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Stephen Beeson, M.D.

Stephen Beeson, M.D., Founder and CEO of The Physician Effectiveness Project at, has met more than his share of burned-out physicians over the past 20 years. 

He’s also met plenty of physicians who still love their jobs despite the challenges of practicing medicine today. Those physicians tend to have two things in common: strong connections with patients and collaboration with colleagues.

“Physicians are really struggling with burnout and feeling like practicing medicine isn’t what they thought it would be,” he said. “We’re helping doctors connect and collaborate to provide extraordinary patient care and reconnect to what it is like to make an impact.”

Dr. Beeson, a San Diego-based family medicine physician, didn’t plan to make a career out of coaching, developing and training his fellow physicians. But he was encouraged by the success of his medical group’s early efforts, when patient engagement scores rose from the 6th to the 91st percentile through deliberate efforts to coach and support physicians.

He is the author of the national best-sellers “Practicing Excellence: A Physician’s Manual to Exceptional Healthcare,” and “Engaging Physicians: A Manual to Physician Partnership.” The Physician Effectiveness Project was founded to broaden efforts around physician coaching and skill-building. The Project taps technology, social networking and collaborative learning to provide physicians with tools to strengthen connections with patients and each other.

“When physicians see what it’s like to change the clinical encounter by using simple, time-neutral techniques, it often prompts them to share what they’ve learned with their colleagues,” he said. “When physicians begin exchanging ideas around getting better and sharing stories about the skills they are trying, a coaching culture can emerge … It is a revitalizing experience for physicians and patients alike.”

Practicing medicine today is increasingly demanding, and many physicians Dr. Beeson coaches are deeply troubled by negative patient comments.

“There is no physician I know who communicates poorly with patients intentionally. Until recently, medical schools didn’t routinely cover patient engagement,” he said. “Physicians are accountable for things many of them never learned, and we’re helping them focus on skills they know are important.”

More than 10,000 physicians to date have participated in the Project, including LG Health Physicians. In 2017, physicians throughout Penn Medicine will follow an online skill-building approach focused on physician vitality and well-being via patient connection, team collaboration and organizational trust.

The curriculum targets key drivers of physician satisfaction, Dr. Beeson said. That satisfaction comes from strong connections to colleagues, having a voice in shaping the group’s future and providing the kind of care of which they are immensely proud.

“Physicians who love what they do are deeply connected to their patients – not to their diagnoses or problems, but to who they are, what they do, and what matters to them,” he said. “We help physicians rediscover the best of what medicine has to offer and how they can contribute to better care in a way that allows them to love practicing medicine again.”

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