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On Coaching and Self-Care

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Emory Buck, MD Candidate

Georgetown University School of Medicine Class of 2020

Coaching has allowed me the space to practice self-care (a popular phrase but elusive concept). My conversations with my coach, Meredith Betz, allow me precious time to actively and audibly articulate my struggles and sentiments about the path of medical training. Her patient ears create the space to cathartically verbalize my inner monologue that the overwhelming amounts of school work, exams, and extracurricular projects drown out. For the first several sessions, I felt that this alone held the merit of coaching: a time to self-reflect with an active listener, a friend who reserved judgment and allowed me to come to my own conclusions about my experiences. I arrived at each session without a particular topic or theme prepared. Rather, I found it spill out of me during the first moments of our conversation, followed by my ideas on how to alter my actions in the future, with Meredith there offering her guiding insights and practical strategies. The act of scheduling an hour with her effectively protected time for a deeper form of self-care in which I myself was able to actively explore my thoughts in the judgment-free space of the coaching relationship.

Coaching has also helped me to practice self-discovery and realize the foundations upon which some of the tenets of my personality rest. During our third session or so, I asked to speak about my personal relationships, which had been under some strain since I threw myself into a rigorous board exam study schedule after returning from winter break. I found myself articulating personal traits that I had known about myself, but never verbalized to another person.

“I am not very good at asking for help,” I found myself explaining, with stark realization how true that was.

Meredith probed me, “Why is that?”

Shifting in my seat, I mumbled that “I do not like to feel vulnerable, even with my friends and family.”

I realized how nonsensical that confession sounded; I am extremely close with my family, and the majority of my friends have known me for longer than a decade. I had named the unstable foundation upon which this personal trait had grown, lurking in the dark. I felt my usual explanation of ‘I am a very independent person’ slip away as this inner fear was exposed. What I had previously viewed as a strength – my independence – was revealed to be, at its core, a self-indulgent, unsubstantiated flaw. Only through exposing this will I be able to shift this mindset, and hopefully re-find my independence with the help of my family and friends.

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