this episode. for our audience. our audience is made up of, residents. Ah, and fellows. we do have some medical students, but individuals that are taking on some really hard things from an educational standpoint. And, about nine years ago, our little, our youngest son, we were found ourselves in the ICU and obviously very, very overwhelmed. Not really sure what was going on. It was a scary situation. He was faced with some stuff that, you know, obviously puts you in the ICU. It’s


Bryce Curry: pretty serious. And I remember, the doctor at the time, he sat us down and he said, this is going to be a very, it’s going to be a situation with a lot of uncertainty. And we’re not going to have all the answers right away. But I want you to know that my. I am dedicated in doing my best that I medically can, to work this problem work, this situation. And I’m not sure where that’s going to take us, but I want you to know that I feel like I’m here for a purpose, and I’m in this ICU, for a purpose. And that has stuck with me ever since. And we made it out, and our little guy is great and healthy today, and we’re thankful for that because that’s not always the situation, especially in an ICU, unit. but I remember that he looked us directly in the eye and had that conversation in that overwhelming moment, and it provided a sense of peace. And I wanted to share that story because at that moment, that doctor connected with us at a human level. And it just was a really interesting time for us. and so I wanted to build off of that story into what the work that you do.

Bryce says it’s very important to know your why in medicine

And I feel like people enter the medical profession for a certain reason, and oftentimes it’s to help others. Right.

Andrea Johnson: Right.

Bryce Curry: Let’s dig in a little bit more into, from your experience and your conversations, the why. Like, what have you found? why is that? I was gonna say, why is that so important to know your why?

Andrea Johnson: Well, because otherwise you’re living for somebody else. There are plenty of people, Bryce, that are going to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. Right. There’s plenty of them, especially as a resident or a fellow. And I’ve worked with more fellows than I have residents. but this is not an easy place to be. They know it’s a hard time. They know it’s going to be a lot of work. They know they have much to learn. They know that they’re going to get bossed around. They know that they’re going to get tested. So if they don’t have a really good foundation of why they’re doing what they’re doing, then it’s, you know, if you can’t build a house on sand, you can’t build. If you have a tree that doesn’t have good taproots, it’s going to fall over in the wind. So it’s the same for us as humans. When we. And I love that you pointed out that this physician sat down with you and talked to you like, this is my human side. Right. And saw your human side. That was a very vulnerable story. And it, you know, a lot of times we don’t encounter that. We probably hear there’s probably more of that out there than we realize. But we hear the stories of people not being that way because they’re overworked. Their lack of sleep, especially residents, especially, they don’t have what they need as far as, nutrition is concerned. They’re grabbing something from the vending machine or, you know, as much as. And I’ve seen some decent meals at hospital cafeterias, but they’re not always great, and it’s not always, and, you know, it has to be fast. They have five minutes to grab something. So they’ve allowed themselves to be in this situation where they know they’re going to be depleted in a lot of areas in order to become even better. But if you don’t know what your principles and non negotiables are, if you don’t have a good foundation, then you’re going to get blown over. You’re going to be the one that burns out. You’re going to be the one that emerges from that saying, how did I get here? And it may be that you might anyway, but it’s very important for any of us, but especially people who are in really high, intense, stressful jobs, to know why we’re doing what we’re doing. I worked with one guy who was a fellow with our oncology team, and then he came on as an attending, and so I got to help. I loved. I loved taking the fellows and turning them into attendings because I got to train them the way I wanted to. As an administrator, it was important to make sure that we had really good communication. And one of the things that he ended up doing was he had a hard time with. I think I may have shared this with you one time we spoke, but he had a hard time with all the red tape in a university medical situation or system. And so he had a big sign above his and above his desk that said, remember why you’re here. It’s the patients, and you don’t know why anybody gets into a specific field. But it’s not just the physicians that are there for that reason, too. It’s also the administrators and the staff and the nurses, anybody in these fields. I have a dear friend who has dedicated much of her life to working in clinical settings as an administrator because of her mother’s own cancer journey. And so when we all are there for the betterment of, you know, making sure that we do the very best we can and making sure that other people, are able to survive and to thrive, then it makes some of the hard things that we deal with just a little more


Andrea Johnson: palatable. They may not be easy, but they might be a little more palatable. And in a. In an intense crucible, like residency or fellowship. I think it’s very important to remember that.

Bryce Curry: Yeah, I think that’s such a great point.

There’s kind of three key factors that go into, um. Knowing yourself, understanding how to communicate

And one of the things that you’ve shared with me, is there’s kind of a process to this. Right. There’s. There’s kind of three key factors that go into, I can’t remember if you said discovering your why or that kind of helps support your why. And I’d like to just talk about those three, those kind of three areas, you know, like, the first one, I think you mentioned to me once was knowing yourself.

Andrea Johnson: Right.

Bryce Curry: And I’d like to just kind of go through those if we could.

