Physician Outlook Doctors Living with Stress

Just Get a Coach Already!

Just get a coach already. Okay, that was unsolicited advice, which we coaches are traditionally loath to give. But it’s excellent advice, nonetheless. If you’ve been thinking about getting a physician coach, thoughtfully consider these questions:

Do you have a pulse?
Is there more that you
want to do, or to be?
Could you use a professionally-trained ally totally committed to your progress and well-being?
Yes, yes, and yes, right?

Physician coaching is now a necessity, not a nicety.

There are at least three reasons why. First, nearly half of us physicians are job stressed. And not just from burnout either. New work-related syndromes such as moral injury, work-life imbalance, second victim syndrome, and plain old ennui are being recognized as separate stress entities. If you’re job stressed, working with a coach can help give you clarity about where you are in your work, discover your real desires for your work and life, create a personalized plan for your next steps, and hold you accountable for getting them done.


Second, the future of the healthcare industry is fiercely uncertain. We, physicians, are weathering the onslaught of breakneck devolution. We’re increasingly compressed by the fragmentation of care delivery, venture capitalist encroachment, and never-ending administrative burdens. The scope of practice of APP’s continues to evolve and deepen; physicians are increasingly deemed as less necessary. If you’re reeling from occupational instability, working with a coach can help you rediscover your personal power despite systemic powerlessness. Coaching helps you understand your unique value. Armed with this knowledge, you can maximize your participation in the healthcare marketplace, or decide to jettison it all together for other work that better aligns with your personhood.


Thirdly, practicing medicine can be a particularly lonely endeavor. Many of us were taught that standing alone is a marker of strength, that being independent is the ideal physician state. We’re cloistered away in office pods, physically siloed away from colleagues who might otherwise provide peer support. Some of us don’t have colleagues who care about us. And even when we do, they’re afraid to ask how we’re doing, because they wouldn’t know how to handle a less rosy answer. And if we are asked, we don’t fully share for fear of being seen as weak or even being ‘ratted out’ to Admin.

If you’re tired of trying to figure it out alone, working with a coach gives you a safe, private, and confidential space to be your true self. You don’t have to pretend you have it all together because none of us do. In a relationship with your coach, you are free to be imperfect, authentic, and glorious. Warts and all. Fears and all. Your coach is your staunch ally who accepts you as you are yet holding you accountable to the desires and values you profess. As a busy physician, you spend the precious moments of your life listening to others, but rarely get listened to. You are a human being. You deserve the same abundant compassion and companionship on your life’s journey as anyone else.

What’s a coaching session like?

Coaches come in all flavors, so it really does depend on his or her style. But generally, there is a recap since the last session, what you experienced and learned in the interim. The coach may next ask what you’d like to address today, and then the coaching begins. The coach asks questions, you reflect and answer, and your coach listens and summarizes what he or she heard. Then in an amazing way, powerful insights are co-generated from your two minds working together in harmony. With new insight, you joyfully choose which action steps towards your goal you want to accomplish before your next session, knowing that your coach will hold you accountable for their completion.

How do I know coaching is working?

Once you begin coaching, your progress toward that stubborn goal will likely be much more tangible than you’ve ever been able to induce alone. That’s fantastic! But most importantly, you’re on a journey of self-discovery. You’re becoming more self-aware, learning priceless lessons about you and how you operate. And usually once you start such a journey, you never want to stop.

Because you finally realize how truly fabulous you are.

How do I find a good coach?

Coaches don’t currently need to be credentialed to provide coaching services. Many people calling themselves coaches are functionally consultants or mentors instead. Look for titles and letters. Titles and letters after a coach’s name signify that coach has been officially trained in a coaching methodology and practices under formal ethical coaching guidelines. Different certifications and credentials correspond to differing lengths of training and practice hours. Research your coaches. The Physician Coaching Alliance offers a helpful database of their coach members. Most coaches have a complimentary Discovery call. Talk to them; find out what their training and experience have been. But ultimately the best coach for you is the one you resonate with, with whom you can see yourself having a happy and engaging relationship. It’s not simply the hard work both you and your coach put into the process, but the quality of your relationship that truly drives change. Now’s the time to get a coach!

Just get a coach already.

Physician coaching is now more necessary than ever. Coaching can give you clarity, help you reclaim your power, and give you much-needed support and encouragement as you do so. It can improve your work, and your life, for the better!

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