Dr. Shelley Meyer: hello and welcome to the Dr. Shelly Meyer YouTube channel and the women in medicine be the change podcast I’m so excited to welcome Dr. Jia Ung to the channel and to the podcast today and we are going to get her unique take on women in medicine as far as academia and academic medicine goes because I am no expert on that and she is and I can’t wait to hear her take on all that and how that can relate how burnout can happen how overwhelmed can happen in that unique area of medicine so welcome.

Dr. Jia Ung: Thank you so much it’s my pleasure

Dr. Shelley Meyer: And so I wanted to start by you telling your story of your path in medicine how you got where you’re at now um you’re a nephrologist correct?

Dr. Jia Ung: that’s correct

Dr. Shelley Meyer: and then in academic medicine so tell us your story maybe um any kind of experiences of overwhelm you’ve had in relation to all the different hats you’re wearing and just however you want to tell that story go right ahead

Dr. Jia Ung: right um so I did my medical school at um Malaysia and in Dublin Roy college of surgeons and after internship in Malaysia I came to do residency in Pennsylvania at crozier and then did my fellowship at university of Pennsylvania where um I did also master’s in clinical epidemiology because I wanted to pursue research and uh medical school was fine residency was tough because that’s where I had my first child during internship and then then I went to fellowship with a second six month old baby

Dr. Shelley Meyer: oh my god I can’t imagine

Dr. Jia Ung: and that was very the first one was fine um it was the second one you know once you add on the second one people don’t tell you like the second child is not double the work it seems like more

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah

Dr. Jia Ung: and because it’s also the first year fellowship um the workload was high and I was traveling driving 45 minutes to the hospital so that was taking a toll and the main issue I realized at that time was the lack of sleep and feeling like I’m always behind you know you you’ve been through medical school always feeling like you’re at the top in class and then for first time in fellowship I felt like I always was the last one I left work the latest I came I came to work the earliest because I want to finish up but I could never keep up and at one point I was so exhausted because of everything and um my effectiveness at work was poor that means you know I needed an intervention like oh you are not really performing you’re making mistakes apparently almost like falling asleep while talking to attending

Dr. Shelley Meyer: oh no

Dr. Jia Ung: yes and uh so it was good that my program director uh called me in and said I think you need to rest you need to take time off which was a blow because I always felt like I could handle everything yes then um I rested I slept for two weeks and

Dr Shelley Meyer: oh wow

Dr. Jia Ung: and the laundry you know just day-to-day activity and when I came back I just found a new me not in the sense of a new achievement but the fog lifted like right I was just so exhausted and realized um I couldn’t tell if I was burned out or not but I was definitely overwhelmed and just so exhausted so that was kind of my first um first time overwhelmed like really took over my life

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah and what a good residency director to recognize that and to give you that time off because that that’s pretty rare

Dr. Jia Ung: yes

Dr. Shelley Meyer: and then with academic medicine we had talked before about how you know stressful that can be and as far as having to not only do the research but then write the research so tell me about how overwhelmed can happen in that situation as well

Dr. Jia Ung: absolutely um the main uh difference when you start going to academia is the lack of structure so you go into academia thinking you need to do research okay and we forget that the final output is the paper means you actually have to write and the time you need to write is actually a lot you know it takes a long time and from my experience the writing takes maybe 50 to 60 percent of the time from of the project and because I wasn’t trained in that because we were expected to kind of navigate ourselves or maybe learn during undergraduate uh school but actually it wasn’t very formalized and so when I completed my fellowship I had zero publication again um partly it’s because of lack of structure so I never knew how to plan my day that oh I actually need to do some of this instead of writing so I just went to classes without any good purpose in mind and so even though at that time it wasn’t overwhelming it felt like I was doing a lot of busy work without any true output so um and at that time I felt somewhat defeated but realized that it’s not unique to me many academics who go through uh research training or some go into academia like academic clinicians and um they know they need to teach students or uh residents but they are also expected to publish uh to get promoted and so after like fourth or fifth year they realize I don’t really have a project or they have projects but papers keep getting rejected or they don’t know how to progress from the completed project to the written paper so that was like the struggle that that bowed off assistant professor but no associate professor or associate professor not getting promoted up to full professor because of this final piece of getting the project to the finish line

