Podcast Episode 8 | Finding Sanity Through Stress as a Doctor - Part 1

With Dr. Carmen Teague, Director of Internal Medicine for Atrium Healthcare

About the Prosperous Doc® Podcast

The Prosperous Doc® podcast by Spaugh Dameron Tenny highlights real-life stories from doctors and dentist to encourage and inspire listeners through discussions of professional successes and failures in addition to personal stories and financial wellness advice.

Shane Tenny, CFP® is our podcast host and Partner at SDT. He has lectured numerous times for hospitals and physician groups and, most importantly, helped hundreds of clients develop strategies to navigate through turbulent times toward their financial goals.

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Intro: 00:02 From Spaugh Dameron Tenny, it's White Coat Wellness, a show for doctors who are ready to improve their financial wellness. We know you work hard to help your patients, but you can't be at your best if you don't have your own finances in order. In White Coat Wellness, we highlight real life stories from physicians and dentists, to educate, encourage and inspire you to personal, professional and financial wellness. Now from Spaugh Dameron Tenny, please welcome your host, Shane Tenny.

Shane Tenny: 00:31 Today's episode brought to you by SunTrust Mortgage and our good friend Jason Watkins. Specializing in flexible mortgage financing options, specifically for doctors and dentists. To have a conversation with Jason, you can Google search Jason Watkins, SunTrust Mortgage or call him directly, (704) 654-6058.

Shane Tenny: 00:56 Today we're going to talk about finding peace and hope in the midst of life's crazy, unexpected surprises and stress. Dr. Carmen Teague is not only the director of internal medicine for Atrium Healthcare, but is first and foremost a wife of her high school sweetheart, a dedicated mom of four, board member of Bless Back Worldwide. In 2017, she reluctantly published her first book titled Motherhood, Medicine and Mayhem, and joins us today to share a little bit of her story on finding sanity in the midst of the stress.

Shane Tenny: 01:28 In fact, actually, today is going to be part one of what I'm pretty sure will end up being a two part conversation. Carmen, thanks so much for being here.

Carmen Teague: 01:35 You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

Shane Tenny: 01:37 You've got some really thoughtful perspective around trends in medicine and physician burnout that I know we're going to cover probably in our next episode. I wonder first if you can just help us get to know a little bit more about you.

Carmen Teague: 01:49 Sure.

Shane Tenny: 01:50 Unlike a lot of docs that I talk with, you openly say that medicine wasn't your first choice of career. Maybe you could start at the beginning and tell us a little bit about the early years for you.

Carmen Teague: 02:00 Absolutely. In fact, medicine was the furthest career from my radar in all of my formative years growing up. In fact, I thought I was going to be a missionary. Just when I was in the fifth grade, I remember the teacher, the first day of school having us stand up, tell our name, what we wanted to do when we grew up. I popped up and said, "Hi, my name is Carmen and I want to be a missionary." The teacher put her hands on her hips and she looked at me, she said, "What in the world is that?" I popped back, "Oh somebody who tells the world about Jesus," and she politely asked me to sit down and moved on to the next student.

Carmen Teague: 02:35 I never in a million years thought that my calling as a missionary would end up in medicine. I loved people, I knew I liked to talk to people and even that teacher knew I liked to talk a lot. I thought I would go into counseling. Diplomacy I entertained that thought for about three weeks as a freshman, and then moved on to a degree in psychology with a minor in speech communications heavily on the performance side. I had a blast in college. All my pre-med friends were studying all the time and I was having the time of my life, and it was awesome.

Shane Tenny: 03:08 Where did you go to undergrad?

Carmen Teague: 03:09 I went to the university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Shane Tenny: 03:12 Go Hills.

Carmen Teague: 03:12 Amen. Love my Tar Heels. It was an amazing experience and I was blessed to go there on a scholarship that had me very busy with summer internships. It was a lot of fun, a lot of experiences, a lot of amazing people that I met along the way. All along I knew I wanted to help people. I knew I wanted to make life better, and I was planning to get a PhD in clinical psychology and become a doctor of psychology.