Andrea Johnson: Yeah. And this is kind of how I work with people. a lot of times I’ll start with how we communicate because it’s outside of ourselves. It’s, It’s something that is very easy to see. It’s patterns that we recognize, but then we work, then we back up just a little bit because most people aren’t, they don’t come to me, and they’re not necessarily ready to just go deep. They want to start someplace that’s a little bit more simple. So a lot of times we’ll start with communication. But the three main keys are knowing who you are, which is your core values. These are your principles, your priorities. They’re your foundational convictions that allow you to navigate whatever you’re going through with grace and with the ability of keeping your own authenticity and your own authority at the forefront. And so once we understand those, and I will tell you, Bryce, 100% of my clients have come to me, have thought they knew their core values, and 100% of them have discovered they did not. So that tells you where we are as humans, especially in the United States, to be able to say, wow, I have conformed. I have compromised myself in ways to get ahead or in ways to be accepted. So I help knowing yourself. I help you figure out how to know yourself. The next piece is understanding how to communicate that I am a disc consultant. Disc is a lovely, simple behavioral analysis assessment tool that helps us recognize patterns in the way we communicate. We have people who are very bottom line people who are very storytellery, people who are your studies and are very teamwork oriented. And then you have others who are, like, super duper detailed. So when you know who you are and how you communicate, all of a sudden you can start to recognize in other people how they communicate. And you can then start communicating what you need, which is your boundaries or your core values with them in ways that they might understand. Once we have those pieces in place, then we do what I call live it out with grace and excellence. And this is where intentional optimism comes from. It’s the name of my business, the intentional optimist. And it is six tenants that are basically a personal growth lifestyle that allows us to live out those core values and our goals and our purpose, if you will, with excellence. So it includes six different tenets that kind of really encapsulate what. How I want to live. And it turns out it’s very helpful for other people. Once you know that, then you’ve got this cycle, then you can continue to evaluate yourself and say, well, where am I? Am I staying true to my core values? Am I being authentically me? Because when you do that, you can move with authority, and you can act on your own convictions, and you can move with confidence. How am I communicating with others? And then how am I living that out? And it just is this lovely cycle that we can just keep repeating. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. I think that’s, that’s what I help people go through.

Bryce Curry: Yeah.

Putting goals on paper helps us stay accountable, right? Absolutely. You know, when we set a goal, we might have

And do you recommend, so if we kind of think about the, resident or, you know, the fellow, do you recommend, like, journaling this out, putting it, you know, on a wall so you see it every day? What are some. Maybe, I’ll say kind of daily or practical tips to, take your.

Andrea Johnson: Why?

Bryce Curry: You know, take. Take the things that are out of your head and put it, you know, I. I like to take. And put it on paper. It’s just a transfer kind of thing that happens there, and I feel like, okay, I can, you know, revisit that. Like, so is there some practical kind of stuff that we can, share with the audience to. To kind of, you know, unpack what you’re. We’re talking about here?

Andrea Johnson: Absolutely. You know, when we set a goal, we might have a three to 5% chance of reaching it. When we tell someone else about it, it increases that to about 40%. When we ask someone else to help hold us accountable, it increases it to almost 90%. And then when we, And then when we start telling people about it on a regular basis and are reminded about it, it increases it way up to close to 100%. It’s a goal. And even if it’s a goal of I’m going to live this way or I’m going to act this way. When we take it outside, like you said, take it outside of ourselves, because we can have self talk, there’s a lot of really good information, on that. but a lot of times, saying it out loud, putting things out, naming them, makes all the difference. I’m one of those people that I’m an internal processor, and I think about things, but I’m an external refiner,


Andrea Johnson: so I might have an internal thought and think, oh, man, it’s really good. And then I’ll say it out loud to someone and realize, that’s not done. I need to actually do this some more. Or, you know, like, right now. before we started, I said, I’m logging my food, right? So this is a thing that I want to stay accountable to. So I’ve told my husband, I’ve told my sister, I’ve told my best friend. Those kinds of things help us stay the course, basically. And if I do have a friend who. Or a client who has. She’s a sticky note person. And, if you look at her, like, if you’re looking at me on the screen, you won’t see them, but if you turn around and look at her computer, they’re everywhere. And then there was my doctor friend who put a sign above his. His computer screen where he could see it on the wall. I have another coach friend who does a vision board, and she literally puts it on the ceiling. Because when she starts thinking about things, she automatically looks up, right? That’s just her natural way that she functions. Like, she looks up, and then she realizes, oh, that’s right, this is where I’m headed. And so, part of that is just kind of looking at yourself and saying, how do I function better? I learned from another client to put my goals on my phone. So if it’s something. If you’re a resident and you can’t, man, you may not have a desk, you may have a bed that you’re lucky to sleep in at home and a lucky to sleep in at the, at the hospital. But you might have your phone. And so I just created a little graphic that I put on my phone that says, this is my goals for this month, and these are the things that I’m going to focus on for this month. There are, and you could just google a million ways to be practical about how you keep these things in front of you, but when you do that, you are more likely to achieve them.

