Shawn C. Jones, MD

Physician Burnout Expert, Author, Coach

Shawn C. Jones, MD is an ear, nose and throat physician and head and neck surgeon who was board certified in Otolaryngology in 1994. He is the senior and founding member of his specialty group, Purchase ENT, in Paducah, KY and is a member of the gratis faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in the Department of Otolaryngology.

Service has always been important to Dr. Jones. He joined the U.S. Army Reserve 1983 and served on Active Duty in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991 as a Captain in the Medical Corps. He has also given back on overseas medical mission trips to Romania, Kenya, and Honduras.

Closer to home, Dr. Jones has served his community by being an outspoken champion of local anti-smoking ordinances in Paducah and an advocate for a smoke-free Kentucky. He has served on the board of trustees of the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) for over 15 years, including a term as president for the 2011-2012 year. In 2016, he received the KMA’s Distinguished Service Award and the Community Connector Leadership Award.

Dr. Jones spends time with his wife Evelyn, a dermatologist, and their three adult children. He is an elder in his church and enjoys reading biographies and books on history, spirituality, and the Bible.

A Journey of Loss and Discovery

These days, Shawn C. Jones, MD is enjoying his thriving practice, service to the community, and good work-life balance, but there was a time when life wasn’t so rosy. Beginning in medical school and continuing through residency and his early years as a surgeon, Dr. Jones began to experience a slow drain of joy in his work, increased stress and irritability, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. One morning he woke up and realized he didn’t feel anything anymore. He had lost his connection to his heart. That’s when he knew he needed to make a change, and it sent him on a path towards his homecoming.

Through a combination of structured therapy, self-reflection, and a newfound love of Renaissance art, Dr. Jones found the way back to his heart and himself. He rediscovered beauty and its ability to revive the human spirit and tap into emotions.

Now Dr. Jones shares his story of burnout and the recovery – what he calls redemption – that followed in order to inspire the medical students, residents, and physicians who are at risk of neglecting their own hearts as they follow their calling in medicine. Looking beyond the individual experience, Dr. Jones is also an advocate for making changes to the system so that it no longer fosters burnout among the individuals it trains but fosters compassion instead.

Mission Work

Over the past decade, one of my goals has been to participate in a mission trip to a developing country at least once a year. So far, I have traveled to Romania, Honduras, and Kenya. My experiences in these countries remind me why I became a physician. The simplicity of medicine in developing countries is beautiful, and it’s as simple as it is primarily because there is no intrusion in the physician-patient relationship. There are no significant regulations, no excessive demands for time, no administrative burdens, no relative value units (RVUs), no computers, and no significant intrusion by corporate structure. When working in those countries, I am completely free to do what I think is best. Those places and my experiences there help me find meaning in my work, even when I’m back home.

While abroad, my ability to provide services might be limited by what resources are available, but if that does happen, those limitations can often be overcome with sacrifice, ingenuity, and—above all—care.

I say “care” because when there is simply no way to get something done (which happens more often in developing countries such as Honduras), the patients still seem to intuitively know that you truly care.

These trips help me find and fill a reservoir of caring that renews my passion and resilience, which in turn allows me to find even greater purpose in my practice at home.

Are you suffering from physician burnout?