Imagine a world where women physicians reach their full potential and thrive at work and at home.

About – My Story

I was drawn to medicine for the reasons so many physicians are—to help others. I loved patient care. And yet I found that the health care system was a barrier to connecting with patients and to providing what I considered to be safe, high-quality care. I worked hard to compensate, really hard. Eventually I hit a wall and couldn’t go on. I didn’t know why but I knew I needed to leave medicine. At the time, leaving didn’t feel like a choice, but the only option I could see to save myself.

I became a freelance writer and focused on the problems plaguing the health care system and ways to fix them, in part out of a need to understand what had led me to leave clinical medicine. Years into my writing career I found an answer. Burnout. I didn’t share that realization right away, and I carried shame for years, thinking that my decision to leave reflected some weakness on my part. I enjoyed my work as a writer, but in a way I was hiding, and I wasn’t following my true passion of helping others. 

I finally reached out for help when I found myself struggling as the newly divorced mom of two. I hired a coach who helped me gain confidence and tackle my new responsibilities one by one. She helped me reconsider my professional goals. After working together for a while, she asked me a simple question. “Why have you never written about your experience with burnout and leaving clinical medicine? It might help other people who are going through the same thing.”

I was VERY resistant. Why would I expose what felt weak and shameful?

With my coach’s help, I began to see that it took courage to leave what was no longer working and to believe I could make a new life for myself. Eventually I did share my experience and many, many physicians have since shared theirs with me. (See my post on this NPR health blog for more on that.)

My coach did not make decisions for me or tell me what to do. She created a safe space for me to take a breath and become aware of my blind spots and mindset “brakes,” those places where my beliefs were holding me back from living a really full, satisfying, and whole life. With that awareness I was able to identify what I really wanted, see where I had some options, and take steps to create a career and a life I love. Working with a coach changed my life and the trajectory of my career.

I was inspired to become a certified coach when I saw how effective coaching can be in helping physicians set and achieve goals, regain balance, and mitigate the pressures of working within the current health care system. Being a coach, I’ve come full circle and am again following my true passion of helping others.

I continue to advocate for practice- and system-level change through my writing and consulting work, because addressing the issues that drive burnout is foundational. At the same time, I help women physicians find their true passion, overcome obstacles, and create lives that are more balanced, joyful, and doable.

I’ve chosen to focus on helping women physicians because I know personally the often-rocky journey that many navigate every day to do their best at home and at work. Through 1:1 and group coaching, I help women physicians harness their superpowers and navigate their way to a life that works so they can truly thrive.

I’d love to chat to see if I can help you. Contact me to set up a conversation.

“Working with Diane Shannon and seeing the impact she has by sharing her story is inspiring. She is teaching and helping others in a kind and compassionate manner, something we all benefit from.”

Sara Poplau, Operations Director, Office of Professional Worklife and Institute for Professional Worklife, Minneapolis, MN

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The Challenges Women Physicians Face: What’s Needed to Shift from Striving to Thriving.

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Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH, PCC

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Photography by Julia Snider and Kira M. Shannon

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