Carmen Teague: 03:36 My senior year, mid semester, I had an encounter with a pastor by the name of David Chadwick, who folks may remember, who has spent most of his career here in Charlotte. In the midst of speaking to him after an event in Chapel Hill, he let me know that Gordon-Conwell Seminary was opening a campus here in Charlotte. He suggested, I may think about getting a degree in seminary, before going on to the academic wasteland of a PhD in psychology.

Carmen Teague: 04:03 I entertained the thought for a whopping two weeks, filled out an application. The next thing I know, right after graduation, I was starting a degree in Christian counseling at Gordon-Conwell. I took classes in the Charlotte campus for about a year, and then transferred to Boston. Was loving every minute of the experience, and ended up spending a year at a state psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane and the indigent insane in the state of Massachusetts.

Carmen Teague: 04:30 In that bizarre setting, I fell in love with medicine. I had all of these people around me, very wise, intelligent, clinical people saying I was wasting my life and I really needed to rethink my direction. I was devastated. I never entertained that thought and was completely convinced they were all wrong. I fought it, kicked, screamed, yelled, and went ahead and applied to PhD programs. That was a colossal fail. My husband was going to law school at the same time and he got into 10 out of 10 schools to which he applied. I did not get into 10 PhD programs, and so with my tail tucked and my heart down, I entered a dark night of the soul. Just had to do some serious soul searching to determine if medicine was my career.

Carmen Teague: 05:15 I started taking classes at night back in the North Carolina area at Duke Chapel Hill, Durham Tech Community College. Before I knew it, I found that I was enamored with organic chemistry and anatomy and physiology. My path to medicine was not an overnight flip of a switch. It was a begrudging, dragging my feet, kicking and screaming, saying, "God, are you sure? Are you really sure this is what I'm supposed to do?"

Carmen Teague: 05:40 Took me two years to take the prerequisites, but right before my 28th birthday, I started med school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and here we are.

Shane Tenny: 05:50 Absolutely, and so along the way though, you not only fell in love with medicine, but I think you fell in love with Joe.

Carmen Teague: 05:57 I did, and that's a funny story as well. I met my husband on a blind date in high school. Some mutual friends set us up. We had lived in the same general area, but attended different elementary and middle schools. Found ourselves at a party, set up on a date my junior year of high school, and I thought, "This dude is different." He had a different haircut, he wore a lot of black, a lot of Led Zeppelin T-shirts. I'm telling my friends, "This is so not going to work out," and I was so wrong.

Carmen Teague: 06:27 We dated about six months and then he left for college, and I decided we needed a break. I went to be a foreign exchange student in another country, in Paraguay for a couple months. Came back to the States, he was in college and we reconnected my senior year of high school, and the rest is history. We have been soulmates and best friends ever since.

Shane Tenny: 06:48 Married young.

Carmen Teague: 06:49 Very young, so we got engaged in college, and we married when we were a whopping 22 years old. I graduated from Chapel Hill on Mother's Day, and three weeks later married my very best friend on D-day and that's the only way he remembers our anniversary. We were both 22.

Shane Tenny: 07:07 Yeah, so we'll just keep reminding everybody that's very young, at least for our kids who might be listening to this.

Carmen Teague: 07:12 Good point. We grew up together, that's what we jokingly say.

Shane Tenny: 07:17 In the midst of getting married and then moving to Boston and then changing career trajectories, your family plan didn't unfold quite with the timing that you both had in mind.

Carmen Teague: 07:30 No. I jokingly say that my life verse is Proverbs 19:21, which says, "Carmen may plan all things, but the Lord's will be done." That was absolutely the case as far as family planning and fertility as well. In fact, you never think about fertility until it doesn't work. Joe and I got married at 22 and we had this grand plan that five years into marriage we would think about kids. We would be in our late 20s, it was the perfect age, et cetera.

