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More about Steve Adelman, MD

As a physician (board-certified both in addiction medicine and in psychiatry), a medical leader, and a trained, board certified, can-do coach, I have had the privilege of providing direct and engaged assistance to more than one thousand health professionals and hundreds of health care organizations.

Read on if you’re interested in any of the following:  Core Values & Essential Qualities; Education; Career in Psychiatry & Medical Leadership; Coaching; Humble Origins, Accomplishments, & Mentors.

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Core Values & Essential Qualities

I am a client-centered problem-solver, and I love being of service to those I am qualified to assist.  Although it is important to be careful and thorough in order to get things right, my direct and spirited approach to this sacred work aims to avoid cumbersome, roundabout, and unnecessary side excursions.

Being helpful to you and those you serve is my passion. I am truly grateful that I have been able to develop the ability to be helpful to others. 

Thankfully, I have benefitted from a stable upbringing, a superb education, many positive and growth-promoting life experiences, excellent training, and several rewarding career opportunities.  This fortunate mélange propels me to be of service – that’s what matters most.

Education

I received excellent training in psychiatry and addiction psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital.  Then, and now, I have strived to learn from experts of every stripe and to fuse their wisdom into an informed, non-doctrinaire, eclectic approach that serves patients and clients.  My medical school training at the University of Pennsylvania was delightfully patient-centered and this resonated with my strong humanistic tendencies. I graduated with Highest Honors in Biology from Harvard College, where I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Career in Psychiatry & Medical Leadership

I first worked as a full-time faculty member in Psychiatry at UMASS Medical School. There I directed the outpatient clinic, supervised residents and medical students, won a teaching award, and developed expertise in addiction medicine as a nationally-funded faculty fellow.

In the 90s I moved to the well-regarded staff model HMO known as the Harvard Community Health Plan, which gave rise to Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates (now Atrius Health). I helped launch this ambulatory, multispecialty group practice as a founding trustee; served on its board for a decade; led the Department of Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine for 13 years; successfully chaired a CEO search; and became intimately acquainted with the mounting challenges of practicing clinicians.

In 2013 I was named Director of Physician Health Services, Inc. At PHS I launched a unique coaching program for physicians who manifest problematic workplace behavior, grew the volume of self-referrals, and established a reputation as a thought leader in the domains of physician burnout and professional coaching.

I led the Department of Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine there for 13 years, successfully chaired a CEO search, and, became intimately acquainted with the challenges of practicing clinicians in our large multisite, multidisciplinary, multi-payor, ambulatory group practice.

In 2013 I became the director of Physician Health Services, Inc. I launched PHS’s unique coaching program for physicians who manifest problematic workplace behavior, grew the volume of self-referrals, and established a reputation as a thought leader in the domains of physician burnout and professional coaching.

Coaching

In 2016, I completed an intensive training program in coaching at the College of Executive Coaching. I have continued to collaborate closely with leading figures in the physician coaching world and published this piece on coaching in the New England Journal of Medicine’s Catalyst, Innovations in Care Delivery in 2017.  I have utilized developmental coaching interventions to assist numerous physicians suffering from professional burnout. I created a unique program to provide structured, targeted interventions involving the workplace that has revived the careers of many physicians with problematic workplace behavior.  I have helped several physicians launch their own careers as coaches.  While serving as the director of Physician Health Services, Inc., I envisioned, developed, and produced the Medical Professionals Empowerment Program (MedPEP.org), a unique and highly-rated podcast that documents the educational coaching journey of Dr. Marie Curious, a primary care doctor afflicted by burnout.  I co-founded the Culture of Coaching in Healthcare group on LinkedIn. I received board certification in coaching (BCC) from the non-profit Center for Credentialing & Education in June, 2021.

Humble Origins, Accomplishments, & Mentors

I grew up in a small rowhouse in Philadelphia, where my parents taught in the public schools. My education at Harvard was funded by multiple scholarships and I graduated with highest honors in 5 semesters. Following college, I lived abroad for three years, worked in aviation and farming, and decided to commit myself to a career in medicine and psychiatry. At McLean Hospital, I was chief resident, and I have been fortunate to collaborate with Roger Weiss, MD, both as my addiction psychiatry mentor and co-author of several publications. My mentors at UMASS medical school included Paul Barreira, MD; Aaron Lazare, MD; and, Mai-Lan Rogoff, MD. I continue to play a role at UMASS as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and I am a Consultant in Psychiatry in the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

It was a great honor to lead a physician health program with the retired board chair, Edward Khantzian, MD, a giving and compassionate role model who pioneered the Self-Medication Hypothesis of Addiction. My many mentors, friends, and colleagues in professional coaching are showcased in our MedPEP.org podcast.

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