Coaching for Doctor wellbeing

Coaching for Doctor Wellbeing

Many more doctors are now seeking coaching in Australia. COVID has made it more acceptable to talk about the needs of our healthcare providers. The number of doctors contacting me has steadily increased during 2020. Coaching is relatively new for healthcare professionals in Australia and not yet well understood.

Coaching is NOT the same as counselling, mentoring, training, or supervision. The Coach and the Coachee meet as equals and the coach holds a central tenant that the coachee has the answers they seek to their concerns.

The coaching process helps to discover these answers and to empower the coachee to take what they determine as the appropriate action.

The coach holds the process, creating the right environment for learning, decision making, for vulnerability, and ownership.

Coaching is empowering and creates agency, allowing the coachee to recognise what needs changing. There are high levels of responsibility and accountability in effective coaching.

Last year Liselotte, Dyrbye, Shanafelt, Gill et al published their randomised trial in JAMA asking the key question: Does professional coaching result in measurable reductions in burnout and measurable improvements in quality of life, resilience, job satisfaction, engagement, and fulfillment in physicians?

Their conclusion from this pilot? “participants who received professional coaching had a significant reduction in emotional exhaustion and overall symptoms of burnout, as well as improvements in overall quality of life and resilience.”

So why do doctors choose me as their coach?

  • 1. SPECIFICITY: Nearly 6 years inprofessional practice coaching doctors specifically. Most other coaches are working across corporate and various industry, with a few doctor clients in the mix. 90% of my coaching clients are doctors. I have learnt an enormous amount about medical training and healthcare systems during my 30 years of work and especially in these last six years.
  • 2. EXPERIENCE: As a Registered Psychologist with nearly 30 years of experience, my expertise is in understanding behaviour and mental processes. My skills and knowledge are complimentary to medical skills. I know about the things that are often gaps for doctors – PEOPLE SKILLS, SOFT SKILLS, INNER REGULATION, MOTIVATION, COMMUNICATION AND SELF AWARENESS. In addition, having owned and practiced inmy private psychology practice for many years, I bring a depth of understanding and skill in treatinggrief, trauma and other life distress. I understand what it’s like to be a health professional working with the public.
  • 3. As a HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL, I understand healthcare as a system, including how burnout occurs. I am an active advocate for better healthcare workplaces, involved in lots of collaborations. I have managed teams, employee assistance programs and delivered workplace training in health.
  • 4. ACCREDITATIONS: International Coaching Federation, Resilience@Work, Global Workplace Mindfulness Leaders – Potential Project and more. My learning includes academic study in behavioural science, human resources, leadership and coaching.
  • 5. MEDITATION TEACHER: I have cultivated and practiced mindfulness for many years. I have taught many people including lots of doctors, mindfulness and compassion skills in short workshops and in immersive learning programs over many months. I am part of a global network of healthcare professionals working in this space for better health for everyone, including and especially, the providers of health.
  • 6. COMMUNITY: at Coaching for Doctors we are building a community of doctors and healthcare workers who seek to develop their skills in human connection, self awareness and wellbeing. To take better care of themselves and collectively, so that healthcare is delivered differently, more effectively, for everyone.
  • 7. COACHING itself is a unique, safe space to develop and grow, without the fear of hierarchy or judgement. Coaching has demonstrated it’s capacity to foster potential and clarity, supported by over 20 years of research evidence. Coaching as a method is future focused, goal oriented and holds autonomy, competency and context as central to performance.

Coaching is achieving its purpose when new insights, previously unknown perspectives, and new thinking emerges. These happen when psychological safety and trust is high. Doctors learn new skills, uncover biases, make plans, grow their self-awareness, and much more in coaching.

I have written previously about the benefits of a psychologist coach for doctors. This article first appeared in Coaching Life Magazine in 2019.

Book a complimentary 30 minutes phone conversation here if you’d like to talk with me about how coaching can support you in your work as a doctor.


Liselotte N. Dyrbye, MD, MHPE1; Tait D. Shanafelt, MD2; Priscilla R. Gill, EdD3; et alDaniel V. Satele, BA4; Colin P. West, MD, PhD1,4Effect of a Professional Coaching Intervention on the Well-being and Distress of Physicians. A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(10):1406-1414. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2425

Sharee Johnson is the Founder of Coaching for Doctors, she works as an executive coach, psychologist and meditation teacher. She is committed to helping doctors change the culture of medicine to care for everyone more effectively, including doctors.

Categorised in: Wellbeing

This post was written by Sharee Johnson