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“As we’re creating content for hospitalists, it’s really important to me for those who are looking for this information to know that they are getting it from someone who does the exact same work that they do. I am a clinical hospitalist. I see patients all day, every day.  And for me that’s one of the things I love about being a hospitalist.”

When it comes to reflecting both the depth and breadth of what’s changing in healthcare culture, the patient experience, and clinician engagement, Mark Shapiro, MD is dialed into the ever-evolving conversation, drawing insights from his years as a medical director and hospitalist as well as creator and host of Explore The Space podcast. Dr. Shapiro recently wrapped filming our new Clinician Experience Project hospitalist curriculum, so we invite you to take a few minutes to get to know him through his expertise and passion.

Q: Dr. Shapiro, you’re no stranger to the Clinician Experience Project, but we’d love to everyone get reacquainted with you as we excitedly roll out our new hospital medicine content inside our community. Please share a little bit about your background and leadership development experience.

I’m a full-time clinical hospitalist and I completed my training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas for medical school. I did my internal medicine residency at UC San Diego.

I worked as a hospitalist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in San Diego at Sharp Memorial Hospital and then moved back to my hometown in 2016 and where I have been a hospitalist with St. Joseph Health Medical Group of Sonoma County at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for the last couple of years.

In terms of leadership experience I’ve had over the course of my career, I’ve done a number of different things. When I was in San Diego I served as Chief of Internal Medicine a Sharp Memorial Hospital. When I came back to Santa Rosa, I worked as the Medical Director for the hospital program. It was a new program at the time and over the course of three years it grew very, very quickly and we were very successful in building a modern, 21st century hospital medicine division in a facility that serves the upper third of the state in northern California. So that was really, really exciting. 

I currently serve as the Associate Medical Director for Hospital Services for St. Joseph Health Medical Group and I’m on the board of directors for St. Joseph’s Health Medical Group of Sonoma County. I’ve been a clinical hospitalist the whole time. I love doing clinical medicine, and I find it both sustaining and inspiring. 

Q: In what ways has your history in growing professionally through physician coaching made an impact in your development as a leader and hospitalist? 

It all started when I originally met Dr. Beeson (Steve). We were both part of Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. I would see patients in the hospital who were his patients in the office, so we would connect around some of the patients we shared. We saw each other socially and we became friends. And over that period of time I got to know Steve. I also got to know all of the successful work that he was doing for Sharp Healthcare around organizational improvement, physician coaching, and patient experience.

We came on board as collaborators when I actually sought him out because I’d been an attending for several years and I just felt although clinically I was competent and doing fine, I didn’t feel a sense of aspiration or inspiration. I reached out to Steve to see if I could I get a coaching session with him. He came to shadow me and just gave me direction about things that I could do differently or better which helped me reconnect to better patient care, not as much from the clinical domain, but from more of the philosophical domain. 

He approached me with the opportunity to actually come aboard with Practicing Excellence as a collaborator and as a contributor for hospitalist curriculum. Over the last year or so I’ve had the time and the opportunity to come back aboard and that’s just been really thrilling. Practicing Excellence as a whole organization—the mission, the work, and the team with Steve guiding it—is so inspiring for me. It’s the right work and to be able to be a part of it again and be back creating curriculum, interfacing with all the different people around the country that are using the Clinician Experience Project, is just incredibly meaningful for me.  

Q: What do you think clinicians who engage with the Clinician Experience Project hospitalist curriculum will find most practical for their connections with patients and collaboration in teams?

As we’re creating content for hospitalists, it’s really important to me for those who are looking for this information to know that they are getting it from someone who does the exact same work that they do. I am a clinical hospitalist. I see patients all day, every day.  And for me that’s one of the things I love about being a hospitalist.

So for those who come to the Clinician Experience Project with a sense of enthusiasm or with a sense of trepidation or with a sense of “this is just another thing that I have to do,” it’s really important for me to convey that I do the same work that they do. We face the same challenges; we enjoy the same successes. We want to come at this from a place of “we want to get better” and we want to have the careers that we sought out when we first embarked on this journey. We want to take great care of patients and we want to do something that feels aspirational. 

So when we sit down to create content around this, that’s the central dogma underneath it. And then it’s about developing skills that are practical, that are easy to implement, that anybody can do, and that will reap real benefit. Your patients will benefit; your teams will benefit; you will benefit when you start to think about and build skills around incredibly practical tips, such as “Creating A First Impression” as a hospitalist.

Q: You speak with thought leaders on your podcast who span across the spectrum of healthcare, innovation, culture, and so much more. Tell us about how gleaning insights from your guests and colleagues you interview uniquely informs the way you seek to improve the patient experience and healthcare in general?

My podcast, Explore The Space, has been up and running for about a little over five years now. The archive has more than 150 episodes! The concept behind the show is to look at topics related to healthcare and to bring closer together those who seek to provide care with those who are seeking care. In doing so it allows me to really get into a really, really eclectic topic list. Guests dive into leadership, culture, innovation, education, illness, recovery, mental and physical toughness, and more. We dip into incredibly important public health issues like gun violence and climate change and the opioid epidemic. It’s just a really exciting and diverse ecosystem. 

And I think in terms of specifically improving the patient experience, when you hear from experts, when you when you speak with and learn from people who are really good at what they do and they want to share it, it builds collaboration, it builds on a sense of curiosity that can only help inform you at the bedside.

From a clinical perspective, it’s incredibly valuable for me to learn from an eclectic range of diverse minds in healthcare and beyond—it makes a difference in how I approach my work and connect more dynamically with patients.

Q: What coaching moments come to mind based on your interactions with patients or interprofessional conversations that have helped you rediscover “the why” behind your clinical work?

The thing that leaps to my mind is a really simple practice. It’s there for the taking for every single one of us. It’s there when you’re part of a team, leveraging every aspect of patient outcomes, whether it’s patient understanding, improved communication, patient compliance, shared decision making, or your teams doing better: It’s rounding with the nurse. It’s that when you’re seeing a patient that you reach out to the nurse and call them and say, “Hey, I’m going to go see the patient in Room 250. Please come and join me.” 

When you’re in there together and it’s a dynamic where it’s hospitalist/nurse/patient sharing ideas discussing things together, you’re just laying in many pieces that are so important to the day-to-day puzzle. Then you’re able to directly impact honestly almost every metric you can think of, whether it’s the number of times you get paged in a day or your communication with nurses or how efficient you are on rounds or how you communicate with patients and their family’s perceptions of care.

You name the metric: Rounding with the nurse will impact it for the good. That’s the one that for me: 95% percent of the time for the last decade I cannot do without it. That’s it. It’s mandatory required work for me.  

Your can learn more about our clinician curriculum developers by visiting our Faculty page. And if you’re curious about how your organization could benefit from hospitalist coaching content, we’d love to have a conversation to hear about your goals.