Doctors need and want coaching and mentoring now more than ever.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 08.38.38I’ve noticed a surge in interest recently. Not just for my own practice, but also through running group training sessions and working with other organisations.

For example, last week I was at the Royal College of Radiologist looking through the submissions for their pilot project to run a national mentoring scheme by and for members. We’ve designed the project to be relatively small at first so have a limited number of places. But we were genuinely surprised and delighted by the volume (and quality) of people who wanted to help and be a part of the pilot by donating their time freely. This significant oversubscription and generosity of spirit tells me that Doctors recognize the need and unique benefits of coaching and mentoring now more than ever.

And the RCR is not alone in 2014. I know that the Royal College of Physicians are also planning on setting up a mentoring scheme this year and the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) are in the process of establishing a network of experienced coaches and mentors for their members, which I’m proud to be a part of.

So why the surge now?

Mentoring for Doctors has been long touted as a crucial part of on-going professional development and the key to developing clinical leadership skills. But we also know that in the past many Doctors have assumed that coaching & mentoring are for those in ‘difficulty’ and have tended to suppose it’s not for them. We also know that the pervading culture of medicine requires Doctors to be resilient and ‘just get on with it’.

I think the current interest and need is because the pressure on Doctors is now so great, and the stakes are so high, that individuals are eager for help, now more than ever.

Where can you get the support you need?

  • Doctors in Training – Your Deanery might have a mentoring scheme.
  • Hospital Doctors – Your employing Trust might have it’s own internal mentoring service.
  • General Practitioners – Your Local Medical Committee or CCG might have access to networks.
  • All – Look to your Royal College or Faculty and see if they have a scheme. Academy of Royal Colleges.
  • All – Take a look at the NHS Leadership Academy website and see what’s on offer.
  • All – Click here to see what the FMLM are up to.

Read more here about the benefits of developing non-clinical skills.

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

How can Doctors develop their resilience and bounce back from adversity?

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Resilience is not something that you either have or have not. It depends on the circumstances and how you handle yourself when faced with different difficulties. Knowing what kinds of things stress you and what core assumptions you have about yourself, can help you access your strengths quicker and work on your weaknesses more deliberately. For example, you might be comfortable handling negative comments from a colleague, but find it really difficult coping with rejection for a post.

Knowing this and recognising the power you have to change how you handle things, is critical to developing your resilience.

A useful tool I often use with clients is the FREE i-resilence model that helps people understand what are the key features of resilience and where their strengths and weaknesses lie within the model. The four key components of resilience in this model are:

Confidence – An important element of feeling confident is the frequency of positive and negative emotions that you experience. As I’ve written before on this blog, managing your emotions and taking time to notice and cultivate the positive can have a very beneficial impact and give you a greater sense of control.

Social Support – Constantly coping on your own is not healthy. We all need help and cultivating strong bonds at work and at home is important. Nurturing your relationships and investing time in others will help you and allow you gain perspective on situations.

Adaptability – Accepting the fact that lots of things are out of our control (especially in the NHS) is part of our adaptability. Moving on and recovering from unexpected outcomes can mean you don’t stay angry or frustrated with situations for too long.

Purposefulness – Knowing what you are here for and what gets you out of bed in the morning. A big part of this is your personal values so assessing and identifying what your core values are will help you drive your behaviour and performance more deliberately.

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Why not access this tool for free and reflect on how resilient you are and what you want to get better at? I’d be happy to talk over your results with you. Contact me on 0754 0593476 or email me on

Lack of resilience predisposes you to burnout, it increases your predisposition toward stress, which causes you to go into a deeper hole. You feel like what you are doing is not worthwhile, and you have a sense of disengagement toward your work.” Amit Sood, M.D.

If you are a doctor with a leadership or management responsibility, then the chances are, you have two jobs.

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I’ve just come back from the annual Faculty of Medical Leadership & Management (FMLM) conference where I was exhibiting and speaking. The conference is aimed at clinicians who have an interest in developing leadership and management skills for themselves, or others. I really enjoyed my time there and met a lot of really interesting and thoughtful people. I really admire those of you who take up the challenge of a leadership role. You don’t have to do it and you don’t really get any thanks or reward for it.

And the reality is, that if you don’t give up your medical role, you have to the juggle the demands of your leadership challenges with your clinical priorities. Doctor and coach Richard Winters writes this month, this can come in four different challenges:

  1. Overwhelmed by organisational noise – urgent priorities means a reactive and fire-fighting approach
  2. Feeling stuck as an outsider – not belonging to either tribe
  3. Feeling stuck in transition – not knowing how your leadership skills are developing
  4. Feeling trapped in a time warp – organisational change and projects can take a long time

Department chairs, managing partners, medical directors, chiefs of staff—they’re all frustrated. As a practicing physician with experience in several leadership roles, I know how they feel: They don’t recall saying to their childhood friends, “I want to be Vice President of Medical Affairs when I grow up.”

Richard Winters MD. See Richard’s blog ‘Coaching doctors to become leaders’ HERE

I think those people who are prepared to stick their neck out and have a go at these roles deserve to have proper support and development. Coaching and mentoring are an effective way to develop the skills and approaches you will need. Because it is tailor made for you, your strengths and weaknesses and the environment you work in, it can accelerate your leadership development significantly. As one client said to me recently, “I probably would have got there eventually, but this coaching has sped up my learning by 1-2 years.” (Consultant).

Call 0754 0593476 or email me on and talk to me about your leadership role.