Last year NHSE funded a pilot for the Faculty of Medical Leadership & Management to offer coaching to GPs who were considering leaving practice.

The evaluation report is a fantastic endorsement of the power of coaching and clearly illustrates the positive impact that these interventions can make on peoples’ lives.

As the report says GPs overwhelmingly endorsed their experience of coaching, with 89% saying that they would take up coaching again. 

The coaches working on the pilot were:

  • John Aspden, Executive Coach and Director, Cognitions
  • Katherine Foreman, Executive Coach and Managing Director, Topeka Healthcare
  • Alexis Hutson, Executive Coach, Coaching Doctors
  • Liz McCaw, Executive Coach and Consultant, Headspace for Business

And the feedback about all the coaches was incredibly positive.

Alexis is extremely personable and easy to talk to. She is a great listener and really good at getting at the nub of the issue. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with her and felt able to speak candidly with her about my thoughts, feelings and anxieties and about sensitive and personal issues as well as work, the workplace and wider issues which impact on work and life and the balance between the two.

CLICK HERE to read full report.

For more information contact FMLM at

3rd March 2016 2-7pm

Delighted to be working with the RCGP Vale of Trent team again.

I don’t know what magic you just weaved, but that session was brilliant. – Participant at recent RCGP Cambridge retirement workshop.


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If you would like to talk over your retirement plans, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at

I am working with a number of doctors at the moment who are considering alternative careers or managing careers that don’t follow a traditional path.


Although the education and training pathway for medicine is narrow and long, people don’t necessarily want their whole career to be prescribed or predictable. Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 07.50.06And what I often find is that people who are considering doing things differently are very anxious about how this may be viewed or valued. The investment both financially and personally in becoming a doctor is significant, so to potentially challenge this position is hard. And of course there is a whole section of the workforce who are now considering leaving medicine altogether due to the unrelenting pressures and personal challenges they are being made to face.

In this blog I’ll address alternative careers (actually stepping away from medicine) and different career paths (doing things differently, but within medicine).

Alternative Careers

So what could you do? There are lists on the internet that give options and ideas for doctors; what their medical degree and experience might lead to. I’m not sure these are that helpful though. If you are lucky enough to spot the ideal career for you in a list, then great. But if you are uninspired by the choices, you can still feel rudderless and frustrated.

As well as the practical and financial considerations, I think that one of the most important reflections you must consider is what kind of life do you want to lead. Family, health and wellbeing, time to think and create, opportunities for volunteering – and many others. In addition, what kinds of skills do you enjoy using. Not necessarily healthcare delivery, but perhaps people development or writing? What do you really get engrossed in and energised by?

See the link below for the national conference in April on ‘Alternative Career Paths for Doctors’.

Different Career Paths

Just because someone hasn’t done it before, doesn’t mean it is not possible. Everyone’s medical career is different and comparing yourself to others can be very unhelpful. What is also frustrating is that it can appear unclear how people have developed their careers; its often invisible how people have created their working arrangements and interests. But medicine affords people the opportunity to be a part of a clear and defined role, but also the opportunity to specialise and diversify in many different directions. It can take time and exploration to work this out, so be patient. If there is one trait that I see most often with doctors, it is the desire to learn and keep developing so taking risks, keeping your options open and trying out new things is key to capitalising on opportunities.

Final thought..

The most important part of this process is to approach it from the right direction. That is, don’t consider stepping away from medicine, focus on what you want to step towards, and perhaps medicine might play a role in that. As some educationalists are now approaching young people differently with ‘don’t ask a student what they want to be when they grow up – ask them what problem they want to solve’, then perhaps we should apply the same to ourselves.

Useful Links and resources

There are more, but here is a selection for you to access:

It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it’s called Life.” Terry Pratchett.

If you would like to talk over your development call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at

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Last month, myself and Louise Kiteley of Coaching Innovations ran a one-day interactive and practical session called Take Time Out – building resilience, managing change and working differently.

