Coaching Physicians

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How much of a coach’s frustrated “What is it about physicians?” is generated by preconceived assumptions rather than by remaining curious? I am a physician and, as with most people, our views of ourselves and our beliefs in what we project to others may vary wildly with what people see.

We’re a culture.

Before you visit another country, most of you read books and articles about the culture, interested in what is new and different in that foreign – to you – destination. The differences invite more exploration. What would it be like if you approached coaching physicians as if you were entering the Republic of Medicine?

In the rest of this article, I’ll highlight a few of the troubles common to physicians based on our professional culture – as well as a few of the methods I’ve found especially effective in working with other physicians because of our culture.

Imposter Syndrome Infections

When I first finished my residency, I felt like a fraud (and thought I was the only one who felt this way). Soon enough I discovered that doctors have a high incidence of Imposter Syndrome. Ultimately, over time and with practice, we realize our training did prepare us and we can be competent clinicians. Sometimes, specific moments stand out.

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3 Comments

  1. Patrick Williams

    April 15, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Dr. Cary has written here , a truth telling article about the unique challenges of physicians…..of whom we know so little and judge so often. Dr. Cary’s, background as a physician, and now as a caring leadership coach, allows perfect insight into seeing physicians in a leadership role and using the essentials of coaching. This article is a great example of the keys to differentiating Technical leadership versus Adaptive leadership. There are few professions that require skillful adaptive decision making and leadership than being a physician and Dr. Cary in this article offers great insight and guidance.

    Reply

  2. Elaine Holmes, M.D.

    April 16, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Very interesting, honest, and well written

    Reply

  3. Catherine Robinson-Walker

    April 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Well said, Maggi. This is an important, honest article that touches on much of what isn’t working in the healthcare system today. Thank you, Dr. Cary!

    PS. I have written about the imposter syndrome in healthcare, too. However, your weighing in as a physician adds important dimension. Thank you!

    Reply

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