Intentional Life Design for Physicians

Tools to Recover Your Calling

Find yourself thinking “I don’t feel excited about my work anymore. Did I choose the right career?” or maybe “I love what I do. How can I connect more with my commitment to medicine?”

Intentional Life Design for Physicians is an online course made for doctors, like you, seeking to improve their experience with work and their lives. In this short and self-paced course, exclusively for Duke alumni, you will learn a framework to manage the inevitable stressors and challenges experienced while practicing medicine and how to stay connected with why you started. Intentional Life Design is built out of the instructors’ experiences as an ethicist and researcher on the moral and professional formation of physicians, and as a physician executive coach. Join our instructors, Dr. Farr Curlin and Dr. Ryan Bayley, to learn more about how you can live in accordance with what is important to you

Registration full.

Class starts October 11.

What to Expect

Through on-demand lectures, case studies, discussion, and exercises (created with physicians’ schedules and needs in mind) participants will develop skills for responding differently to the challenges of practicing modern medicine. Over this five-week course, you will:

  • Use proven tools to candidly assess how you currently experience your work
  • Learn response skills for managing stressors and road blocks on the job
  • Reconnect with what makes practicing medicine meaningful for you
  • Identify specific steps you want to take to make meaningful change
  • Create a personalized action plan that aligns what you value with what you do daily

Each week requires approximately 2 to 2.5 hours for class activities and content, and 1 additional hour for a live group session. Group sessions led by our instructors will be hosted through Zoom on:

  • October 16 @ 8PM
  • October 23 @ 8PM
  • October 30 @ 8PM
  • November 6 @8PM

      [Four Week Intersession- Action Plan Implementation]

  • December 4 @ 8PM (Class Regroup and Wrap-Up)

Class Description

While there are many classes and resources about managing burnout through strategies like relaxation techniques, this course takes a different approach. Using a coaching framework as a guide, you will examine the gap between where you are and where you want to be in your life. Through this course, you will develop an action plan to make desired changes to your experience as a physician.

The first week is dedicated to laying a foundation for personal change by connecting with your own thoughts and feelings about practicing medicine. You will learn about the physician well-being spectrum and assess your position on it. As a class, we will identify the impact of stress on the brain and the external, as well as internal, sources of stress in our lives. In week two, we ask “what kind of life would we choose if we could?” Without a compelling vision for where you want to be, it is hard to identify steps you will need to take to get there. As you begin to determine these steps, we will differentiate between goals-driven and values-driven behavior, identify your values in both professional and personal domains, and construct visions for values-based living. Week three focuses on listening to, and better understanding, your inner voice. Through class, we will recognize inner challenges and stressors that permeate our professional experiences and begin to apply techniques for changing your relationship with these stressors. During week four, you will put together everything we have learned to create yourself a tangible plan that includes short, medium, and long-term goals and actions, each aimed to better align your choices with who and what is important to you.

After week four, the course will take a month intercession to provide you time for implementing and testing your action plan. At the end of the hiatus, we will reconvene to reflect upon how your plan unfolded, identifying successes and challenges, and re-visit key concepts to further define your action plan and commit to the changes you want to make for the coming year.

Please Note: This course is part of a research study being conducted by the instructors, Dr. Farr Curlin and Dr. Ryan Bayley.  The goal of the research is to evaluate the effectiveness of this course. A 16-item survey (a variation on the Stanford Professional Fulfillment Index) will be used as part of data collection.

You may still participate in the other elements of this course without completing the survey. Your participation in this research study is voluntary. You may withdraw at any time and you may choose not to answer any question.

If you have any questions about this study, please contact Dr. Curlin or Dr. Bayley at For questions about your rights as a participant contact the Duke IRB at

About the Instructors

Farr Curlin, MD

Hospice and Palliative Care

Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities

Duke School of Medicine and Duke Divinity School

See Farr’s bio


Ryan Bayley, MD

Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services

Adjunct Faculty, Duke School of Medicine

Physician Executive Coach

See Ryan’s bio