Carmen Teague: 07:57 Well, five years into marriage, I was starting med school and he was a second year law student, and it was not the best time. We hit the pause button and we waited another couple of years. Then my last year of medical school was a great time, we thought to have kids. We planned an entire year of my med school classes around having the last four or five months off so we could have a baby. Of course, we had to conceive within a three month window and that didn't work for second or third month. We're like, "Bummer," and instead I ended up going to Africa for a couple of months and doing some medical missions work. I'm like, "Okay, fine, God's plan, whatever."

Carmen Teague: 08:34 From that point on, we realized maybe having a baby is not so easy. We stopped preventing, which is really the same thing as trying, but nothing happened over the next couple of years. I was getting a little older and then by that point you engage with fertility specialists, and you start going through these rounds and rounds of tests. In my case, we had been married almost 11 years at that point, and I started being eaten alive with guilt. Oh my goodness, I've postponed child bearing years. I've been so selfish with a career, and it's amazing what kind of trick shrine plays on you during this fertility process. It was agonizing and it was painful.

Carmen Teague: 09:13 I was convinced something was wrong with me, and I knew just enough to be dangerous, because I was starting my residency. I had been through all the fertility classes, et cetera. As a resident, we were actually going through fertility treatments, which sound crazy. I was getting no younger and we thought we couldn't postpone this forever. I've been down that path of Clomid for months and my husband said I was the Tasmanian devil the whole time I was on it. Having been married to me for 10 years, he could probably say that.

Carmen Teague: 09:43 Then we went through multiple fertility procedures, including IUI or intrauterine insemination and none of it worked. We decided to take some time off, kind of an exasperation. We even resorted to meeting each other at a Motel 6 when I was far, far away from him, I'm on a rotation and nothing worked. In our fertility doctor's wisdom, he said, "You need to take some time off. You're a stress ball, this is not working. You really need to step away." We were to the point of thinking, "Okay, wow, maybe we're not going to bear children this way. Maybe it's going to be the adoption path."

Carmen Teague: 10:18 Then the months that we took off, well, good old fashion bearing of children happened, I became pregnant with our first kid, 11 and a half years after we were married.

Shane Tenny: 10:28 Yeah, and having walked that journey and having my own familiarity with it, I know when you're in the midst of that and just the shame, frustration, sadness. The emptiness that comes, and then people say pithy, trite things to you.

Carmen Teague: 10:48 You think you're the only one in this situation.

Shane Tenny: 10:50 Yeah, and I guess I'm curious having gone down that path. When you meet someone either in the office, at church, in the community and then the topic comes up or they share their struggle with fertility, which is so personal, what do you say?

Carmen Teague: 11:07 I just listen. I have found that everyone's story is slightly different, and the emotions you go through may be different, but you go through them in different phases. Just like grief is a process, you go through it in different phases. I found that when I talked to patients or colleagues or friends who are going through infertility, I just sit. I just listen and allow them to pour out their heart, because it's very difficult.

Carmen Teague: 11:31 Everybody has a different story of how they come to fertility. You can be 22 or 42 and be struggling with it, and I found that allowing folks the space to cry, to curse if necessary, to just let all the emotions is incredibly powerful. If people ask, I'll share my own story, but I try not to share it unless people want to know or they want to others who are inspired by it.

Shane Tenny: 11:55 Well, I am asking, so I do want to know because I know you ended up having two daughters.

Carmen Teague: 12:02 I did.

Shane Tenny: 12:03 Then you have a pretty neat adoption story.

Carmen Teague: 12:04 I do.

Shane Tenny: 12:05 Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that.

Carmen Teague: 12:06 I can. On one of those first States in high school, and I know we met on a blind date, I cannot tell you if it was the first date, maybe the second. I have a vivid memory of my husband talking about adoption, and how he thought it was a beautiful picture of God's grace. How he wanted that for his life someday, and I thought, "That's pretty deep coming from a 17 year old, I should keep him." Well I did.

