We recently joined Dave Etler, Administrative Services Coordinator for Student Affairs and Curriculum with Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, and Carver medical students Amy Young, Aline Sandouk, and Mark Moubarek at The Short Coat Podcast for “weird news, fresh views, helpful blues, and interviews by students, for students” to talk about the value of coaching for medical students.

This all started when a Georgetown faculty member and a former student of Margaret’s thought Jack and I were kindred spirits and so connected us. That meeting led to a coaching relationship and our first Med Ed Pop Up Workshop. We’re writing a series of articles on what it’s like to be coached in medical school.

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The podcast interview

Here is a brief transcript of our conversation:

Dave [to Jack]: “What is it that hooks you in? What secret drug has Maggi fed you?”

Jack: “I think it just feels different than the type of mentorship and guidance that we usually get in traditional medical education. For me, this is about improving who I am as a person and also as a student clinician. It goes beyond the decision of ‘Should I do research?’ ‘What field should I go into?’ and ‘Where should I apply for residency?’

“[Coaching] goes a little bit beyond that and into mindsets and behaviors. The thing that really helps me is I can feel tangible progress every step of the way, and it’s so rewarding as a student when you want so badly to develop into a good physician, and also to maintain balance throughout medical school. Maggi really helps to give me that space to explore how I’m going to do all that, and in an environment that’s a lot different than a classroom where there’re grades, assignments, and lectures.”

Aline: “It sounds a lot like counseling, but with a bit more accountability, and a bit more direction from someone who’s actually in the field you want to go into and has personally experienced this process. Have you ever been through counseling and do you feel this was distinctly different? Have you any thoughts about that?”

Jack: “I’ve never had a counselor, but I’ve talked with friends who have. Maggi and I focus on challenges where we feel we can do something about it. What can we do to move forward? That’s very refreshing as a student because most of us get wrapped up in our heads, start to over-analyze, and dwell on things. Coaching really pulls you out of that vicious cycle of just ruminating on stuff in your head and brings you toward action.”

Maggi: “One of the things as coaches that we like to think is that we’re more focused on action. A therapist, or counselor, might be more like an archaeologist, looking at the past. As a coach, I like to think of myself more as an architect. I’m co-creating the future with my clients.”

Amy: “How would you say that’s different, or is this similar to consulting?”

Maggi: “That’s a great question. I always love that one. If I were a consultant, I would walk in. I’d talk with a bunch of people and I’d say, ‘Here’s what you need to do.’ And then I’d leave.”

Mark: “So the ongoing relationship is the big part?”

Maggi: “Right, usually in six-month increments. (The engagement) is driven by what the coaching client wants and what the organization believes will work with the organization.”

Aline: “So it implies more of an emotional investment and an intellectual investment in your client as opposed to a coaching relationship, which is really focused on increasing efficiency to drive profit-making.”

Maggi: “I get to know my clients in ways sometimes I don’t think their spouses know them.”

Aline: “That’s very appropriate for a doctor. There are things that people tell their doctors that their best friends don’t know, their parents don’t know. It seems like your training as a physician perfectly prepares you for this job in so many ways, not only that you know this field, but also, you understand the importance of how intimate are the details that people are revealing about themselves. And you appreciate that and capitalize on that to help in their lives. That’s awesome.”

For the rest of the conversation, check out http://theshortcoat.com/the-value-of-coaching-in-medicine/.

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Margaret Cary, MD, MBA, MPH and Jack Penner
Maggi Cary (L) is a family doctor and leadership coach who engages her audiences in highly interactive presentations. Maggi is a doctor’s doctor with a physician’s mind and a friend’s heart. As an executive coach, she blends a scientist’s thinking with empathy. She translates the latest research in leadership development into her coaching process and into entertaining and highly interactive presentations. She is an author, trainer, facilitator, and teacher (Georgetown University School of Medicine). Her authenticity and ability to communicate and connect emotionally with her audience through storytelling—combined with just enough humor—result in rave reviews and standing ovations. She embodies a warm, sincere approach in sharing lessons learned as she guides you in creating your own Leadership Expedition. Jack Penner (R) is a medical student at Georgetown University with an interest in primary care, healthcare leadership, and medical education. He served as a coordinator of Georgetown’s Student-run Free Clinic at the DC General Homeless Shelter, where he created programs in youth mentorship and maternal health. His writing focuses on the medical student experience and helping fellow students develop into engaged, compassionate physicians.


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