Dr. Shelley Meyer: okay wow that sounds like a lot so you took that unique experience and you got creative and created a solution tell us about that

Dr. Jia Ung: yes um so what I eventually realized is like the writing piece and I poured myself into you know because I’m English is not my first language so I thought okay maybe it’s just the lack of uh it’s an English language but after getting books it’s not just a grammar it was a whole structure it was a whole process that I had to learn and then eventually I learned that um you actually have to treat yourself as a professional writer and so as a professional writer you have to um work as a professional right it means right during work time not at the end of the day when your kids are in bed when your brain is not during pajama time and better pajama time and writing and wonder why you don’t enjoy writing or wonder why you don’t enjoy the work and why you can’t think clearly so I kind of switch my time I learned that then I learned like structures how do you how do you actually write how do you make it sound beautiful and fast and then like practice and drills for it and so I’ve created that system myself and realized um after two years I was able to write papers much quickly and it was good because it was getting into high impact journals especially just within our field at least so then I decided um let me help fellows at my institution and they I realized all the things I’ve learned wasn’t intuitive I’m like wow I didn’t know that things that I’ve learned through the two years and oh that’s amazing I didn’t realize so I wanted a bigger impact and said okay I want to get this out to more people and I um started created creating a YouTube channel to guide clinicians on how to publish papers particularly on the writing parts and the mistakes they need to avoid so that they don’t waste time down the road you know there’s certain things you have to do before writing so that the papers will eventually accept journals except the paper so I did that and um also started my own coaching business to coach clinicians on helping them how to get

Dr. Shelley Meyer: unstuck great yes that’s exactly what we want to talk about on this channel and this podcast is how to get unstuck so your website is uh publishedmd

Dr. Jia Ung: yes

Dr. Shelley Meyer: so anybody that is interested in learning more about that and about you know academic medicine and writing there’s a lot of great information on their I like your channel like your videos are good little chunks and tidbits that everybody needs well I would assume I mean I don’t I’m not in in that field but I would assume that they need um and it’s you make it very interesting and the visual is really good I think that’s great

Dr. Jia Ung: so I got feedback like I think the first two videos were maybe eight to ten minutes and I got feedback from my personal colleagues like I think it’s too long because uh because academic writing is heavy so they feel like after five minutes they can’t take it so I kind of cut it really short and punchy so most of my videos are usually three to five so like oh you just watch one video so you get one tip

Dr. Shelley Meyer: and yeah that makes it more digestible yeah you can handle that and go apply that one tip no I think it’s great and I think the coaching program sounds really good too so in you know as we had talked about before on this channel and podcast we’re talking about getting out of stuck positions and burnout and so your website and YouTube videos offer the solution in your field um what do you think of it like how do you keep good work life balance in your own life

Dr. Jia Ung: oh that’s always a tricky one

Dr. Shelley Meyer: it is a challenge

Dr. Jia Ung: it is a challenge but I none of my kids are older I realize a few things number one is when they are younger and you feel like you’re not productive and you’re trying your best and you still feel like you’re productive now that they’re bigger I realize that it is you’re not being unproductive instead I would reframe it as you are working on weights with weights like you go jogging you wear the weights you know like two pounds so that you is you’re slow but once you take off the weight once your kids are grown and you don’t need as much attention all of a sudden my productivity like skyrocketed because yeah I’ve been working at a different efficiency level uh compared to my peers with our kids so that that’s the first thing and second thing is um learn to outsource and these things I’ve learned to do a lot better now like now my laundry is completely outsourced

Dr. Shelley Meyer: means good for you I need to get there

Dr. Jia Ung: somebody pick so somebody picks up the laundry yeah and wash it and fold it and drop it off on Thursdays you know so every week I just have to prepare that so that’s like a big thing a luxury

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah

Dr. Jia Ung: yes I did I you know I took so long I was like oh maybe I should like look up and like oh I don’t watch your phone that was really good because the whole thing it takes a long time and uh um tip is the connection with the family and so important what I learned to do is to talk about my day with my kids yes I like tell them everything I will say oh today I saw a wonderful patient and how they have changed my life so that it’s not me and work it my work actually is really important to me and so now they can learn from mommy that that work is not a bad thing work actually is very fulfilling and so they can see that how I’m serving how I am changing lives so that’s one part and then I tell them good day it’s like oh my today my paper got accepted I got a grand grant I tell them how excited and so now they know that mommy is does research and so now when in in elementary school they start learning how to do research projects and how to write hooks in their paragraph you start talking to me about it so