Carmen Teague: 12:28 Fast forward, 10 years and we started the fertility shenanigans if you will in earnest, the adoption narrative was always on the back of our minds. We're like, "Okay, well are we adopting now or are we going to try to have our own kids? Is this something we should talk about or we should wait or whatever?" It was always a running theme I would say on the back burner, but we were never really ready to go down that path until we had exhausted everything with fertility.

Carmen Teague: 12:54 Well, I did end up having two daughters, about two and a half years apart. I am not the poster child for pregnancy either. I was very ill and almost died with my second pregnancy. I say that not tongue in cheek with all earnesty, I had a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. I was very sick and lost a lot of weight with both pregnancies. Then I had gestational diabetes with both pregnancies, and I was on insulin five times a day. At the end of my last pregnancy I was very brittle. It was horrible, and I had my very dear friend, colleague and diabetologist say to me, "You can't go through another pregnancy. You won't survive it and you may leave two children without a mom." That's a pretty devastating thing to hear when you're actually a medical professional.

Carmen Teague: 13:39 After the birth of that child, we realize that our family was not finished, and God had laid adoption on our hearts for a reason. Maybe it was time to reenergize that discussion. When our daughters were around four and one, we started talking about adoption again and started exploring what does that look like? I think for the 10 to 12 years we've been talking about it, we had in our minds, we were going to go adopt a little girl from China, because that was the thing to do. That was kind of the adoption narrative you heard from people. We quickly realized, wait a minute, international adoptions not that easy. At that time China was closed and we had two little girls and we're like, "Maybe God's calling us to something different."

Carmen Teague: 14:21 We looked at international adoption. We actually were fairly far down the road with South Korea and Guatemala. Literally overnight, both of those countries closed their doors. If you've been down the adoption path, you understand that can happen with different countries. That was a frustrating six months, so we said, "Okay, back up and punt, we will look at domestic adoption. We'll just adopt right here in Mecklenburg County."

Carmen Teague: 14:43 We went down that path for a while and unfortunately that door slammed in our face as well. There are lots of factors that go into adopting locally, and we did not meet the criteria that the folks in this county thought appropriate. I'll leave it at that, but it's a complicated story and you can read more about it in my book. It was kind of devastating, because there's a lot of kids that need adoption and it was a frustrating process.

Carmen Teague: 15:09 Then we said, "Okay, fine, we'll just adopt right here in North Carolina. If not in our county, we'll try local adoption." Then you quickly learned that adoption is a morass of legal rules and complications. There are 50 States, 50 sets of laws, very little reciprocity. Even with a doctor and lawyer as two people trying to figure it out, we were overwhelmed.

Carmen Teague: 15:31 We sat down one night, pretty much exasperated as we'd been down this adoption path about 18 months at this point. We literally Googled adoption consultant, because we thought, "Surely, there's somebody out there that can help us navigate this path, because we're not doing a very good job." Sure enough, there are companies, a handful here in the United States that are adoption consultants. For lack of a better analogy, they're like headhunters. You pay them a flat fee and they serve as agents that look at adoptions or adoption agencies with states and favorable laws.

Carmen Teague: 16:04 Instead of signing up with one agency and being at the mercy of whatever opportunities come in the door to that agency, you're surfing multiple agencies at once. We liked this agency and we found them in April, signed on with them a month later. Within two weeks we had a call from an agency in Oklahoma that said they had a baby who was due in a few weeks and a birth mom that was interested in talking to us. We're like, "Oh my, this is a little faster than we expected, but awesome."

