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Clark Gaither, MD, FAAFP

Clark Gaither, MD, FAAFP

I am a board certified family physician in private practice in Goldsboro, NC. I have been in the full time practice of medicine for the past 22 years.

This is my website, Dr. Burnout. I blog, produce podcasts and post them here. They are not just about change, but about Reigniting With Passion And Purpose, a metamorphosis of the mind, body, emotions and spirit.

My primary focus is to help transform the lives of individuals who feel they are burned out by retooling their mindset for success and unleashing their creative potential.

If you feel you are merely existing rather than living, laboring through work you detest where your true passions can not be expressed or where your talents can not be developed or constructively explored, then this is the site for you. If you want to restore balance in your life and return joy and pleasure to the everyday practice of medicine then please keep reading.

The Power of Reigniting With Passion and Purpose


I am a recovering alcoholic. I hit my rocky bottom years ago. My life had become completely unmanageable. I put my career in jeopardy and was ruinously close to losing everything for which I had worked so hard. This was the first great hurdle I had to overcome.

My sobriety date is January 23rd, 1990, the day I went to a 28 day inpatient treatment program for alcoholism. There, I achieved something that for so long had eluded me – sobriety. Recovery took longer and required a transformation of my mental, emotional, physical and spirit realms.

I have been in continuous sobriety since my sobriety date. I have learned, and continue to learn, life’s lessons as time goes by – what works and what doesn’t. Living life on life’s terms is a hard lesson to learn. Some never do. But, it is the key to happiness, health, prosperity and success using the natural talents and abilities that we have been given.

I have remained sober for the past 24 years. Little did I realize this was just the beginning of my transformation. There was much more in the way of personal disappointment and turmoil on the horizon. Though, I was unable to see it at the time and was wholly unprepared for it when it arrived. Professional burnout came to be the second great hurdle I would have to face.

All of the years I have spent in the practice of medicine have not been great years. Medicine has been good to me and I believe I am good at the everyday practice of medicine. Yet, I have always felt as though something was missing. Have you ever felt this way?

I enjoyed my work when I first began my career. I was very thankful for having such a great job. Still, I had never felt as though the profession fit me just right or that I fit medicine just right. Does this sound familiar?

The best way I can explain what this felt like to me is by way of an example. As you know, what we do day-in and day-out requires the use of a lot of exam gloves. Over the years I have tried on countless myriad gloves in various sizes from an array of manufacturers composed of various materials – latex, PVC, nitrile, synthetic rubber, etc. I have tried them all.

To date, none of them have ever felt as though they fit my hands perfectly. I wear them and I can always get the job done while wearing them. But, this “not quite right feeling” is emblematic of how I have felt for the past 23 years in the practice of medicine.

I have never been able to shake that feeling. In spite of feeling this way I put my head down and worked hard for many years. I was able to accomplish a lot and succeed in many areas of medicine as a clinician, speaker, volunteer and teacher.

I was even fortunate enough to be named Family Physician of The Year in 2002 by the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians. All the while feeling like I was meant for some other purpose.

This feeling spilled over into my practice. Although it took many years, I developed a dissatisfaction with my job. I came to feel emotionally drained most all of the time. I couldn’t wait to get off work and lived for the weekends. At the same time, I dreaded going back in on Monday mornings.

Ever increasing patient care mandates, unreasonable care guidelines, rule changes from government agencies and insurers, rapidly increasing costs, malpractice concerns, loss of autonomy when making decisions on behalf of my patients, time constraints during patient encounters, having to manage an increasing number of morbidities among a rapidly growing and aging patient population, unreasonable and burdensome continuing medical education requirements – all of these things contributed to my unrest. Do you identify with any of this?

I felt used up. I was becoming very cynical. I was irritable and unhappy. I felt put upon by everyone and everything. I hadn’t felt any joy or pleasure in my work for a very long time. It was only my 17th year in private practice and I was a long way from retirement but I knew, I knew, something had to change.

In 2009 I went to my practice partner and told him that I either had to make some changes or I was going to have to quit practicing medicine. I told him how I felt, overworked, dissatisfied and unappreciated. I didn’t feel I was making any difference in the lives of my patients. I didn’t blame him but I secretly resented him because he didn’t seem to feel any of what I was feeling. He seemed happy and balanced.

