Podcast Episode 02 – Leadership Lessons from a Surgeon General with Vice Admiral Forrest Faison

physician leader

Episode 02 – Up to 80% of physicians report symptoms of burnout.  A lot of that has to do with inadequate leadership from hospital leaders.  Did you know that hospitals run by physicians have better safety ratings, better patient satisfaction scores, and are more profitable on average?  So, what are you waiting for?  Are you ready to be a physician leader?

American healthcare is crying out for physicians to step up into leadership roles.  Here’s the thing: any physician can be a leader.  The real truth, if you’re a physician, you ARE a physician leader!

Patients expect you to lead them, and your staff will look to you for advice and support as well.  In this episode, Vice Admiral Forrest Faison offers us a master class in physician leadership.  Over several decades of leading through war, pandemics, and incredible volatility, he has learned a lot of lessons that he shares with us here.

If you think you aren’t capable of being a physician leader, think again!  Leaders are made, not born.  So, go make yourself a leader!


If you don’t have consensus, your vision only lasts until you leave, and that’s not how sustainable change occurs.  You have to cast the vision for your team.

 – Vice Admiral Forrest Faison

More wisdom from Vice Admiral Faison to help you be the physician leader you want to be: click here.

physician leader

Featured online community: Military HPSP Students and Physicians

This Facebook group is exclusive to military physicians and students of all branches.  Prospective students are welcome to join as well.  Members of the group offer support, encouragement, resources, knowledge, and experience to each other in mutual support of their desired.  If you’re a military student or physician, or if you’re interested in a great career in military medicine, make sure to check out this group!

Click to download for free!

Free resource: 5 Critical Tools for Physician Leaders

Show times

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 2:32 – Meet Vice Admiral Forrest Faison, the 38th U.S. Navy Surgeon General.
  • 3:10 – Admiral Faison talks about the most impactful times in his career.
  • 4:42 – We discuss the challenges of being the surgeon general.
  • 5:37 – The difference between clinical medicine and executive medicine
  • 7:08 – Dr. Faison’s “accidental” move into executive medicine.
  • 8:08 – Leaving clinical medicine was a hard choice but offered some new opportuities.
  • 9:29 – Admiral Faison discusses how being a prior clinician gave him credibility once he transitioned to executive medicine.
  • 10:51 – Competence is the critical cornerstone to establishing your authority as a leader.
  • 12:29 – You’re only as good as your presence.  He shares a great story about a time when an intern showed up in the “wrong uniform.”
  • 14:10 – You have to have a good team backing you up, or you can’t accomplish your mission.
  • 15:25 – The challenges and opportunities that come with having high staff turnover can actually be a benefit to the organization.
  • 17:20 – How do you motivate people as a physician leader?
  • 20:09 – A boss has the title.  A leader has the people.
  • 21:03 – How do you motivate someone that just isn’t quite getting the job done?
  • 23:27 – Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand and set expectations.
  • 23:55 – Leadership during a crisis requires management of highly complex issues.
  • 27:55 – Is it leader’s job to seek consensus, or to actively mold consensus?
  • 30:27 – Leading during a crisis isn’t harder than leading during peacetime.  They both come with unique challenges.
  • 31:49 – Admiral Faison shares the best leadership advice he ever got.
  • 33:27 – The best lesson he ever got in a 30 year career was actually during his fourth year of medical school.  A matter of life and death.
  • 38:02 – If you want to be ready for a leadership role, you need to spend time preparing, and you need to do it for the right reason.
  • 41:05 – Blossom where you’re planted!
  • 42:07 – Dr. Faison shares his parting wisdom for an early career physician looking to transition to leadership some day.
  • 45:17 – The free download this week is called, “Creating a Personal Mission Statement.”  Download using the link above.
  • 46:35 – Featured online community: Military HPSP Students and Physicians.


Go to episode 3


Full Disclosure: Some of the links to the resources listed above may be affiliate links, which means that I will receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. But it doesn’t cost you anything extra—it’s just a way to show you appreciate what we do here. Thanks for this.

Comments (6)

  • Dr. Lacey has done an incredible of selecting guests and interviewing them. The variety of perspectives from accomplished people makes the podcasts continually fascinating!! Keep ‘em coming!

    • Steve-

      Thanks so much for the kind review! I love getting a chance to learn from these incredibly accomplished individuals. Hopefully other people get the same experience from the podcast.

  • Amazing content, Brent! Very well done! The flow and organization of your website is flawless! I so enjoy listening to your podcast! Mahalo!

    • Aloha! Thank you so much for the support! I’m glad you‘re liking it! It’s a lot easier to do good content when you have great guests that are willing to come on. I’ve been so blessed by the wonderful people that have agreed to be interviewed!

  • Vice Admiral Forrest Faison

    Thanks for the privilege and opportunity to participate. This is a great program you are doing! Well done shipmate!

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