Carmen Teague: 16:34 We had a few conversations with that mom, and at the end of the second one she asked us to take her son. We were completely, utterly and totally overwhelmed. I hung up on a Thursday night and called everybody I knew and said, "I'm going to have a baby boy in two weeks." I owned nothing blue at that point. I didn't sleep much that night, and the next morning I got a call from the consultant that basically said, "Hey, pull the plug. Stop everything. This is not going to happen. You need to pass on this opportunity." I'm like, "Whoa, wait a minute, that baby's mine. What are you talking about?"

Carmen Teague: 17:06 We learned that in the week that we had been speaking to this birth mom, she was not engaging with her agency in Oklahoma. We had a relationship with the consultant. The consultant had a relationship with the agency and this birth mom was with the agency. It was a triangle that was a little convoluted. Our consultant and trying to protect us said, "Something's wrong, you really need to walk away from this opportunity." I was devastated. I cried all day Friday, all day Saturday, most of the day Sunday. Ended up in the prayer room at our church that Sunday with two women who had adopted. I know that was divine intervention, because they helped me kind of work through, "Okay, maybe this one's going to parent. Maybe they were rolling her life is pushing her to that." I'm like, "I don't like it, but if that's the case, great."

Carmen Teague: 17:48 That evening we were at home and received a call from the consultant. The consultant said, "You need to sit down." I'm like, "The woman called back, yay, she's in." She's like, "No, no, no, no, no. Sit down." I sat and she said, "I have a bog." I'm like, "I am not following you." She said, "I have a baby on the ground." I'm like, "Great. Did you drop it? What's the problem here?" She said, "No, no, no." She said, "I just got a call from another agency in California that has a baby boy who has been abandoned at a hospital over the weekend, that's known as a bog or a baby on the ground." She said, "This agency needs a family in California tomorrow morning. If you say yes, he's yours, but you have 10 minutes to make a decision and you need to put the Oklahoma baby out of your head."

Carmen Teague: 18:29 We're like, "What?" We took a deep breath and we said, "You have to give us five minutes. We need to pray through this." Mind you, my girls were two and five at the time. I hung up the phone with the consultant. I called my parents and I said, "Get in the car and start driving here." They live about an hour away. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm going to need help, whatever happens." We went to two rooms in our house and we prayed like we have never prayed before. We came back to the kitchen, we were playing chicken around the bar and I said to my husband, I'm like, "So what did God tell you?" He's like, "No, you first, what did God tell you? We kind of need the same answer here."

Carmen Teague: 19:02 Luckily we both had this overwhelming sense of we go, we say, yes, this baby needs a home, we can do this. We call back to the consultant seven minutes later and she's like, "Great, but there's a complication," and we're like, "What?" In that seven minutes another family had gotten ahead of us for that baby, and it had to do with delays on servers and information traveling across the United States. Long story short, the agency that had this baby also had another family that had, had a failed adoption the very same weekend.

Carmen Teague: 19:32 In the world of adoption etiquette, if you have a failed adoption, meaning you travel for a baby, birth mom changes her mind, then you have right of first refusal with the very next baby that comes available. This bog was the next baby. The agency is in Washington State, the baby is in California, the other family is in Michigan, we are in North Carolina, that's three times zones. We were at the mercy of waiting it out and the consultant said, "You need to give this family 24 hours to determine if they can mobilize and go again." Thus, I entered what I jokingly call adoption purgatory. For 24 hours I cried and I waited and I waited, and it was by far the longest delivery ever. 24 hours later we got a call and that Monday night, and the consultant's words were simply so, "I hope you have a name picked out." I'm like, "What?" She said, "That family passed, you need to get on a ride out and go get your son," and so we did.

Carmen Teague: 20:25 We jumped on a ride out of California that night and on Tuesday morning after my son had been born on Friday night, we adopted Titus. It was phenomenal and amazing and the most amazing six hours of my life. We got to a hotel room with this baby, and we decided we owed the woman in Oklahoma a call or an explanation to let her know that our life had changed. The Thursday night before, four days prior, we told her we would take her son. We called the consultant, the consultant got a message supposedly to the birth mom and we thought that was the end of it.