This well attended session saw GPs, Practice Managers and Senior Nurses come along to take stock of their skills, approaches and look at new ways of problem solving and dealing with the relentless pressures in primary care.
The following interview with Dr Chris Hewitt (Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland Local Medical Committee) explores what we learnt, and observed, during the day. 

Q: What did we cover during the day that you think was particularly powerful for people?

Seeing GPs, Practice Managers and Practice Nurses having the headspace to think, to share experiences and ideas with colleagues with similar roles, challenges and environments, was enormously energising and uplifting. From the feedback it is clear that this experience was shared by course participants. I found it particularly powerful to gain more insight and to learn more about how my personal preferences around how I learn and communicate (and the preferences of those around me) influences how we all cope and look out for ourselves and each other.

Q: What do you think people particularly struggle with regarding ‘resilience’?

The i-resilience model was interesting – the need for a balance of confidence, social support, purposefulness and adaptability in order to endure and thrive, although on first inspection was clearly common sense, deeper review provided a clear framework for where as an individual we might be neglecting an area that could make us more vulnerable. Social support is particularly neglected. People put on a brave face or bottle things up, and we are wary of asking colleagues or networks for support to help deal with challenges and adverse situations.

Q: What is it about ‘change’ that can cause a lot of difficulty?

William Bridges transition model highlighted that the physical changes we overcome, do require a catching up of psychological buy in, with acceptance and change to pre-existing familiarity and habits which is required to go through the ’neutral zone’ of transition.  What was particularly interesting is that accepting and adapting to change – new premises or patient access systems – then requires people to ‘transition’ in their behaviours, working patterns and psychological acceptance, all of which occurs at different rates in different individuals.

The session was financially supported by the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Local Medical Committee and the Central Nottinghamshire Clinical Service.

Attendees said:
  • “Enjoyable, constructive.  Having the headspace and tools to think laterally around work issues, impactful.”
  • “Opportunity to work with different folk/groups, really helpful.”
  • “Great course – well-presented and facilitated.”

If you are interested in attending or hosting a course like this, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at

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Building resilience, managing change and working differently.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 15.48.24This is a one-day interactive and practical session that is being supported by the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Local Medical Committee and the Central Notts Clinical Service.

Session on: 23rd April 2015 – 9.30 to 4.30pm

Aimed at: GPs with a leadership role, Practice Managers and Senior Nurses

During the day you will consider:

  • How you can improve and manage the impact of change and work pressures on you and others.
  • How language supports the motivation of yourself and others.
  • A current workplace issue and how to deal with it effectively.
  • Take away ideas to keep you going

Venue: St Johns Community Centre, Packhorse Drive, Enderby, Leicestershire, LE19 2RP

Facilitators: Louise Kiteley of Coaching Innovations and Alexis Hutson of Coaching Doctors.

To Book: Contact Susan Shaw at LLR LMC – and 0116 243 0933.

Download the flyer Resilience day flyer FINAL

How can Doctors make the transition to retirement smoothly?

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I recently ran an evening session for the Leicester Faculty of the RCGP for GPs on the cusp of retiring. Thought it would be useful to post some of the information we used here and see what other ideas people have about retiring. Feel free to post at the bottom.

The two most important aspects of the session were understanding the emotions connected with retiring and putting together a plan for the change.


I think the most powerful aspect of the session for many of the attendees was coming together with those in a similar position to talk over hopes and fears. Here are some of the issues people highlighted:

  • Feelings of guilt, loss and grief at leaving the practice.
  • Uncertainty about plans, options and what else they could do.
  • Fatigue re; current workload, ability to ease off or move to part time.
  • Managing other’s expectations – partners at work, home and patients.

The structure we used to understand the process surrounding this significant change is the Bridges Transition Model.

This model helps guide people through change and is different to the Change Curve. The point being that the change itself is not what people are mostly dealing with; it’s their internal response to the change.

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As the images shows, different people (orange arrows) will travel through the transition at different speeds and will stay in the zones for different periods of time.