Bryce Curry: Yeah, I have this, I fully connect. Even though I’m not in medicine, I’m in business, and there’s a lot of applications in what we’re talking about. And, in my office throughout my career, I’ve had this saying, it’s not my personal saying, but it says better than yesterday that above my door as I walk out. And I think about that when I go out to my employees or whatever situation we might be going into, a strategic session or executive session, that, you know, it’s going to be tough. And I always challenge myself that way. So I totally align with what you’re saying. I think it’s important for, especially, you know, folks that are in residency and fellowship and on the go and have a lot being pulled, a lot of different directions to have. I love the phone idea. I think that’s great. Something that, you know, in this day and age that we have, to utilize. It’s a great way to use it, in a positive way, to continually remind yourself. And I’ve seen people where they put kind of calendar updates that automatically pop up. You know, there’s different alarms.

Bryce Curry: Yeah, use alarms. So there’s some, some practical ways that you might not necessarily have to download an app and build it all out.

Andrea Johnson: Oh, no, it doesn’t matter what kind of phone you have. It has the capability of reminding you on a regular basis what you need to know. Even if you just write it down on a piece of paper, take a picture and use that as your wallpaper. I mean, it doesn’t have to be fancy, it could just be something super simple. But I have set alarms before to like to stand or to remind myself that I’m worth it, or to remind my son to turn in his spanish homework as soon as he gets, as soon as he gets off the bus. So we’ve just, we have as a family even. And in my business, I’ve figured out ways to kind of hack the system. Because when I look at being a resident or being a fellow, you really need some of these practical tools to do that. And, you know, figuring out what they are for you because you got to figure out what works for you because, you know, you don’t need something on the ceiling, you might need something right there in your pocket.

Bryce Curry: Absolutely.

Should all this be intertwined with your profession and your personal life

And you have a ton of experience, as you mentioned, when we started, in working with, residents and fellows, in the administrative role, can you maybe share a couple, you know, high level stories of, you know, where you’ve seen, you know, that, what we’re talking about defining your, why, looking at, you know, your core values and those three kind of components where it’s, it’s helped, you know, that transition from residency maybe into practicing or, you know, as you know better than me, these individuals are faced with a lot of decisions, a lot of key, things, that they have to decide, from their education and career standpoint, but then also, like, some practical life stuff as well. And so I guess where I’m going with that is my question to you is should. Should all this be intertwined with your profession and your personal? Or do you recommend to clients or your folks that you work with to separate that? Like, do you have one that’s for your professional career, and then one that’s kind of for family and. And yourself, or do you feel that that just kind of goes together?

Andrea Johnson: I am of the mindset, and I believe that there is no separating. It’s just you are who you are, and if you are not, I mean, you may show up differently, but I think that your why or your core values are the same no matter where you are. I think they are the same that that you


Andrea Johnson: had when you were two, and they are the same that you have now. I think that we understand them and we’re more aware of them, and the more aware we become of them, the better we honor them, which is why I advocate for the work that I do. But I think it’s really important to remember that how you show up in your medical field is going to be, it’s going to look a little bit different than how you show up at home, but who you are is the same person. I would. I. At one point, you know, at any given moment, I. In my career, I managed up to 20 people, including clinical trial nurses and lab techs and, residents. Not residents, but fellows and, managers, and research administrators and administrative assistants. And I would. I was very much a manager role. It was still important for me to have my core values in place, which I can share those in a minute, if you’d like. But, it was very important for me, well, to remember at the time, it was, and I have since cultivated this a little better, but at the time, it was kind of freedom for me. I needed to be able to be an out of the box thinker. I needed to be authentic. I was going to be the same at home as I was. If you got one thing from me here, you’re going to get the same piece of advice from me at the office. But I would show up in a way there that was much more powerful, much more, leader oriented, as my husband would say, bossy. but then I would come home, and every once in a while, he’d say, okay, you’re not the manager here. I’m like, oh, that’s right. And so I would change my energy a little bit, but it still, it never changed my desire to have the ability to think for myself. It never changed my non negotiable of being authentic and belonging where I am. And I think that when we understand that, then we move through the world almost in this little bubble of who we are, and we then get to choose how we show up, we choose to, how big our boundaries are in certain areas. We choose how we communicate in certain instances. And all that awareness gives us the ability to have a little bit more self generated energy, right? Have that ability to sustain, whatever it is that we’re doing. And when the people around us know us and love us, especially when we come home now, if you don’t have someone at home waiting for you, then you need a, you need some friends, you need a bubble around you of, ah, people who know you and understand your core values and what’s non negotiable for you, because if you don’t, then nobody is going to help you protect that, right? When you’re depleted, then you’re, you know, Star Trek, like, the shields are down, right. And, the dating myself a little bit, but nobody’s going to help you buffer and help you create that space for yourself. And being able to do that is important. And I think as long as we see that it’s the same. The same why, right. And a why is a little bit more specific to a medical field than being able to say, my, core values are these, But when we can have those same core values, knowing that either at work or at home, then I’m going to be able to show up in a way that doesn’t deplete me.

