Periodically, I will be interviewing a physician that will give you tips to enjoy medicine, find fulfillment, relieve stress, and more. Today seemed like the perfect day to host Dr. Corinna Muller since we are in the series of creating your ideal future. And she has done just that. I met Dr. Muller - Corinna- around 2012 when she began working in a hospital-owned MFM practice in Alaska. She was gracious, kind, and helpful to me, the residents, and the patients we served. Now, as a full-time owner of her own maternal fetal medicine practice, musician, podcaster, and author, she has a lot of wisdom and experience to share. Join us in our written interview.
Corinna, how in the world did you go from finishing MFM training to owning your own practice, coaching, podcasting, and now, writing a book?
I fell in love with the concept of physician coaching after completing a group coaching program for physician women in 2019. It helped me immensely—knowing that there were women just like me with the same struggles, triumphs and challenges in the field of medicine that were there to support one another in achieving a goal was so comforting. In discovering that many others in the medical field may benefit from learning from my experiences in medicine, I decided to pursue my coaching certification through the Physician Coaching Institute (PCI) and learned so much about myself, and the physicians I would eventually coach in the process.
Podcasting was something I started near the end of my coach training with PCI with the creation of “Right Brain Rounds.” The concept of this podcast was to promote other physician coaches and to discuss ways that people can “escape” from the stressors of medicine or life in general -- in creative or “right-brained” ways. As a professionally trained flutist, I have always relied on music (performance and listening to music) to comfort me when I am stressed and it has been a wonderful creative outlet for me since I was a child. I wanted to explore what helps other physicians de-stress in their lives!
I have always felt that music set the stage for many successful habits in my life that have helped me achieve goals. The concepts of discipline, practice, repetition and performance are things that can be applied to athletics, business, medicine and many other fields of study. To become a master in your craft, you have to have a plan and PRACTICE that craft frequently.
Can you tell us what it took for you to take the leap and start your own practice? What was that like?
I had a major life event—I broke my leg and had to take a mental and physical pause from my daily grind as a full time core faculty/teaching position as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician. It was probably one of the most challenging times of my life as I definitely felt limited in my ability to be a productive physician, felt useless to my work team, and relied on everyone around me to help me because I was non-ambulatory for nine weeks. I couldn’t do much to help myself, and had to rely entirely on others to be “productive.” In taking the time to step back from a busy clinical situation I imagined what I wanted the remainder of my career path to look like. I decided that moving back home to Alaska near my family and starting my own practice would give me more autonomy in the medical field and that I could express my individualistic approach to my patients in a high risk field in a different way by having more control of my clinical practice decisions. I had many supportive physicians and medical administrators in Alaska who helped guide me along the way to create the practice of my dreams, and that was the biggest aspect of the decision that helped me step into the fear of taking a leap to start my own practice.
What helped you stay the course during challenges?
Believing in myself and my resilience. I knew that I had overcome challenges throughout my career and personal life by going back to my core values—and acting in alignment with those in making decisions on how to move forward through tough times. I think relying on my primary stress reliever (MUSIC) during times of stress helped me to escape or even meditate while playing my flute to relax and enjoy something non-medical or work-related.
What is the Ottava method?
I created the Ottava Method of self-coaching to help ANYONE achieve goals in a stepwise fashion.
Ottava is an Italian musical term that means “octave” based on the eight notes of the musical scale. To “8va” a written musical passage in a score means to take it up one octave. There are many instances that require a musician to “8va” during a performance and it is very common to play the higher notes when playing the flute or piccolo.
The Ottava Method combines musical, business and coaching principles in an 8-step process that helps people take their lives up an octave!
Which of those 8 is the most favorite for you to discuss?
Practice. The practice of medicine. Repetitively practicing a procedure or musical passage. Practicing a gymnastics or dance routine. Practicing a presentation for a large conference or business proposal. Practicing allows one to overcome Impostor Syndrome or saboteur thoughts that may hinder forward progress.
Can you give the readers tips about practice?
Practicing ANYTHING can allow one to change the steps to achieve a goal and perfect the latter attempts to achieve a result. If something doesn’t work, you can evaluate the rate-limiting step and change your approach. Learning from mistakes or failures allows one to “fail forward” and attempt a new approach to solving problems or being successful in any endeavor.
Tell everyone where they can learn more.
They can learn more at www.ottavacreative.com My book, the Ottava Method will be released on March 7, 2023.
Thank you so much, Corinna.
To the amazing physicians out there reading this, I want to have you reflect on what she said. "I imagined what I wanted the remainder of my career path to look like." - She was forced to pause. What if you opted to pause and consider it proactively? What would be the next step you need to take? Join me next week as we start to make actionable plans.
Until then, have a joy-filled week! Tonya
Now is a great time to see how I work with family medicine residency programs to help physicians enjoy their chosen careers. Learn more here.