I would promote more self-compassion. Getting to know yourself better and being true to yourself are so important to life satisfaction. When you have a good sense of self, it’s so much easier to spread compassion to other individuals and live life magnanimously and with benevolence. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Anthony Quinn. […]
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Anthony Quinn. He credits his interest in psychiatry to a passion and desire to form meaningful connections with other people. Shortly after graduating from the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Dr. Quinn served in multiple medical director positions which he believes reinforced his experience of enhancing patient satisfaction and improving patient outcomes. Dr. Quinn currently supervises over 35 highly trained professionals as Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health Solutions, a mental health group dedicated to making quality mental healthcare and innovative technology accessible to individuals experiencing social, emotional, mental or behavioral challenges.
- Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I consider compassion to be a natural part of my childhood experience growing up in country in Mississippi. I grew up in a town where everyone knew my grandparents and I watched my grandparents lend guidance and wisdom to a community of people. I initially developed an interest in surgery after spending countless hours shadowing at the UMC Trauma Center. The traumatic gunshot wound and knife stabbing cases provide an adrenaline rush and I have such a huge admiration for the surgery residents and supervising surgeons; however, it was my experience in the primary care outpatient setting that sparked my fascination with different aspects of Psychiatry. The natural urge to address the concern for the mental and emotional sufferings of others was too strong to resist.
- Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting story I can remember is working with a patient who experienced delusions. Delusions are described as a fixed beliefs that conflict with reality. The patient had delusions related to seeing aliens beam down on McDonalds. He was obsessed with fries from McDonalds and although he was out of touch with reality at times, he always appeared joyful and lighthearted. It became clear after several meetings with the patient that the aliens he mentioned were from the alien invasion virtual scene that previously played at the Fremont Experience. Interactions like these prove how a person can have joy from the most simple things in life.
- Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
The most humorous mistake I can remember is reporting the wrong leg for surgical removal during a psychiatry rotation. I mistakenly reported that the patient was due for left leg removal when the patient was actually scheduled for a right leg removal. This mistake would have cost me dearly had I been on surgery rotation so I was fortunate to be on psychiatry rotation and I was able to identify the mistake prior to completing my documentation. The biggest take-away is to make certain that you double check and verify that you have the correct leg prior to staffing a patient case involving amputation with another healthcare provider.
- None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have to thank my colleague and mentor Dr. Sylvia Naseath. I met Dr. Naseath while working at my first private outpatient clinic. I credit Dr. Naseath for her willingness to share skills, knowledge, and expertise. She acts as the ultimate positive role model and she always demonstrates a positive attitude along with a clear and evident passion for providing compassionate care. One memorable moment I can share is the time when Dr. Naseath helped lead the charge for our mental health group in response to the 1 October tragedy. I watched as Dr. Naseath showed great commitment to providing guidance to colleagues and interns with excellent leadership skills in the midst of crisis and devastation. Dr. Naseath taught me how to provide effective care and successfully handle disruptive and unexpected disasters.
- What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
I would suggest maintaining good morning and bedtime routines. I find that setting realistic goals the night before sets me on a good path the following day. In the morning, I consider how I what to feel, what thoughts I want to have, and revisit what goals I want to achieve that day. This process allows me to set the thermometer for my thoughts and feelings so I can have more control over negative thoughts and feelings instead of waiting for triggers to occur and being less proactive and more reactive.
- What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Job satisfaction is one of the main keys to success for any healthcare group. Showing appreciation for staff and employees from all levels of the company creates a positive culture and motivates others with acknowledgment of the ongoing effort and initiatives of others. Defining clear roles gives workers a purpose and identity. I believe creating a fantastic work culture has so much to do with creating an enabling environment which allows employees to ensure they can perform at their best.
- Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
It’s difficult to narrow down to five principles that are most important to mental health and mental wellness. There are some principles that I have seen patients practice that appear to be effective:
- Letting Go- The art of letting go has been described as an invitation to relinquish unhealthy attachments to events, ideas, possessions, and minor irritations. Giving up on struggling to hold on to meaningless issues creates space for powerful opportunities to move forward. It may be difficult to separate what things in our lives that are meant to stay from the paralyzing factors that we need to walk away from. Consider moving away from your comfort zone if you feel yourself getting stuck in a place where you don’t belong.
- Stay Curious- There are several important mental health related benefits of staying curious throughout life including increased dopamine release (the feel good hormone), greater if satisfaction, increased work performance, and stronger and deeper relationships with others.