Bryce Curry: M it’s so important. and I can connect, from multiple, kind of things, whether it’s business, or like, even, like. So I think about with marathon training, or when you go run like a long distance race, they’ll have pacers and you’ll hold the sign, and one of the core values of influence, our network. And why, kind of part of our, why is we want our network to be, a collection of a collective of voices that encourage and are in some ways a pace setter for individuals that are working their way through their medical, educational journey.

Andrea Johnson: I like that.

Bryce Curry: And that’s what it comes down to. And that’s why what you’re talking about fits so well. because we’ve all been in those situations, and I’ve talked and you’ve worked with individuals, that are in their residency or in their fellowship, and they have spent a large portion of their life, dedicated towards the m, what I’ll call the clinical side or the practice of medicine. Quite frankly, attending. It doesn’t get any easier, right? I mean, these are.

Andrea Johnson: No, it really does, because then you’re, then you’re responsible, right. It’s, My father is currently a cardiac patient. He’s not inpatient, but he’s got some interesting things going on with his heart, and he doesn’t always understand everything, but one of the things he really didn’t understand was when he went to have an ablation done and. Or something else done to his heart, and the doctor was supposed to do it, but the fellow did it, and the doctor signed off on it and he did not understand. Like, what do you mean you didn’t do the work? Right. So all of a sudden, you are now responsible for the work that all these other people do. The attending walks in and says, yes, you evaluated this correctly, you did this well, and I’m going to sign off on it. And he’s, he or she is responsible then for the work that the residents


Andrea Johnson: and the fellows actually do. So it is a whole different side of, or a whole new, new level of pressure, and complexity, because if you’re, if you’re in a private practice or you’re in a private hospital, if it’s not a research facility, then you’re not expected to write. But if you were in a university setting, you are expected to publish, you are expected to actually do some research and to move forward in that area, unless you’re a hospitalist. But most of the time that all of the fellows and residents that I worked with were moving and into it, being an attending, and I love, like I said, I loved moving them up from fellows to attending, but they all were very interested in specifically doing work that would either heal cancer or cure kidney disease or make sure, or, like I said, prevent cancer, even. And so the pressures that come with being and attending are completely different. You have a little more time on your hands, but yet you have more responsibility, you know, if we have responsibility without authority, which most attendings do have, but depending on the kind of situation you’re in, you might not have some authority. All of those things. You have to be able to have a good foundation to know who you are in order to show up in those areas and be able to guide and lead and, and sign off on and make sure that, like you, your experience was, your patients have that kind of experience every time.

Bryce Curry: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So we’ve talked about, our why and core values. Those feel like those are things that become who we are, very, very much integrated in who we are and character kind of building.

The next piece I wanted to talk about was, um, like the communication

the next piece I wanted to talk about was, like the communication, understand how we communicate. And you mentioned discharge moment ago. I’d like to unpack that just a little bit more because I think that’s, that’s a really important piece that I just love to hear you talk a little bit.

Andrea Johnson: Yeah, this is, I love telling. I start with, I grew up in Korea. My parents were missionaries. So I grew up hearing multiple languages at any given moment, at least Korean and English. And then I went to school with kids from 65 different countries. So at any given moment, I was hearing French or German or Arabic or Korean or Spanish walking down the hall. And so for me, hearing this difference of languages, at all times was a fairly normal thing. That’s just kind of what I grew up with. The interesting thing is we do that in our speech patterns, and disc is a wonderful, simple assessment that’s been around for a long time. Carl Jung and doctor Marsden were kind of working on these things at the same time back in the twenties, but they go all the way back to the greek philosophers talking about the humors and the four quadrants of who we are and how we show up. Young came up with the foundations for the. Myers Briggs and Marsden came up with the foundations for disc. And it is this continuum, or this quadrant system that we are on the xy axis. I tell this way to physicians because it’s like, ah, they get the whole, they understand how this works. It’s on this quadrant, the xy axis. The y axis is a continuum of being outgoing or being reserved. And the x axis goes from being people oriented to being task oriented. We all are a little bit of everything, you know, we’re not one or the other in any of these instances. But what disc? The way that the disc is wired to collect m information from you, it’s like a ten to 15 minutes test. You just take it online. It’s a computer assessment. It kind of plots out your answers in these quadrants to show you what your most dominant way of communicating is. And when, when you do that, you start to see. We all communicate in specific types of patterns. And when we understand the patterns that we use, we can start recognizing them in someone else. If you’re not familiar with disc or you haven’t heard of it? It is. That’s an acronym. And going around the quadrant up in the top left side, it starts with the d, which is the driver or the dominant, depending on how you want to look at it. These are your bottom line people, about 3% of the population. You need some ds on your team. You need. Honestly, I need a surgeon to be a d. I need them to be super confident, results oriented, make sure it gets done. If you don’t have any ds on your project, you’re going to have a hard time getting it completed because they’re going to move it. There’s a reason they’re called the driver, but they’re also only 3% of the population, because a lot of times the rest of us find them a little hard to take. the next one around is the eye. These are your influencers, and youre a inspirational people. These are the storytellers, about 11% of the population. They’re gregarious, they’re funny. I happen to be a very high I going continuing around, the circle or the quadrants is the s, which is our studies.