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah it’s good

it is it builds a connection so don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about your day and so the big things that they learn in school they feel like oh I can actually connect to mommy about um about certain things

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah because they want to know what our days are like and sometimes we are just so tired and you know we just don’t feel like we can talk about it we ask them about their day but we don’t share ours so yeah and I think teaching them things from that you learn from your day that they can apply at school is a great idea and then there’s that connection

Dr. Jia Ung: yes and when you tell them a lot because you always do ask them anyway and you tell them on your day and some days you get so tired and you forget and they’ve learned that uh they’ll say I you asked me a lot my day but what about you how’s your day mommy so you train them that they actually would will be interested in other people’s life as well yes

Dr. Shelley Meyer: I think that’s great um and then just to kind of dial it back what do you think they’re from your colleagues or in your personal experience the biggest frustration that women in medicine are facing right now ?

Dr. Jia Ung: um the I think the biggest problem is the lack of control um control in options control in your time when you feel like you don’t have option and you feel like you’re out of control burnout happens that’s how I believe we’re not happy

Dr. Shelley Meyer: exactly

Dr. Jia Ung: yeah you feel frustrated and you can’t you know you are powerless

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah somebody else is setting the rules for you

Dr. Jia Ung: yes so um sometimes we have to get out of that role or get out of that mindset or shift by stepping outside and think okay what do I really want and um what do I wish to be wish to be and then reverse engineer it um look at what skills that you need to get to that level and you actually have to actually go a little bit further not do what you expected but do what you want to be then people will see you where you are like in a new role

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah

Dr. Jia Ung: and I think that that is one way uh to gain that control

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes that control is key and it you know the lack of control and the feeling stuck doesn’t always mean I’m not trying to spread the message on this you know podcaster channel that women have to leave their current positions because you don’t you can change what you’re experiencing like you said you can shift to become who you want to be in your current role and then good things can follow you just have to know where you want to be

Dr. Jia Ung: yes and I think that also is a few more things that um that are frustrating for women is they feel like they’re not valued like for example oh I wasn’t invited to be a committee here or how come there’s this opportunity I wasn’t invited and sometimes it’s really you haven’t really told the division chief or department

Dr. Shelley Meyer: that you actually wanted right

Dr. Jia Ung: yeah if you don’t tell them they assume that you’re too busy and I’ve experienced um every time when somebody doesn’t show up for grant rounds oh maybe they’re busy with your kids with that assumption so they may think you’re always too busy and they want they may want to protect you and your family and they’ll never give you the opportunity so if we don’t tell them they may not know it

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah we have to speak up for what we want negotiate for what we want and just discover our voice yeah well thanks so much for joining me tonight and letting us all hear what you’re doing and so the website again is publishedmd.com and the YouTube channel is the same name correct

Dr. Jia Ung: yes

Dr. Shelley Meyer: okay and I think you’re doing such great things and I really appreciate your time and letting us all know uh how we can and they can reach you is there a contact way to reach you on

Dr. Jia Ung: yes it’s the same as [email protected]

Dr. Shelley Meyer: great if anybody has any questions reach out there thanks so much for joining me and you have a good day

Dr. Jia Ung: thank you doctor

Dr. Shelley Meyer: okay thank you bye take care

 

Dr. Shelley Meyer: hey everyone I hope you enjoyed that episode I thought it was really interesting to hear about burnout and um all the different hats that women in academic medicine have to wear so if you liked it please like share like it like the video share it out and subscribe to the YouTube channel or if you’re listening on the pod on upon if you listen to the podcast please leave a review on apple podcast or Spotify or wherever you get your podcast from because that will help the channel and the podcast grow and if you want to help support my mission here to help women in medicine recover from burnout get out of situations or positions that are in burnout inducing and rediscover their love of medicine please consider joining me on my patreon page I will link the information um in the show notes and then in the description on the YouTube video I hope to see you or talk with you next Friday please leave me comments down below on the YouTube channel and if you have any questions just let me know thanks for joining me.