Physician coaching is a creative, confidential relationship established for personal growth, professional development, and peak performance. Physician coaches utilize successful coaching strategies and principles to support career development, career transitions, physician wellness, and countless other personal and professional pursuits.
Professional coaching is a powerful resource used by countless industries to build career satisfaction and professional development. The International Coaching Federation defines coaching “as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential” (1). This method emphasizes a power dynamic heavily biased towards the client, building off of the client’s existing knowledge and skills to help them reach their peak potential. As a whole, coaching encourages greater self-awareness, constructive feedback, and positive steps forward.
How is Coaching Different from Mentoring?
Mentorship is a hierarchical relationship between a mentor and a student. These relationships are important for learning skills or defining a career path. There is tremendous value in hearing how others were successful and, on the flip side, what pitfalls to avoid. However, the needs of a physician change in practice as the focus shifts from learning skills to refinement and optimization. Physicians still benefit significantly from conversations that address goal setting, habit formation, professional development, improved time management, and higher day-to-day efficacy.
Defining Physician Coaching
Physician coaching is a professional partnership between physicians – a trained coach and a client. The purpose of the partnership is to help the client achieve. The relationship is based on confidentiality, honesty, and trust. The coach creates an environment that allows the client to reflect and then determine their best steps for moving forward. The coach also establishes a system of accountability to increase the rate of success. Physician coaching calls on fundamental professional coaching core competencies often found in high-intensity professions like business or athletics.
Role of a Physician Client
- The physician client brings purpose to the coaching engagement, often in the form of goals or challenges.
- Coaching clients show up self-motivated to achieve their purpose and willing to take the actions between coaching sessions.
- In partnership with their coach, clients create a system of measurement to track their progress.
- During coaching sessions, clients think critically, share thoughts and feelings openly, and respond to questions honestly.
- Between coaching sessions, clients take action to achieve their purpose.
Role of a Physician Coach
- A physician coach is focused on the client’s purpose.
- A physician coach creates an environment for self-reflection, self-expression and achievement.
- A physician coach will support the client in creating a system of measurement to track progress.
- A physician coach will ask questions to spark critical thinking, deepen awareness, and generate new ideas and perspectives.
- A physician coach is a confidential sounding board for ideas and frustrations.
Why do physicians work with a coach?
Every day physicians feel the intense pressure of being at their best for every patient and the people around them—on top of working long hours, EMR duties, medical education requirements, and online reputations.