Home Concepts Strategy Future of Coaching Coaching Physicians: Part Two

Coaching Physicians: Part Two

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We are offering several different perspectives on the coaching of physicians in this issue and begin with an interview that I conducted with Stuart Levine, MD, President and Chief Medical Officer of MedStar Harbor Hospital and Senior Vice President, MedStar Health: Rick Auman, his coach, arranged for me to interview Stu. Wow! I’ve condensed 22 pages of meaty transcription into [#] pages of leadership lessons – how Stu began his medical career, being at the top of his clinician/diagnostician career, and then his supervisor recognizing his talents for a larger role. His story is full of insights you can use in coaching physicians in leadership roles – and those who are starting their management careers. Take a look at the Harvard Business Review’s “Why The Best Hospitals Are Managed by Doctors.” [https://hbr.org/2016/12/why-the-best-hospitals-are-managed-by-doctors]

From Extraordinary Diagnostician to Extraordinary Leader

Joy Goldman, one of the most effective coaches I know, and I co-authored a deeper dive into polarities/tensions/dilemmas, with six case studies about physicians as systems’ observers. Email either of us with your questions on this technique.

Physicians as Systemic Change Leaders

We give our undivided attention to our coaching clients our presence. My trip to Shanghai where I visited my friend, Zhuo, and her mother brought The Value of Presence home to me – presence and caring override language fluency.

The Value of Presence in Medicine

As Stu mentions in his interview, moving from clinician to executive requires learning new skills and seeing the world in a larger frame. The Essential Difference Between Management in Medicine and Managing in Business summarizes some of what I’ve learned through my transformation, and from the transformation of my clients.

The Essential Difference Between Management in Medicine and Managing in Business

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh runs a Master Class in Non-Technical Skills for Surgeons, an educational system that allows valid and reliable assessment of surgeons’ situation awareness, decision making, communication and teamwork, and leadership. I write about this in Learning Non-Technical Skills Might Save a Patient’s Life. Harvard runs a similar class, which I also took. It turns out that surgeons who are effective leaders have better outcomes – fewer deaths and complications. The next time you or a loved one has surgery, consider asking your surgeon whether s/he has been assessed.

Learning Non-Technical Skills Might Save a Patient’s Life

Next, I tell the story of my own Hard Case: What Happens When a Medical Mistake Has an Unthinkable Outcome. My patient and the lesson he taught me are as clear to me now as they were after our conversation, over three decades ago. I still choke up when I think of the gift my patient gave to me.

Hard Cases: What Happens When a Medical Mistake Has an Unthinkable Outcome

Finally, we conclude with a regular feature of The Future of Coaching: the Coaching Tool Box. My research into The Anatomy of a Good Doctor taught me that emotional intelligence – the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others – is critical to patient safety and healthcare quality, as well as for patients’, staff members’ and clinicians’ well-being.  Here are 12 Steps to Emotionally Intelligent Healthcare.

The Coaching Tool Box: 12 Steps to Emotionally Intelligent Healthcare

As always, email us with your questions and suggestions. Thank you for the support you’re giving to our physicians and other clinicians.


Margaret Cary, MD, MBA, MPH, PCC




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