Finding your Ikigai: Nicole Fox on the art of balance amidst trauma

During my last conference as ACDIS Director in Oct. 2021 I had the pleasure of introducing Dr. Nicole Fox as our opening keynote. Nicole is not a professional lecturer but delivered one of the most impactful and inspiring speeches I’ve seen, covering her work as a pediatric trauma surgeon and her challenges as a single mother raising four children. 


Understatement: Nicole is an impressive human being. In addition to a heavy clinical rotation, she’s the Associate Chief Medical Officer, Associate Professor of Surgery, and the Medical Director of pediatric trauma for Cooper University Hospital, a level 1 trauma facility in Camden, NJ. 


Oh, and she also serves as Medical Director for the hospital’s CDI program. 


Nicole is recently back from a World Trauma Congress in Tokyo and was married this year. We get caught up on all of this on this episode of Off the Record. We cover:


  • Advances in trauma treatment and insights into Japanese culture and the philosophy of Ikigai


  • A “typical” day in pediatric trauma—instructive for any CDI professionals who might be grumbling why queries aren’t always answered timely


  • Nicole’s inauspicious path to CDI (she was one of the worst documenting physicians in her organization, with a number of outstanding charts so large you have to listen to believe) and unlikely path to medical director of CDI


  • Vendor shortcomings—overpromise and under-delivery 


  • Mortality reviews—getting started, common clarification opportunities, and the delicate dance of querying a physician to provide further detail on an expired patient 


  • Recent domestic changes 


  • Her favorite song for the OTR Spotify playlist, and our personal encounters with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (hers is much, much cooler than mine)


Books mentioned on the show include:

  • Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles 
  • Ichigo Ichie (same authors) 
  • Wabi Sabi, Beth Kempton






Listen to the episode here:

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