Medical school is a wild ride, filled with anticipation and unforgettable experiences. From the excitement of the first day of orientation to the white coat ceremony and meeting new people, every moment is etched in your memory. Endless hours of lectures followed by late nights of studying at home, the thrill of dissecting for the first time, and the camaraderie of study groups and problem-based learning create a unique atmosphere. But alongside these highs come the challenges—the knot in your stomach before your first exam, the rollercoaster of emotions while volunteering, shadowing, or going through rotations, witnessing both the joy and devastation of patient care.
Throughout this journey, medical students constantly grapple with feelings of inadequacy, comparing themselves to their peers’ successes and failures. They question their career choice in medicine and their chosen specialty, wondering if they made the right decisions. The anxiety builds as they await the results of Step 1, an exam that seems to determine their entire future. Meanwhile, their peers navigate through life’s ups and downs—marriage, divorce, parenthood, loss, health issues, mental health struggles, and substance abuse. It’s a whirlwind of experiences that tests their resilience and determination.
And then, what comes next? Passing tests, securing a residency, and becoming an attending are not the sole goals of medical school. The true purpose is to cultivate autonomy, flexibility, adaptability, and curiosity. It’s about continuously growing and evolving, discovering a genuine passion for serving the community—patients, colleagues, teams, organizations—while also prioritizing self-care. Yes, self-compassion is the glue that holds it all together. And coaching can provide the path to unlocking one’s purpose.
From my perspective, being a medical student embodies the essence of the human experience. It is an opportune stage to benefit from coaching, which serves as a preventative measure against the challenges physicians face today. Coaching inspires fulfillment and offers protection, empowering students to reach their full potential.
Many students acknowledge the need to proactively seek out a mentor who aligns with their vision. Mentors play a crucial role by offering advice for professional development, drawing from their own experiences. However, coaching may become the new norm or an underutilized tool to complement traditional mentorships. With coaching, collaboration with a dedicated coach can instill confidence in making decisions and achieving personal goals. Simply put, it provides clarity on how to live one’s best life as a health care professional and beyond.
Looking back, I realize that if I had a coach during my time as a medical student, I would have asked more questions, engaged further with my peers, embraced challenges with a stronger mindset, and had unwavering faith in my decision to pursue medicine. I might have even made a more significant impact while enjoying the journey instead of always fixating on the destination.
Fortunately, medical schools have recognized the value of coaching and have begun incorporating it into their programs. They offer coach certification for faculty, residents, and fellows, provide coach training for community physicians, utilize psychologists for group coaching, hire coaching companies or private coaches for teaching courses and individual/group coaching, establish coaching centers, and integrate coaching into the medical school curriculum.
In a 1953 British Medical Journal article titled “Medicine – A Technology or a Profession,” Lieutenant-Colonel S. M. K. Mallick, MD, wrote, “The evolution of a point of view has always been through a succession of transitions. The ideas of today are merely precursors of those of tomorrow.”
Over the past several years, we have undoubtedly experienced a marathon of transitions. So, is it possible that every medical school will eventually offer coaching? As the evidence for coaching continues to exponentially grow, I firmly believe that this dream can indeed become a reality.
Amruti Borad is a family physician.