Andrea Johnson: These are your team players. These are about 69% of the population. They are the ones who make sure the trains run on time. They make sure that all the rules are followed. They make sure that everybody pulls their weight, and they’re the ones who are going to maintain, like in a university system, they’re going to maintain the status quo on my team at any given moment. I promise you. I had very few of anything but ss. And then the last one is C’s, because you need people who are going to make sure that everything happens per regulations. I learned all the NIH regulations for grants and contracts. It was just, I don’t need that anymore as an I, I’m much more involved in the storytelling. But this, the C’s, the final one is these are your clients or your creatives. They are, super detail oriented. They make sure that all of the answers are accurate. They’re your accountants, they’re your musicians. And without them, you wouldn’t have good research data. Without these could be your big data people, right? It’s like, they work with the big data, and then the physicians or the dE’s will take that big data and have a vision and do something with it. So when you understand how you are wired to how your patterns work, then you can start recognizing them in other people. And when you recognize even a patient, when you walk in and you’ve got a patient spouse that says, what’s the bottom line, doc? Right? Then he’s like, oh, okay, this is someone with a potentially high d. Like, give me the hard news right now, but if you’ve got somebody who says, well, what do you think? Is this a big deal? What’s going on? surely there’s a better way. This can’t be that bad. They’re probably an I, right? They probably don’t they. If it’s for me, my husband says, I have bad news and good news, and he knows I want the bad news first because we can always end on the good news.

Bryce says learning Korean can help you communicate with patients and family members

I have to end on a top note, right? So these are the people who want to know. They’re the ones who say, well, what is the prognosis? How long can I live? You know, those kinds of things. Your s’s are the ones that are just. That are like, this is how it is. This is how it’s going to be. Tell me what I need to do. I’ll be on board. They’re probably going to be the most likely to continue in their treatment the way they’re supposed to because they’re rule followers. and then your c’s when you walk in and either a spouse or a partner or a family member or the patient starts asking you question after question after question after question. This is a c. They want to get it right. They want all the information so you can take these patterns and look at your patients, your colleagues, your superiors, your staff, your family, your kids, even, and it will help you figure out how to communicate in their language. I walk into a little korean store and start speaking English. Well, I did when I didn’t know any Korean. But then as I learned Korean, I would speak in their language, and it made all the difference in the world because, you know, Bryce, we all want to be seen, heard, and understood.

Bryce Curry: Yeah.

Andrea Johnson: And that gives you the advantage of being able to do that.

Bryce Curry: So good. And, I’ve seen stats, and there’s probably various studies, or not studies, but stats on this, but I. For every doctor, there’s, you know, probably, this number, I’ve seen anywhere from 20 to 30 individuals that are supporting that. That doctor.

Andrea Johnson: Right.

Bryce Curry: let’s just say that that’s plus or minus, you know, pretty. Pretty close.

The disc model helps you understand how to communicate in stressful situations

and I think the disc model is so important, especially for our audience, to evaluate, put into practice, and start thinking about. Because you’re going to have a support staff, like you mentioned. And you’re going to be in intense situations, with patient care where it also applies and it helps you understand that. I guess I would say bedside manner. Would you agree with that? Or just kind of the way you communicate? You know, in what might be a stressful situation.

You have a free disk that pulls a few pieces from the Maxwell report

So, ah, do you, do you recommend, like how do you learn the disc kind of model? I mean, you laid it out and how does one kind of, put it into practice or think about it? Do you have any recommendations there? Like some tips on, how to kind of self evaluate yourself on that?