Carmen Teague: 21:00 However, the very next morning, as we have spent the first night in a hotel room with a baby boy that I had no idea what to do with, our phone rang. It was the birth mom from Oklahoma and she asked me four questions, all four questions about the boy we just adopted, and then she blew us away. She's like, "Wow, this is great. Now my son can have two sisters and a brother who's adopted just like him." From the depths of my soul and I have no idea how out of my mouth came, "Sure he could."

Carmen Teague: 21:31 My husband walked back in the hotel room with an ice bucket, dropped it on the floor and said, "Oh my word. What have we done?" I'm like, "I don't know." Two weeks later we flew to Oklahoma and we got our second son. Tyre became part of our family. My sons are two weeks and five days apart, and who would have believed that adoption could go from zero to two in three months, but we're living proof that it can happen. Life's not been right since.

Carmen Teague: 21:57 At that point I had a five year old, a two year old and two infants. I don't remember much about the next year, I guess it was a blur, but it was beautiful and fun and chaotic. I cannot imagine our lives without them.

Shane Tenny: 22:11 Absolutely incredible story. No doubt, this is clearly all the resume that's needed to be featured on this podcast about managing sanity and chaos. We're going to take a quick break, and then I've got a couple more questions for you right after this.

Will Koster: 22:32 I'm Will Koster, and this episode's White Coat Wisdom is sponsored by SunTrust Mortgage. We often get questions about physician mortgages. What are the pros and the cons of these types of programs? Well, I can't say if they're right for you. I wanted to use my time on this episode to discuss some of the details of physician mortgage programs.

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Will Koster: 23:45 Bottom line and the takeaway for all of this, if you are a physician in the market for a new home, you'll want to consider if a physician loan is right for you. If you'd like some more information, we'll put some links in the show notes and as always, drop us a line if you'd like to talk to a professional about your specific situation. I'm Will Koster and thanks again to SunTrust for sponsoring this episode's White Coat Wisdom.

Shane Tenny: 24:08 Carmen, early in your book again, Motherhood, Medicine and Mayhem, to remind our listeners here, you said something that sounds to me like a life theme for you I'm guessing. It's this, it says or you said, "Nothing has turned out like I planned it. Life is so completely unpredictable, so far out of my control. It's more than I ever imagined. I've learned to embrace entropy and find meaning in the mayhem." When did you start to have this kind of self-realization about the craziness but learning to embrace it?

Carmen Teague: 24:42 Hindsight's 2020 and I can tell you the first time I saw my life first out of Proverbs, which basically says the same thing, and I was in college between my junior and senior year of college. I mentioned earlier, I went to college on a scholarship that you had summer travel experiences. I was actually in Singapore working for Singapore Youth for Christ. It was an incredible experience and somehow I convinced a secular scholarship that travel abroad, study abroad could actually support a mission trip.

Carmen Teague: 25:15 A friend of mine and I traveled throughout Singapore doing Christian music concerts in every high school there. It was phenomenal. I remember having one of those crazy days, where we'd been all over the city and I came back into the Singapore Youth for Christ headquarters. In the middle of a stairwell I literally was looking down at the stairs, just looked up, I had this poster and it had a really ugly picture of a flower on it, but it had this verse. It was Proverbs 19:21 it says, "Man may plan all things, but the Lord's will be done." I thought, "Isn't that the theme of my summer? Never in a million years did I think my summer abroad, study abroad was going to be kind of missionary work and doing missions."

Carmen Teague: 25:53 That verse has resonated and come back to me so many times. I found myself using it in so many situations. Coming to medicine, I came kicking and screaming. It's not what I thought. I never thought being a missionary would be talking to patients in a 10 by 10 exam room. I swore that I would never have a boyfriend in college or high school, and I ended up marrying my high school sweetheart, so go figure. Then to start out in a career and end up so different, it's been absolutely incredible.

