I have the privilege of serving as one of the coaches for “A Whole New Doctor” (AWND) coaching program at Georgetown University in Washington DC, for the last 18 months. This program focuses on medical students. I have coached two medical students through the program. Each student has ten individual one-hour coaching sessions.
From the very beginning students’ eagerness to discover their hidden potential and enthusiasm for personal skills building stands out as the most important aspect of this coaching engagement. Student post coaching reflections and feedback for overall program have been enlightening.
Looking back, the focus of our generation of physicians during training was mostly on developing strong medical knowledge base and exceptional clinical skills. However, medical students today are well aware that strong human and inter-personal skills are equally important in the health care milieu.
Coaching has helped students recognize that many challenging situations result from some form of communication barrier. Effective communication skills are needed whether it is assisting patients with their health decisions, collaborating with team members, having difficult conversations with family or friends, or speaking in public,. Students utilize coaching to discover and build their own communication styles.
Future physicians need to prepare themselves to embrace the culture of constant change, which can be overwhelming. Capability to manage change is crucial when it comes to keeping up with latest clinical guidelines, ever increasing role of genetic testing, innovative biologic therapies, cutting edge health information technology, changes in heath care policy or any other aspect. Coaching can be a powerful tool for students in becoming effective change agents and physician leaders of tomorrow.
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