Andrea Johnson: Sure. I have a free disk cheat sheet that pulls a few pieces from the Maxwell report that I’ll tell you about in just a second. But it gives you the opportunity to have a little crosswalk. When I was at Johns Hopkins, we switched budgeting systems and so we had to learned, like the crosswalk of this number means that number and this number means that number. And so when. And we. I think we do that a lot in the medical system because there’s constantly updates. So I have a crosswalk for you. If you want it to be able to say if this person is distributing or displaying these kinds of behaviors, they might be a D, and then I can talk to them this way, or these behaviors might be an I or s or a c on down the line. so that’s an easy way to start. And it’s free and it’s accessible. It’s a PDF. But it also gives you, if you happen to have children or if you’re working with children, it gives you some basics on understanding what it might look like to show up for a child, what a D might look like, or an I or an s or a c. And so that’s the first place to start. It’s free, it’s a PDF. It’s easy. You can also kind of Google it. But I also have access to


Andrea Johnson: the proprietary information from the Maxwell Disc report. It’s a 30 page report. It doesn’t just give you your type, it tells you what it looks like, how you can work with it, what, your shadow side might be, what your blind spots might be. And then it gives you the specific thing that people keys who does disc has worked out with the Maxwell team. It’s an evaluation of these leadership skills. We call it the power disk. And it’s seven characteristics that leaders need. And it includes, if I try to recite them, I’ll forget them. But it includes relatability, it includes detailing and producing and processing. It includes all of those. And when you can see where you’ve scored you can either choose depending on what you need to work to develop that skillset a little bit more, or you can recognize where you’re really good, capitalize on your strengths and augment or mitigate a few of those things where you areas where you may not be really strong. It’s a really good awareness tool, but the last ten pages of it is a personal growth plan so you can actually take the information and map it all out for yourself. And if you can’t do it by yourself, I offer coaching services that will help you figure it out. The point is to take the information you just like when you learn in medical school and when you learn in your residency, it’s not enough to just have the information, you have to do something with it and you have to be able to apply that information. If you know certain things about the kidney and how it functions, but you can’t actually take that into a situation and ask questions of a patient or evaluate a patient and know that this particular aspect of the kidney is not working because of these things, then your knowledge is no good. So it’s the same thing. We have to be willing to say, I’m going to take this knowledge and I’m going to turn around and I’m going to learn to apply it in my life, at home, at work, wherever.

Bryce Curry: And at the close of this episode, I’ll have you kind of share your website and where folks can go. because I know I’m going to do, that for myself.

Is the disc assessment something that you recommend to your clients annually or quarterly

And one quick add on question to that is, is that something that you recommend to your clients to do annually or is it a kind of case by case situation or is it quarterly, the disc assessment?

Andrea Johnson: No, that’s unless you’re, I mean, and granted, people in residency and m fellowship and moving into attending might be changing a little bit because one of the things that it does is it gives you three graphs and it tells you, I like to associate it with muscles, it tells you kind of the muscles that you’re born with. This is how you’re like when you’re stressed, this is what’s coming out. It also tells you the muscles that you’re using to show up. Today, I just, two days in a row, accidentally did upper body workouts that were all about my shoulders. And so my shoulders are a little sore, but those are the muscles I show up with when I have to lift a things. When I do my yard work, I love working in my yard and moving plants around, but those are the ones that I show up with there. But then the muscles that I’ve worked the hardest on are things like my core. so the third chart shows you the muscles that you’ve developed the most. And so when you actually have that information, you can see, well, maybe I do need to work on these muscles a little bit more. So you would take the disc again to see if you have. Most of the time, unless you’re taking it in a specific kind of environment, because it is environmental, environment specific. So if you take it as a resident or a fellow, and then you want to take it at home with your family or your spouse, we recommend that you take it again and think only at home, because you’re going to, like I said, your core values are the same, but you might show up a little bit differently at home than you would at work. And, so that’s the only time I would recommend taking it more than once is if you’ve. Well, those two times. One, if you’re going to change from an extreme change in environment, and two, if you’ve had really grown a lot and developed a lot in your career, then you might want to take it again to see if you’re showing up a little differently.

Bryce Curry: Okay, great.

How can you be intentional with optimism? How do you define intentional optimism

To kind of close out our time together, I’d like to talk about something that I know I feel is more seasonal for me, but, That’s an intentional optimism. Let’s talk about that. I think that the world needs to hear more about that. I know our audience is specifically in the medical field, but how can you be intentional with optimism?

Andrea Johnson: Well, that’s my business as the intentional optimist, and I probably shared the story with you at one time or another in our conversations, that when I lost my mother, and that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t mind being in the medical profession. It started out as a job, and then my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. And because I was in the cancer center at Johns Hopkins, she was able to get some treatment, and I was able to understand things better. So that’s why I. That was a little bit of my. Why is I wanted to give back to the medical community. But we did lose her in 2017 to breast cancer. And


Andrea Johnson: I was 50 at the time, and I had an eight year old adopted son, and I realized that I could potentially, depending on how medicine works and how healthy I keep my body, I could have 50 more years. Right? I mean, it’s possible at least 40, maybe. And I knew that I wanted to live them a little differently. I wanted to make sure that I was showing up in a way that I could be really proud of. And I did a brain dump and looked at all the principles that I wanted to embody and the ways I wanted to live. Some things are very natural to me in intentional optimism and some things are not. But, they’re definitely things I want to work on. And I call them my attitudes and mindsets that I employ and embody to live out my goals with excellence. And so when I share them with people, I say, well, there’s six tenets and they are these. But what’s really important is to know that you don’t have to live all of them. Intentional optimism may not be for you, but intentionally choosing to live in a specific way and have that be flavored with the hope and confidence of optimism is how I choose to live. So I’m happy to walk through the tenets for you. Or we can, We can kind of dive into that just a little bit deeper. How do you want to approach that?