Truth is, I had over extended myself in trying to be the “everything to everybody” doctor. I was trying to do too much for everyone around me, and not enough for myself. I was a people pleaser and I definitely had a hard time saying no to anyone.

I had been reading on the subject of physician burnout and was convinced I aptly fit the definition, well, like a hand fits a glove. So, I put an action plan together for myself and began taking steps to fix what was broken.

The first thing I did was go to three days a week in the office. I made those days each an hour longer but I was now off four days out of seven. I took a cut in salary but I would have worked for free just to feel better and to have a shot at happiness in my work. I began to use the extra time to get my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual house in order.

I resigned from half a dozen boards, staying only on the one for which I was most passionate to serve. I read, traveled, ran and rekindled old interests outside of medicine for which I had previously made no time.

I studied physician burnout in depth, its warning signs, symptoms, consequences and treatment. I began to give talks on the subject and they were well received. I found many colleagues who identified with the way I was feeling.

These steps made all of the difference. I began to enjoy the practice of medicine again. I developed a new patience for my patients. Energy returned. I felt more at peace. I became hopeful for the future again. I began to achieve a more balanced life.

Still, I had not quite put all of the pieces together. The feeling I wasn’t doing what I was called to do never completely went away. It took a few more years in private practice, a convergence of circumstances and another personal crisis (a third great hurdle) for me to realize that for true happiness and fulfillment I would have to completely transform my life, first by defining and then by pursuing my true passions and purpose. I had to rekindle and reignite!

This has brought me to the present. I have begun to share my experience, strength and hope with others who feel as I once felt – burned out. I have begun coaching others on their journey from silent suffering to wellness.

Now, all of the pieces seem to fit. Through coaching I feel as though I now fit medicine, like a hand fits a glove.  Do you feel that way about what you do?

My transformation was nothing short of miraculous and has brought me a new freedom and a new happiness that I had never envisioned for myself. The same principles I applied toward my own transformation will help others facing similar circumstances. Perhaps that is you.

I am a personal coach, writer, speaker, podcast host, and family physician. I use all of these abilities to convey a simple but powerful message –

  • A life changing transformation is possible
  • You can erase the causes and effects of professional burnout
  • You can uncover and discover your true passions
  • You can recapture the joy of purposeful work and in living
  • You can remodel your thinking for tangible, positive, real-life benefits
  • You can let loose your creative potential using your natural God given talents and abilities.*

It’s not about making just one or a few changes in your life for change’s sake and then hoping for the best. It is about making the profound changes that are absolutely necessary for health, happiness, success and prosperous living.

I want to help those who feel lost discover their truer self, to ensure a better outcome – their preferred future. I want to help others establish a series of continuous positive changes in the mind, body, emotions and spirit that will recapture what was lost, remodel thinking, rekindle and reignite lives with passion and purpose, and let lose creative potential.

I want to help others come to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

My Biography


I am a writer, speaker, podcast producer and personal coach for physicians and other professionals who suffer from burnout. Also, I have enjoyed a career in medicine for the past 22 years as part of an office based family practice in Goldsboro, NC.

I have given hundreds of lectures up and down the east coast to physicians, professional groups and the public on various topics such as physician burnout, addiction and recovery issues, hypertension, cholesterol disorders, smoking cessation, and various therapeutic pharmaceutical agents.

I planned and helped to establish a free clinic in Wayne county and Goldsboro, NC, now in its thirteenth year. It is in a mobile medical unit which travels to 19 different locations in the county each month in order to provide free care to those that have no resources to obtain medical care otherwise. All the care on the mobile medical unit is free, all the labs are free and almost all of the patient’s medications are free. A satellite clinic was opened at the Family-Y to handle all of the demand. These two clinics see a total of 800+ patients each month for acute care and ongoing chronic disease management. With a staff of sixteen and an annual budget of $950,000.00+, it is the second busiest free clinic in North Carolina.

I am past chair of the North Carolina Physicians Health Program and currently sit on its Compliance Committee. It is a program devoted to helping troubled physicians recover from alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, patient boundary violations, and other behavioral disorders.

In 2002, I was named Family Physician of the Year by the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians. In 2010, I became a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

In my play time I enjoy woodworking, amateur astronomy, scuba diving and travel. I also enjoy collecting rocks, minerals and meteorites.


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