Life coaching for physicians is an underused physician burnout tool

The onset of the new millennium has brought about a shift in not only the technological aspect of our industry, but also the mindset of physicians who are entering the field. Gone are the days of “work 40 years at the same practice, retire and live the good life.”  Physicians are finding more creative ways to be doctors including entering non-clinical careers, being entrepreneurs on the side, and moving into more integrative practices.

While going back to school for a masters in business administration may be the path for some, many doctors may not have the time, or the inclination to want to spend yet another 2 to 3 years in school just for another set of letters behind their name.

In addition, physicians are facing issues like stress, overwhelm, and burnout. The reality is that for many reasons, physicians are less likely to reach out for help to a traditional mental health support. For this reason, physicians need a more modern approach to educating and empowering themselves on how to move forward in their various pathways. This is where coaching can be of benefit. Life coaching for physicians can provide the access to streamlined support that helps doctors to create strategies and structures that will help them reach whatever goals are necessary for what they are experiencing.

Coaches are trained to listen

In our careers, we are the ones constantly listening to the problems of our patients. However, we have our own problems, dilemmas, goals, and dreams. Often we don’t have the same access to dedicated listeners in our lives. Our colleagues are tapped out for the same reasons we are (listening to problems all day). Our friends may listen, and may even be in our corner, but don’t always know how to listen without “fixing” or giving unsolicited advice. Our spouses may listen, but are also likely to want to try to problem solve rather than simply allow you to express fully. Plus, your spouse or significant other is typically listening to you from a “what I already know about you” perspective and may not be able to see what’s missing. They are inside of the fish bowl with you.

Coaches have a different perspective

Because coaches are not as close to you or your situation, they have a different perspective. When you are the fish in water, you cannot see the forest for the trees. Your coach, however, can see missing pieces of the puzzle. They can see solutions that you may not have ever considered. Also, because they may not have the same level of resignation or cynicism for the situation that you are in, they can see possibilities that you cannot.  If you think about it, they are a completely different brain from a different environment, and therefore have a completely different train of thought than you, which ultimately leads to your benefit.

Coaches can spot your blind spot

To the earlier point of coaches being trained to listen for what’s missing, they can hear the holes in your thinking. There are things that you know that you know.  Similarly, there are things that you know that you don’t know. However, these things are all in the realm of your consciousness. There is a whole other realm; the things that you don’t know you don’t know: your unconscious. This is also known as your blind spot.  Coaches re-contextualize, reframe, and re-create you in a way that has you see things newly and therefore get a deeper meaning or understanding of what is or has been in the way of your progress.  When your blind spot is revealed, it gives you access to a new level of power and performance that has you produce results with an efficiency you may not have thought previously possible.  Additionally, bringing things that were previously in the dark to light has to potential to give closure and completion to things in the past that may have prevented deep connection in relationships with the people you love and care about leaving you with a new sense of freedom, happiness, love, and peace of mind. A want that you may have not even know you were seeking.

Coaches will hold you accountable

While we are naturally high performers as physicians, there are some things that we still may have a tendency to avoid, procrastinate on, or put on the back burner (namely ourselves). Not only will your coach help you create a strategy, a plan, and a solid structure to support you in reaching your goals, but he/she will also hold you accountable at every step. It’s like having a partner, a teammate to encourage and empower you at every step of the way.  When you miss the mark, a coach can firmly but lovingly hold your feet to the fire because they are standing for what you say that you want.

Coaches are your cheerleaders

Finally, your coach is your cheerleader. Part of moving along the path toward our goals involves stopping to celebrate the small wins. We often are so used to pushing along until the (never ending) end that we don’t stop and celebrate from time to time. In fact, doctors are historically the worst when it comes to acknowledging our wins and accomplishments.  Not only do coaches hold you accountable to completing the work that needs to be done to forward you to your goals, they also hold you accountable to celebrating and rewarding yourself for the good that you are doing in your own life, and in the lives of others. The reality is that we are human too with feelings, emotions, and need for love and acknowledgment. We need to be poured into like any other human being, and a coach gives you someone that is always in your corner.

Finding the right coach for you

If you are a doctor considering hiring a coach, the important thing is to be clear about the reason you are hiring them. There are many varieties of coaches including business, marketing, wellness, vision/purpose, and relationship. There are coaches who specialize in empowering specific populations or situations. Additionally, there are coaches who incorporate specific techniques that can provide deeper benefit and enhance results.  In choosing a coach, you want to be sure the coach is not only certified and experienced, but also is a right fit for your personality, your goals, and most importantly your specific needs.

Maiysha Clairborne is an integrative medicine physician and can be reached at The Stress Free Mom MD.  She is the author of The Wellness Blueprint: The Complete Mind/Body Approach to Reclaiming Your Health & Wellness

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

View 1 Comments >

Most Popular

Get KevinMD's 5 most popular stories.