Bryce Curry: Yeah, we can. We can talk at a high level, and just kind of tell people, I think it’s good. You know, our audience is very generally speaking, just because in the medical field there’s processes and process oriented. But I think it’d be good to kind of just lay those out, at a high level. And then I think the call to action at the end of the episode is to be able to reach out to you and maybe dig into those a little further.

Andrea Johnson: Oh, absolutely.

The first one is optimism, which includes hope. The second one is present

So really quick, after I did a big brain dump and kind of categorized things, I realized I had six main categories that I kind of wanted to live out. And then I went to define them. And this is a very similar process that I use in my core values work with people as I help them define what their core values are. So these can come a little bit close to that. But for me, they are. They are bookended by the optimistic and intentional. So the first one is optimism, which includes hope. It’s not sunny optimism. It’s not. Everything’s fine. Everything’s fine. This is not, This is not putting your head in the sand. Right. This is understanding and seeing things, knowing that you have the information you need to make the next best step. It’s being proactive and moving forward with hope that things can get better because we actually have the ability to change the trajectory of where we’re going. The second one is present, and this is. This is thrown around a lot. Be present. You know, Bob Gough talks about be where your feet are and if you want somebody who’s really encouraging, you can go look up Bob golf, too. But I see present as a little bit deeper than that. It’s having a sense of wonder. You guys are in the medical profession. You see the intricacies of the human body. How are you not amazed at that on a daily basis? Celebrate that and look at it and say, this is amazing to me, and kind of have this insatiable curiosity. I like saying, I’m terminally curious, but it also encompasses being generous with your time. I mentioned my eight year old adoptive son, adopted son. He’s now 15, and he’s big on memes, and I am not. And him coming in and saying, mom, look at this. It is so easy to say, no, no, no. But when I am present, I say yes. And I allow him space in my, in my day, and I want to be generous with my, with my time. And as physicians, I think it can be. I’ve watched it a lot. It’s very easy to just say, I don’t have time for that. I don’t have time for that. But people are important. They’re always more important than ideas or things. And it’s extremely valuable to give people that space and that time, and, of course, being kind and open, being present.

You mentioned energetic. That’s my third tenet. I, um, want to be life focused

You mentioned energetic. That’s my third tenet. And so I try to show up in a way that is spunky, welcoming, and wise every time I do so, because I want people to have to be energized when they leave me not drained. I want. I, want to be life focused. I want to make sure that I am promoting them and tapping into their excitement as well as my own. But it also includes this attitude of industry. I mentioned I was in research for. I mean, I helped with clinical trials and research, bench to bench to bedside research. And you have to be willing to say, what if? What if, what if? And if you’re not willing to do that in a medical setting, you’re not going to find the answers. I know that we watched it for years, and I know it is not even remotely clear or, remotely close to being reality, but I just loved the idea of house and his ability to constantly ask what if? And looking at differently, the fourth tenet is courageous. you’re not in the medical field if you don’t have a little bit of courage and you don’t have a little bit of adventure. But this is where leadership comes in. You have to be willing to step out and be the leader. Sometimes it means doing the extra things, sometimes it means leading through service or showing people a vision that you might have for something that’s different. And this is how you build resiliency, is by trying and failing and trying and failing. If I had a dime for every grant that was put into the NIH that didn’t get funded, I’d be very rich. But every


time something didn’t get funded, we learned from the things that they would tell us back, and so then we would be able to resubmit and resubmit and then get. And then actually get a grant that could make a difference in other people’s lives. The fourth, the fifth one is wisdom or wise. And, that was. This is the hardest one vice for me to embrace. People used to come and sit in my office, and I would say, why are you here? And they say, well, you just give such good advice, like, oh, this is my bossiness coming out. No, this is being able to apply, like I said, the knowledge that you have in a way that other people understand. Being able to understand where they are and meet them where they are, using your words in a way that is uplifting and careful. Respecting them as humans. Respecting them. even if they ask you if you’re a d and you want the, you know, just. Here’s the facts, ma’am. And she’s a c, and she wants every single answer to every single question. It’s being willing to take that time and meet her where she is and be respectful with that patient or that spouse and then wrapping it up with intentional means. I have a purpose. You did not ever worry. And, when I was working in the medical field and in the. In the hospital halls, M. You knew when I was coming, you never. I never could sneak up on anybody, and people would just. I had doctors and researchers, like, I hear you coming. Like, I’m. I don’t wonder. I move with a purpose. I know where I’m going. I have a plan, and I’m always focused on growth. And I think when we embody these six tenets, you’d be surprised at how many times we negotiate ourselves out of something, or we are willing to let something be dishonored because we’re not willing to do the hard work. We’re not willing to show up in a way that supports that for other people when we do this. It’s amazing, how other people feel welcomed, feel seen, feel appreciated and valued.