Attendees found this a useful way of understanding where they are currently with their feelings about retirement and it legitimized those emotions.

Email me for more information on this.


The general discussion and one to one Thinking Pairs was a great way for people to share their plans and ideas. Hearing others and talking through ideas helped sharpen objectives.

We used a planning sheet with the following questions to support the planning process:

  • When is your change date?
  • What is your vision, desired rewards of retirement?
  • Where are you in the Transition Model?
  • What do you need to start doing now?
  • What do you need to leave behind / stop doing?
  • Who can help you?

Planning ahead can never start too early for retirement it seems. That’s obviously true for the finances, but is also equally true for the lifestyle decisions. Setting your pace, activities, timings, managing relationships and how you may still want to contribute are crucial to how successful your retirement will be.

If you would like to talk over your retirement, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at



BMJ Careers on Retirement

Kevin MD Blog of retiring doctor


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Last Years of Practice and Beyond – There is life after General Practice. 

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 17.43.17This session is the second in a series I’m running for the Leicester Faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Managing your retirement is one of the most important things you will ever do. When will you stop? What will you do? How will the practice change?

What will be your legacy? What will your interests be?

This session will be a unique opportunity to review and discuss your strategy for retirement and plan the next stage in your life for your situation. We will work in a small group, privately.

We will be joined by Dr David Poll (GP with 30years service) of Riversdale Surgery, Belper, Derbyshire who will share his insights into moving towards retirement.

June 18th 7pm to 9.30pm at the RCGP offices at the Leicester General.

Benefits of attending:

  • Review your plans and timings
  • Reflect on what you will leave behind and what you will take with you
  • Manage the move from the practice and the people

To book onto the course visit the RCGP Leicester faculty website found HERE 

How can Doctors improve their interview performance?

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 12.37.22I’ve been pretty busy recently, some of which has been supporting doctors through interview processes for jobs. This has included people applying for training grade and consultant posts.

I thought it would be useful to note down some useful steps in managing the process, and anxiety.

My four stage process:

1. Purpose

Be clear about your purpose for applying for this post. That might appear to be obvious for those of you in training grades, but it’s always useful to reflect and consider the speed of your journey and the variety of experiences it offers you. The drive to get to the next stage is strong, but the end goal is not your only consideration. If you are beyond training, then make sure your purpose for looking elsewhere is clear. You might too easily focus on ‘moving away’ from an undesirable situation, but it is equally important to ‘move towards’ something that is right for you and your circumstances.

Tip – do not underestimate the emotions this can generate. 

2. Plan

Plot what you need to do and by when in order to be ready. Again, this may appear obvious but focusing too heavily on ‘the big day’ is a common mistake. Get the planning and organisation right and the actual interview itself is far less of a trial. Break down the known interview areas and plan out what your experience and knowledge is on this subject. Think about the meaningful examples you can talk about (animatedly) that are authentic and credible.

Tip – create a practical plan that you can work on steadily, within the timeframe.

3. Practice

Practicing your answers and talking through your ideas is crucial to making sure you produce a polished performance on the day. Doing this with friends or colleagues is good, but alone can also work. Hearing yourself articulate your responses is a great way to make sure that you are being succinct and specific. If you are required to do a presentation, practice it. Dress rehearsals help expose gremlins and it’s better to uncover these whilst practicing.

Tip – Don’t leave this till the last minute, have several goes at it. 

4. Performance

Make sure you are in the right frame of mind on the day. This really matters but will be helped considerably by the previous stages. If you have got 1, 2 and 3 right then you should be feeling pretty good at this point. However, make sure that you are ready to display the very best version of you. Make a note of how you present yourself at your best. What does it look like and how does it feel?

Tip – Consider what impression you want to leave and how you will achieve that. 


If you would like to talk over Coaching for interviews call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at




‘Know thyself’ is as relevant now, as it was in ancient Greece.