- Know Your Value- Knowing your value and worth can be directly tied to an individual’s level of self-esteem. The path to self-love and awareness requires that we teach others how to treat us by setting the example with how we treat ourselves. Attracting the right kind of people who will value and respect you involves first creating small goals that add value to your life and then being intentional about making enough time to follow through on those goals and maintaining boundaries with others in order to avoid unnecessary distractions.
- Patience and Persistence- Patience needs constant nurturing. Practice patience with yourself, with others, and with life. Sometimes waiting for what you want from life is as much of a problem as the attention and energy to the frustration with the waiting process. Practicing patience and persistence can shift your attention away from the frustration and allow more room for peace and control along with the confidence that you are in charge of designing your future.
- You are the Most Difficult Person- There’s no more problematic person in our life that ourself. The ability to notice your reactions as they are occurring and to recognize that true freedom comes in the form of inner freedom is crucial to emotional well being.
- Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
In the retirement stage, individuals may experience physical and cognitive decline. This can create challenges with decreased mobility or chronic pain and challenges in both daily living and major life transitions. Individuals may experience some degree of a level of mortality during this later life stage. Retirement may be a dramatic change in addition to possibly seeing peers around the same age pass away. This is a time when people often review their life’s achievements. A few coping strategies to consider are finding positive ways to reminisce, seeking closure and addressing unresolved guilt, and reapplying wisdom learned in other contexts and maintaining autonomy in decision making rather than relinquishing tasks to others. Isolation is discouraged as revisiting past memories can be a more productive experience to revisit past memories with loved ones around. It’s important to forgive oneself if experiencing significant feelings of guilt and to make amends with others if appropriate in order to reduce guilt. In addition, it’s important for individuals in this life stage to draw upon experiences and skills learned in earlier adulthood in order to combat the threat of loss of independence. Skills such as note taking, effective communication, and proactive planning mixed with newer learning experiences with cognitive exercises can help prevent the negative feelings of frustration and despair some older adults face.
- How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
Adolescent challenges to focus on for growth and development include developing a growing capacity for abstract thought, developing an ability for deeper moral reasoning, and learning how to delay gratification. These skills and abilities can be achieved by demonstrating the use of logical operations in schoolwork, beginning to think about a few long term plans, and increasing thoughts about more global concepts such as justice, history, and politics.
- Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
One book that definitely had a significant impact is Why We Get Sick by Randolph Nesse and George William. The book involves a newer way of thinking about illness from an evolutionary medicine perspective. I was mainly intrigued by the ideas of evolutionary explanations for emotions, especially negative emotions. The book describes that brain changes associated with feeling nervous may reflect the normal operation of normal mechanisms and that anxiety has evolved to protect us against future dangers and other kinds of threats. For example, if you are alone in the jungle and you hear a branch break behind a bush, the flight of fight reaction including rapid heartbeat, deep breathing, sweating, and an increase in blood glucose and epinephrine levels could mean the difference between escaping injury or not. Danger is not necessarily around every corner in our current societal norms so the level of anxiety experienced by many people who are stressed may be out of proportion to the level of danger involved. I can relate to this principle from personal experience when marketing and making business presentations. I will consider that fact that the level of danger does not match the level of worry I’m experiencing in that moment and focus on anxiety relief techniques such as curling my toes in my shoes to release some of the negative energy in a manner so that no one else can tell I have a certain level of anxiety.
- You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would promote more self-compassion. Getting to know yourself better and being true to yourself are so important to life satisfaction. When you have a good sense of self, it’s so much easier to spread compassion to other individuals and live life magnanimously and with benevolence.
- Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” Socrates
Many people in the medical field can relate to being drilled with questions during rounds in the clinic and the hospital. Many times you find yourself just trying to survive with a good evaluation before the start of the next clinical rotation. Training in the medical field can include countless hours engaging in learning with the use of the Socratic method. This line of questioning entails being asked questions in a manner to stimulate thinking in a major way and to question automatic assumptions. One of my lessons related to the quote involves changing my study methods. At the start of medical school, there was a fear of failure so strong that I forced myself to avoid taking enough study breaks. I didn’t learn my best study style method until the later part of my first year in medical school. For some reason, I started listening to lecture recordings, and I was then able to do a better job of retaining information. At that point I thought to myself, “How did I go so long without even realizing I didn’t know this about myself”. Learning became less tedious and more enjoyable when I realized I’m more of an auditory learner instead of a visual learner.