Leadership Coaching for Residents and Fellows

The longitudinal educational preparation for physicians involves the transition through several academic milestones from undergraduate medical education through residency and fellowship training. This professional training span of seven to ten years is often described as the most stressful for even the most resilient trainees. While mentorship from program faculty is available, often times faculty in academic medical settings are over extended to meet their own teaching, supervision, clinical, research, and administrative responsibilities. 

In the business world, the concept of executive/leadership coaching has been readily acceptable. New executives managing multi-million dollar companies anticipate the guidance and shaping of their leadership and professional identity through the work with leadership coaches. In the spectrum of medical education, often times a referral to a “counselor” is associated with remediation or failure and this needs to change. The EVMS Office of Graduate Medical education is piloting a leadership coaching program for all residents and fellows. The coaching is designed to be proactive by providing trainees with effective personal and professional coping strategies while multi-tasking the range of responsibilities within their training experiences. 

The theoretical underpinnings of the coaching model is based on a solution-focused approach where emphasis is focused on developing the residents’/fellows’ innate strengths. On average, residents/fellows have been meeting for 5 coaching sessions. The number of sessions will be determined on an individual basis. Prior to their 1st coaching session, they will complete a coaching goals worksheet. After the final coaching session, the resident/fellow will complete a coaching feedback evaluation to assist us with ways to improve the program.  

At this time, residents and fellows are either referred by their Program Director for coaching or they self-refer by contacting the Assistant Dean of Graduate Medical Education.  Some programs have agreed to take part in this pilot program by requiring all their new trainees (starting July 2015) to meet with the leadership coach. For more information about leadership coaching, please contact Dr. Agatha Parks-Savage, Assistant Dean of Graduate Medical Education (parksac@evms.edu).