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I recently ran a session for the Leicester Faculty of the RCGP for their First5 group. It was an evening session on a very cold and windy March night, but we had a full house. I used the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) to give attendees insight into their personal preferences about how they naturally interact with the world, plan and organise their lives, make decisions and cope with change. Whilst we had a lot of fun, it was really interesting to see how individuals came to terms with some pretty intrinsic truths about themselves and how these might affect their transition from training programme to independent practice.

When I attended the session I did not really know what to expect- but afterward I feel like I have got to know myself so much better…In the busy world that is general practice and with the increasing pressure it was a breath of fresh air to be able to take a step back and assess my personality not only professionally but also personally. I feel that I have the tools to deal with future tensions better and also to be able to recognise when that is also not the case.” GP Attendee.
Knowing thyself and managing yourself are so important in the challenging and pressurised environments Doctors function in. Taking time to read your emotions and review the affect you have on others is vital for your development, as well as fundamental to your leadership and management effectiveness.
But it’s not easy. Doing things that come naturally or are habit can be straightforward to you. But doing things that you find difficult or are outside of your comfort zone are a different matter. And when you have to do something like this then your internal battle is tough. Knowing yourself and finding ways to out manoeuvre the urge to avoid things that you have to do, is a powerful self management tool.

Building Self Awareness

You can access a whole host of tools that can help you to build self awareness such as MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, Hogan etc and these are very useful. However I think it’s your inner voice and the relationship you have with yourself that is the greatest indicator of affective self awareness. I’m re-reading Dr Steve Peter’s (Psychiatrist) The Chimp Paradox at the moment. It’s really helping me train for the 10k I’m doing in July as my urge to not run is strong! But the book is supporting me to develop a more honest and realistic relationship with myself about running. See more about The Chimp Paradox HERE. We can be thankful that for most of us our brain is developable at any stage of our lives, so we can keep learning about ourselves.

If you would like to talk over Coaching to build self awareness call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at

NB, Dr Steve Peters is now working with the England football squad, so that should test the model…

Doctors who manage their emotions effectively, make better leaders.

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We assume Doctors are ‘natural’ leaders. But there’s no real training for it in medical education or specialty training programmes and people are expected to evolve their leadership skills naturally. For something so important, why is it left to chance?


I think everyone needs help and guidance on developing leadership skills; it improves your working relationships and can have a big impact on how you can make things better.

Firstly it’s important to make the distinction between management and leadership.

Management is the ways in which we organise ourselves and responsibilities whilst keeping productive.

Leadership is the way in which we deal with competitiveness, volatility, uncertainty and conflict in the pursuit of strategic objectives. It involves engaging and inspiring others and gaining their trust at times of change or risk.

All of these things are highly emotive subjects and good leadership comes from managing your emotions and reading others’. Great leaders are known by their capacity to connect; be courageous; walk their own talk; inspire others to action; and be worth following.

And the most emotionally influential part of your body is your amygdala. This is the part of your limbic system that assigns emotions to every piece of data that passes through your mind – before it even reaches your cortex. It will assign one of the following 8 emotions to any thought.

Fear, Anger, Disgust, Shame, Sadness – all defensive / escape emotions

Surprise – potentiating emotion

Love, Trust – both attachment / engagement emotions

For survival purposes, there are more defensive emotions that attachment ones, which means that most of us have a propensity to default to the defensive.

So it’s easy to see why there is often a combative culture between colleagues and management in the stressful and increasingly pressured clinical environment. The alarming speed a which your amygdala assigns emotions means that it can be very difficult to intercept feelings which are defensively unhelpful. So assisting people to read their own emotions and those of others, to encourage more rational and measured responses is a crucial part of leadership development. I believe Doctors deserve to have access to this.

We are powered by an emotional brain and its job is to forge relationships and establish intelligent emotions…We need to raise our awareness of how we refine emotions/feelings into judgement, because feelings are the data on which judgements are made.” Professor Paul Brown*

*Professor Paul Brown is a consulting clinical and organisational psychologist and Head of the Psychology and Applied Neuroscience Unit of the National Science Council with the Prime Ministeris Office of Lao PDR.