Bryce Curry: It’s a great model, and thank you for walking, through that. And, I just. I can. It’s so intentional. and I think it’s important because, you lived it and shared it and experienced it in the medical setting. and I think those that were around you, ah, were fortunate and benefited from that.

Andrea, knowing your purpose and your core values is crucial in medical training

and that’s why I wanted to have you as a guest here on unscripted and also look, to collaborate with you further across our network here at influent. because our three kind of main supporting reasons of our why I touched on one earlier, but is also to, be relational and intentional with those relationships. and the second is we believe everyone does have a purpose, and in the medical field, knowing, that purpose and your why and your core values, based off what you shared on this episode today, I think is just so important, as you move into, attending and having the confidence and if you know, kind, of where you’re at on that disc model and you do that work on yourself, it can only lead to better patient care and communication. And I support of your staff and leader. You know, you’re in a leadership position when you graduate from medical school and obviously as you progress, right. You, just naturally look to as being a leader. And, so thank you so much for going through those specific kind of models. I’ll call them. yeah. And, how can people find out more about, you and where can they go to, potentially reach out to you and, dive deeper into what we’re talking about here?

Andrea Johnson: Yes, and please do. I’m always eager to help other people and to work with others, but you can find me@theintentionaloptimist.com. and if you’re interested in starting with your core values, right above my head on my website is a button that says free core values exercise. It’s a one page download that will help you kind of walk through that. If you hit tools and you start looking for disc assessments, you’ll find all of those. It’s all accessible on my website. You can also follow me on Instagram at the intentionaloptimist, or I am on Facebook, but not. I don’t do much there. I’m mostly on Instagram and LinkedIn, so definitely reach out on LinkedIn. I will answer a DM from anybody as long as it’s not spam. And you can always email me, andrea at the intentionaloptimist.com dot. I have my own podcast as well, called stand Tall and own it. And we talk about things that make us unique and how we show up differently and kind of, making ourselves remember why we do what we do and not, not losing ourselves, especially for you guys in these hectic years, to just not lose yourself in all of this, because there’s a reason you’re there, and we need you to be there. People like my dad need you to be there. And we are, we are excited that you want to do this work. I originally started, as, like, a sophomore in high school, thinking I wanted to be a physician. And then I was like, oh, that’s a lot of work. Maybe I’ll just be a nurse practitioner. Oh, that’s a lot of work. Maybe I’ll just be a nurse. Oh, you know, I wouldn’t be in charge. Maybe I won’t do that. So I have a business degree, but that’s, I ended up in the medical profession anyway. And because that’s kind of where my heart was. And I don’t, I don’t always tell people


Andrea Johnson: that was my original career choice, but it really was. And so I have a real heart for, for you. So please reach out.

Bryce Curry: Yeah, please do. And, we will put all those links, in the show description, and also be promoting, Andrea across our network, on our socials as well, because we feel, it’s just vital to get this message out as a way of encouraging, you as an individual. you’re taking on a lot of hard things, and you’re extremely important to us as our society and, the next generation, and taking on all the different medical stuff that comes with it. It, and so the more confident that you are better patient care and all the stuff that comes with that. and I was so looking forward to this conversation, because defining your why, I can just say for me personally, has been important. And just to kind of circle back to that story that I opened with, we were in the ICU for about ten days, with our youngest son, and many people have gone through that situation, and they’re not always positive outcomes, but I had the chance to talk to the administrator, and I asked her about the doctor, and I just said, you know, he was kind of a, he’s a guiding light. He had this glow about him in such a, such a, I don’t know, challenging environment. And I said, why? What’s it, why would an individual take on such hard stuff? And she, she, she said that his why is to minister to the kids at a moment, of time, that there’s generally not a lot of hope. And that has stuck with me, ever since then. and so I just share that as an encouragement to our audience, to take what we’ve talked about today and learn and define your why, because, it matters to little individuals like myself and my family and our little guy at the moment of time. So I just wanted to share that story to kind of full, fully circle back on what we talked about today. So it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for your time, and, I look forward to, further conversations.

Andrea Johnson: Me, too. The pleasure has been mine. Thank you for this honor.

Unscripted takes a deeper look into knowing yourself and how to communicate effectively

Bryce Curry: I want to thank Andrea Johnson for joining me today on unscripted, we took a deeper look into knowing yourself and how to communicate effectively and choosing the right mindset. Most importantly, what I want you to take from this episode is defining your why and your core values during a critical moment of time in your educational journey. Stay tuned for more discussions, on important topics in the medical field. And one way to do that is to like and subscribe, and you’ll never miss an episode. I’m your host, Bryce Curry, and we’ll see you on the next one.