Carmen Teague: 26:28 With my children I live this every day. I never ever thought I would be the mother of four kids. In fact, my husband, who knows me better than any soul on the planet used to say to me, he's like, "You know, I love you. You're an awesome person, but I really never thought you'd be a real good parent, because you're not very nurturing. You're kind of a get over it kind of person." I think something flips inside of you when you become a parent.

Carmen Teague: 26:53 I have learned that every day is better than the last with my kids, and every day in the midst of the pandemonium and the chaos, you just kind of have to embrace it and figure out, there's a lesson here, there's a joy here. Sometimes the joy is in a shattered television, which happened to us a couple of weeks ago. Some days it's in a broken dishwasher lid that somebody steps on, but sometimes you just got to laugh. That's been my theme verse.

Carmen Teague: 27:23 I do have a former partner in medicine that jokingly said to me, "That entropy surrounds you." In fact, the working title of the book when I first started writing was Embracing Entropy, but coach said that was too complicated, because it was too technical. Entropy is the state of matter going into disarray and the lack of control all the time, and I feel like that's my life. I have learned that in the midst of that utter chaos, you just got to find joy and you see God working. It's been pretty cool.

Shane Tenny: 27:54 Listening to you and just the smile and I don't know, the way that you embrace your whole description there. I'm thinking of someone who may be listening to us today, maybe a resident, maybe a fellow, maybe a fellow practitioner around the country. Anytime you go to a conference or you hear somebody being interviewed, it's easy to put them up on a pedestal. You're a practicing physician, you juggle a panel of patients, you're in leadership at the hospital, you juggle four kids, pets, church, volunteering, board work. Do you ever just feel flat out overwhelmed?

Carmen Teague: 28:28 Every single day. That's a funny question because I, by nature, I'm a type A control freak personality. I realize I'm really never in control of my circumstance. I just try to convince myself that I'm in control of my circumstances. I sometimes have to step back and remind myself that I don't control anybody. I can't make a patient do anything. I cannot make an 11 year old boy pick up his socks despite my absolute best effort on a daily basis. I have to recognize that I fail, that I get the diagnosis wrong, that I yell at a kid when I'm really frustrated for something that happens at work. I have to give myself grace.

Carmen Teague: 29:14 I think the ability to recognize that we're all broken, that we're all forgiven and that we all make mistakes every day is what gives me the ability to keep going. You have absolutely have to have a sense of humor. You've just got to laugh at yourself. The first time we tried to do this interview, an hour before I ripped a toenail off at a meeting. I came in to do this podcast in excruciating pain, wanting to die. I laughed when I left because the equipment didn't work and we didn't get to record it the first time, that is my life. That is entropy. Sometimes the strangest mishaps turn into great fortunes and you just have to roll with it.

Shane Tenny: 29:53 That's hugely comforting. I was worried it was me for a minute, but now I see it's you.

Carmen Teague: 29:58 It's me. I'm the hot mess.

Shane Tenny: 30:01 As we kind of wrap up this session, where do you find wellness? What does wellness look like for you?

Carmen Teague: 30:08 I think it's perspective and priorities. First and foremost, I cling staunchly to my faith. I'm going to carve out every day a time to read my Bible and to really focus on what it's saying. For me, I have to have structure, so I have a very clear reading through the Bible path that keeps me on task. There's my control freak coming out, but I have to just carve out that time. For me, it's at the end of the day. For others, it's at the beginning of the day. First that has to be my focus.

Carmen Teague: 30:38 Second, my family and sometimes as a professional and I work crazy hours and try to take care of lots of patients, to do a lot of administrative things. Sometimes my family gets the worst of me and I have to consciously make an effort that before I walk in the door to my house to say, "God these children are a gift. This is a blessing. This man You've given me is an incredible gift from You. Help me not to be the devil incarnate when I walk into the door and take out my day on them."

