As a practicing orthopaedic surgeon, I still have a membership to the American Medical Association. As part of that membership, I receive the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in print at my house. Even with print dying and JAMA not what it once was, I still enjoy scanning the front cover and reading some of the editorials. My favorite section is titled “A Piece of My Mind,” because we get to hear directly from our colleagues on a number of topics important to us as a physician community.
In the October, 6, 2020 edition, the article in this section was titled “Calming the Storm” by Jesse Goitia Jr., MD. He is a practicing cardiologist who tells a powerful story about his own struggles with the physical manifestations of anxiety and how his personal physician was able to effectively coach him to improve his self-care skills.
Coaching Skills for Physicians
I find this story illustrative of several important ideas I have about physicians, well-being, and coaching.
- Destigmatize – It is critical that we continue to destigmatize mental well-being, especially for physicians and surgeons. Just by writing about his own experiences, Dr. Goitia helps to de-stigmatize caring for ourselves. We have to normalize talking about and seeking help when we need it. Thank you for sharing your experience, Dr. Goitia.
- Patient Care – The story illustrates how useful coaching type skills can be for treating patients. Coaches (the physician) meet clients (the patient) where they are in their own treatment plan and leverage the patient’s unique strengths to obtain the best outcome for them.
- Self Care – Coaching can improve our own self care as physicians and coaches. These skills in turn allow us to combat our learned negative habits such as perfectionism, and open up new lines of thinking we previously had not considered. The personal connections we make in coaching are critical in burnout prevention.
I encourage everyone who reads this blog post to consider coaching as an avenue to better outcomes, both personally and professionally. The skills of non-judgement, active listening, and deeper connections can take us far.
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