Increasingly, doctors are being explicitly tasked with providing both coaching and mentoring within their professional practice.

Not everyone has the opportunity to attend training and explore their skills thoroughly. Here Dr Sanjay Agrawal writes about embarking on a professional coach-mentoring qualification.

 

It has been quite a journey. I decided to undertake formal training in coach-mentoring in 2017. There were a number of reasons to do this; firstly, I found myself doing a lot of informal coaching at work when people wanted advice about careers, skills or other situations, secondly I understood the benefits of coaching from my wife (Me! Ed)and lastly I observed in my professional work that it is pretty uncommon for others to take an active interest in your ambitions, plans, projects or problems and just listen and help you to come to your own conclusions – which is what coaching provides and I which I wanted to be able to give.

Although I could have carried on informally coaching others I thought it would be much more useful to become properly trained with a Diploma in Coach-Mentoring, so that I could give the people I was working with the full benefits of coaching, and be secure that I was operating within a clear governance framework with oversight from a supervising coach-mentor and adhering to standards set out by the European Mentoring and Coaching Confederation (EMCC). There are numerous providers of training in coach-mentoring and I chose the one that seemed comprehensive and fitted in (flexible) with my day job, and I was lucky enough to secure funding from my trust and Health Education East Midlands for the training.

Having studied for what seems like hundreds of exams over the last few decades, the thought of doing another qualification and more specifically the time commitment, wasn’t a motivating factor for me! However, having carved out the time to start and developing a cunning (actually ramshackle) plan for the 9 months the diploma training takes, I got the ball rolling in March 2018 by participating in one of the required workshops and felt a real sense of relief that I was finally off the mark. The workshop included a session of ‘practice’ coaching with other attendees and I have to say the 15 minutes we had as ‘the coach’ felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life, possibly worse than some of the school plays I have had to endure as a parent. The next big step was to identify potential victims (i.e. volunteer coachee’s). I put the feelers out at work and wider networks and was amazed that within a couple of days people had come forward to take up the offer. This then marked the beginning of the next element to stretch my already stretched comfort zone, namely, ‘contracting’. Contracting is a bit like giving informed consent for a medical procedure in that it describes the risks, benefits and boundaries of coaching and although I do this routinely at work, it felt very strange applying it to a new venture. In the end the anticipation was much worse than the process.

May 2018 marked the beginning of my first three actual coaching sessions and to say I was nervous is an understatement. My daughter was in full GCSE revising and exam mode at the time, and I think I was definitely the worse of the two of us. Although I had put a lot of thought and preparation into the structure of the sessions and making sure that I made my coachee’s feel comfortable and secure, I felt a bit like a swan, trying to look dignified and serene on the surface but kicking my feet frantically under the water! I learnt lots from each of the three sessions about myself, my coachee and the process itself and felt a bit like Luke Skywalker in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ with the need for me to trust the ‘Force’ or in my case, the preparation I’d done. Needless to say, the sessions were not as bad as I had imagined they might be, and all of my coachee’s have agreed a time and date for the next session. More observations to follow!

Studying for the Oxford Coach Mentoring school (OCM) Diploma in professional coaching and mentoring

Dr Sanjay Agrawal

  • Consultant in respiratory and critical care medicine at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • Chair of the Royal Collage of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Trustee