For the first couple months after reading Better, the word COACHING continually popped up around me. It piqued my curiosity, and I started thinking about what type of coach I might be and how I might use coaching.
At this time I was no longer in academic surgery – having transitioned into private practice. I remained active in teaching and keenly interested in continuing medical education. I felt that an element was missing from the teaching and mentoring models in which we all operated.
Like all of us, I would go to meetings, teach, learn, come home, and attempt to apply what were considered the latest best practices. I had many great teachers and mentors, but none of them knew enough about my exact circumstances to effectively implement their advice. Things might improve, but the learning curve was pretty steep and the barriers to change were overwhelming. The cycle would repeat at each learning opportunity, and I never truly experienced the type of improvement or growth I thought was possible. As an educator, I was even more intrigued by how little change occurred as a result of the education that we delivered.
So I started thinking…what if the missing element was COACHING?
What if we could use coaching to power learning and growth in a manner that’s consistent with our values and our actual working environment?
What if our physician leaders, educators, and peers were the coaches that we could rely on to help us power through our barriers and challenges?
Two Common Ways Physicians Use Coaching
Here are two common ways coaching is helping our peers practice their best:
- Practice Optimization – Small matters can have an outsized impact on our life and practice. Having a coach ask insightful questions and offer another perspective can reopen our eyes to the methods of effective implementation.
- Peer Support – Coaching skills are a major component of effective peer support, especially during a crisis like COVID-19 or after any adverse event. An empathic peer who likely understands what it takes and what you are going through is a powerful inspiration.
Coaching is amazing! The coach doesn’t need to have all of the answers. The coach simply has to strive to be a great coach. As a leader, educator, and peer who coaches, I am now overwhelmed with the impactful experiences and positive feelings that I receive when helping a colleague crush a challenge or accomplish a goal they weren’t sure was possible.
Real-Life Physician Coaching Success Stories
Here are three examples of real-life physician coaching success stories:
- Weathering a complaint from disgruntled staff and transitioning from a confrontational CEO to a collaborative one, while still being a highly producing, effective, and compassionate physician.
- Prioritizing marriage and family through job burnout, while still being a favorite hospital physician amongst staff and patients, AND even taking on the dreaded EMR!
- Turning the usual anxiety of the first couple of years in practice and the departure of the only local senior surgical subspecialty mentor into healthy anxiety to build confidence for tougher cases, increasing practice efficiency, and negotiating skills.
I encourage all of my colleagues to consider what coaching could do for our profession, trainees, peers, and patients.
Reach out to me if you want to learn more, or check out SurgeonMasters Physician Coach Training to take the first step in becoming a coach.