You need a boss, and a physician coach is the best kind


I have no idea who my boss is.  Is it the chief of surgery at my hospital who tells me I need to use more of my block time, or it’ll be reassigned?  Or the office manager who tracks my CME money and vacation days?  Or the medical group administrator who signed my contract and hasn’t spoken to me in two years since then? Or the mentor who was assigned to me when I joined our group, but doesn’t even know my kids’ names?

Similarly, who’s boss am I? The OR staff doesn’t report to me, even though I spend most of my working hours with them.  The clinic staff doesn’t report to me, even though they have the biggest impact on my day to day job satisfaction.

Many employed physicians find themselves in the nebulous world of no boss and no direct reports- and it’s a problem.  If you don’t have a boss, who is checking in to see what’s working well for you, and what’s not?  Who is invested in helping you grow and develop?  What’s the next ‘level up’ and how do you get there?  While autonomy is nice- it can feel a little bit like the conveyor belt of all of our years of training has ended, and we are suddenly thrust off a cliff without any direction.  After years of hierarchical training, it can feel like a huge weight is lifted when you just get to BE. But that freedom becomes aimless after a few years.

My brother in law works as an executive at Exxon Mobile.  Since the day he started there right after college, he has had a very clear path ahead of him with frequent reviews, guideposts, goals, and objectives for his personal and career development.  He is given projects and tasks with the purpose of building him up so that he can continue to move up in the company.  They are invested in developing him as a leader, and that is his boss’s primary job duty.

You don’t have a boss, and that’s a problem. You need someone who wants you to grow.  You need someone to challenge you and lay out a path for you that you want to walk down.  While another administrator is the last thing that the medical world needs, we desperately need physician coaches.  Coaches can focus on you and your career.  They aren’t beholden to your patient referral base or insurance companies. As a physician-to-physician coach, I help physicians utilize their natural strengths to build authentic and fulfilling lives and careers.  The Physician Coaching Alliance is a group of like-minded physician coaches who can be your cheerleader, your Yoda, and your guide.  Because you need a boss, and a physician coach is the best kind.

Laura Grimmer is a general surgeon.

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