Wellness Beyond Work with Dr. Frances Mei Hardin

podcast March 18, 2024

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Life’s challenges are tough enough for many to bear.   Likewise, when knowledge is shared with harshness, it can add an extra burden to our daily struggles. Learning should be a journey that inspires and uplifts, not one that weighs us down with criticism and pressure. Accordingly, some educators often perceive the idea that toughness and harshness are necessary components of the learning journey. However, we must realize that this can actually make learning harder and more stressful, especially in the field of medicine.


Therefore, we must recognize that people have their own challenges. Consequently, encouraging them to feel better about themselves can make a big difference. By embracing empathy and kindness, we can create a learning environment that not only equips future physicians with the knowledge and skills, but also nurtures their well-being. Let us work together to build a future where medical education uplifts and inspires, rather than burdens and diminishes. Remember, residency is a vessel of learning and growth, but it should not come at the cost of our well-being. Prioritizing mental health is not a luxury, but a necessity.


Dr. Frances Mei Hardin is a former college athlete, otolaryngologist, and advocate for physician wellness. Drawing from her experience as a former college athlete, Dr. Hardin understands the importance of resilience, determination, and teamwork in achieving goals. As an ENT surgeon, she brings precision, expertise, and compassionate care to her patients, particularly in the specialized field of head and neck surgery. Driven by her passion for physician wellness, Dr. Hardin created the Rethinking Residency platform to provide support and resources for resident physicians navigating the challenges of medical training. Through her speaking engagements, writings, and advocacy efforts, she strives to create a culture of support and understanding within the medical community.


In this episode with Dr. Frances Mei Hardin, we will learn from the first ENT specialist to join the podcast and discover how we can advocate for healthcare professionals by addressing their mental health and well-being. Dr. Harden shares how her residency training exposed her to a culture of maltreatment and abuse, contrasting sharply with the supportive environment she had experienced in athletics. Such experiences drive her to build a platform that will empower trainees to overcome adversity and prioritize their well-being. Tune in as we explore the challenges faced by healthcare professionals and discuss actionable strategies for nurturing a healthier and more supportive work environment.


“A person who’s working in a traumatic work environment over several years is going to arguably not learn as well as they would have if the environment was slightly less malignant.” – Dr. Frances Mei Hardin


Topics Covered:

(00:00:36) Introducing our special guest, Dr. Frances Mei Hardin.

(00:04:01) What led Dr. Hardin to pursue a career in ENT medicine?

(00:05:52) What’s it like to be away from home at 13?

(00:08:40) A sense of community and social skills

(00:11:11) The purpose of creating Rethinking Residency

(00:17:45) Advertisement: Are you prepared for life’s unexpected challenges? Dr. Stephanie Pearson and her team of skilled advisors at Pearson Ravitz are here to help you guard your most valuable asset. Go to to make sure you are protected today.

(00:19:50) To be callous, but not bitter.

(00:21:22) The significance of a supportive learning environment

(00:24:06) Dr. Harden’s collegiate rowing career  

(00:27:21) Not easy but doable

(00:30:24) Final TimeOut with Dr. Frances Mei Hardin: Why is it important for you to be more than an ENT surgeon?

(00:32:00) Where to connect with Dr. Frances Mei Hardin


Key Takeaways: 


“You pick the bodily fluids that you can tolerate.” – Dr. Frances Mei Hardin


“Rethinking Residency is meant to be an effective and neutral resource, a safe place for 

promising young surgeon.” – Dr. Frances Mei Hardin


“Some people struggle, some people excel, some people are loved, some people are hated, but to make it through, you have to be callous, but you can’t be bitter.” – Dr. Derrick Burgess


“I do prefer to be taught things in a way that doesn’t involve fear, intimidation, and bullying.” – Dr. Frances Mei Hardin


“When you look back over all the things that you had to overcome as a resident, it’s almost like how did I make it through? And I know in my instances, it was by the grace of God that I made it through.” – Dr. Derrick Burgess


“The whole point of interpersonal effectiveness skills is that you can get what you want while maintaining a positive relationship with the person.” – Dr. Frances Mei Hardin


“I want to be a different kind of surgeon and I care about making a softer world for the next generation.” – Dr. Frances Mei Hardin


Connect with Frances Mei Hardin:






Connect with Dr. Derrick Burgess:








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