Carmen Teague: 31:06 Then third, you've got to take care of your body. I do get up every morning at 4:30 and I go workout. Patients look at me like, "What is wrong with you?" I'm like, well, number one, there's no integrity in telling a patient to do something you're not willing to do yourself. I'm a much nicer person when I go exercise. With my ripped off toenail this morning, I met my running buddy and she saw that I was limping. She's like, "Hey, why don't we walk the four miles today?" I'm like, "Thank you."

Carmen Teague: 31:32 I was out there this morning, waddling around in my running shoes, not running, but the key is to make it a priority in what you do. I think it's just focus. You've got to take time for that, and then don't panic when things don't go as planned, because they won't ever.

Shane Tenny: 31:52 Good words. Good words. Why don't we take a pause here. We'll finish the interview in our next section where we are going to talk about some of the trends in medicine that you're seeing, physician burnout. Thanks so much for being with us today.

Carmen Teague: 32:04 Thanks for having me.

Will Koster: 32:09 I'm Will Koster, and on this episode's White Coat Achievements, a segment that highlights noteworthy achievements by your friends and colleagues, we're highlighting a female physician who brought 20 other female physicians and dentists together to share their memoirs in a book titled The Chronicles of Women in White Coats. Dr. Amber Robins is a board certified family medicine doctor practicing in Arlington, Virginia. In addition to being a bestselling author, she's also the co-founder of the Women in White Coats blog. Dr. Robins has written for various media, including the PBS NewsHour, Huffington Post, ABC News, blackdoctor.org, KevinMD and many more.

Will Koster: 32:47 The book launch in May of 2018 gave rise to a bigger conversation about women in medicine, which led to the creation of the Women in White Coats blog. It's a movement all about women in white coats empowering one another. The blog has allowed the conversation to go beyond those 20 doctors and highlight valuable stories from other women in medicine.

Will Koster: 33:07 Here's one of my favorite quotes from their website. "Anytime women come together with a collective intention, it's a powerful thing. When women come together with a collective intention, magic happens." We applaud Dr. Robins and wanted to highlight her on today's White Coat Achievements, and wish her the best in continuing her goal of motivating others to achieve their own personal success.

Will Koster: 33:27 If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Amber Robins or the Women in White Coats blog, there will be some links in the show notes. As always, if you know someone who is wearing a white coat and is achieving something noteworthy, please drop us a line. We'd love to hear about it and might even feature them in a future episode. Again, this episode's White Coat Achievement goes to Dr. Amber Robins.

Shane Tenny: 33:50 Carmen Teague, doctor, leader, mom, volunteer, navigator of life's craziness with grace and occasionally even poise. Again, her book is Motherhood, Medicine and Mayhem. You can find it on Amazon or track her down through her website, which is carmen-teague.com, C-A-R-M-E-N dash T-E-A-G-U-E.com. As always, if you've enjoyed this episode, please take a minute to subscribe and also give us a review on iTunes or Google Play.

Shane Tenny: 34:17 Also, I want to let you know, we're planning a series in the coming months on marriage and money. If you and your spouse would be willing to tell us some of the story of how you've navigated money issues in your marriage, or maybe you have a friend you want to volunteer in your place, please drop me an email, shane@whitecoatwell.com.

Shane Tenny: 34:37 Finally, we've started a community of people interested in White Coat Wellness, and so we have a private closed group on Facebook called White Coat Wellness, specifically to help you connect with others in medicine or dentistry, who want to share life together. Hope you'll check that out. Thanks so much for joining us and we'll see you back here next time.

Outro: 34:55 This episode of White Coat Wellness is over, but you're not alone on your journey towards financial wellness. Spaugh Dameron Tenny has been helping physicians and dentists with their financial planning for over 60 years, and we'd love to answer any questions that would be of help to you. Visit sdtplanning.com today, and take your financial wellness to new levels. Once again, that's sdtplanning.com and we'll see you on the next episode of White Coat Wellness.