Rebuilding Physician Confidence by Applying Exam Coaching Skills

Think back to your last professional exam conversation. Did you feel listened to, empowered and valued? Unfortunately, many doctors have left their annual checkups feeling less confident and unsupported, which negatively affects well-being.

While physicians hope to leave their annual assessment feeling heard, valued and supported, “we don’t necessarily see that in these conversations and yet there is growing evidence that speaks to the qualities that our supervising physicians bring – their leadership skills directly impact the well-being and fulfillment and satisfaction of their reports,” said Andrea Sikon, MD, during a session at the International Conference on Physician Health, a collaborative meeting of the AMA, the Canadian Medical Association and the British Medical Association.

That’s why in 2016, “our organization dedicated itself to revising an enhanced annual professional exam experience,” said Dr. Sikon, director of the Center for Excellence in Coaching and Mentoring at the Cleveland Clinic. After carrying out a needs assessment of the department heads and directors who carry out the reviews, “we found that most of them [reviews] for years”, but “very few had received formal training, and most were interested in participating in some kind of training”.

But the Coaching and Mentoring Center of Excellence aimed to change that. Between 2017 and 2021, the center offered 12 executive coaching trainings – 10 full-day in-person sessions and two concurrent half-day virtual trainings. Through the program, 119 healthcare leaders received training on the centre’s coaching framework and competency modules. These trainings moved to full virtual in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of those who participated, 28% indicated that they had never delivered an annual review. However, a third said they had been doing annual assessments for at least three years, but volunteered to participate in coach education. Coach education evaluations revealed that almost 100% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the course was a valuable use of their time and was relevant to their professional practice.

Coach education had an impact on the confidence of leaders in three areas.

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Each leader was asked to rate their confidence in the impact of the coaching fundamentals covered at the start and end of their training.

“We found that, overall, there were significant increases in most of these areas, such as the ability to apply coaching skills in their day-to-day interactions with colleagues, with patients, and in life. personal,” said Elaine Schulte, MD, co-founder of the Center. for excellence in coaching and mentoring.

There was also an increase in “their ability to use asset-based thinking, their opportunities to expand relationships with colleagues across the company, their ability to find meaning at work,” added Dr. Schulte.

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Healthcare leaders involved in coaching education were also asked “to report on their confidence in building a relationship with their report,” Dr. Schulte explained, noting that “increases in their confidence were statistically significant,” including learning “how to ask questions.” powerful questions to reframe and spark new awareness.

Additionally, “they learned to tie a report’s goals to their values” and “helped the report identify strengths, motivations, and values,” she said. Leaders also “engaged in active listening” while feeling “more confident to stay curious, build relationships, and demonstrate empathy.”

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“We asked them to state their confidence in creating accountability with their report,” Dr. Schulte said. “Again, all of these areas demonstrated significant improvements with vocational training.”

This meant that leaders “felt confident to guide the coachee to narrow and prioritize actions, to have the report to summarize new awareness, to get the report to create a timeline to achieve goals and help create and maintain accountability,” she explained. “Our net promoter score revealed that 100% of our participants would recommend this course to a colleague or peer.

“We showed significant increases in the ability to apply coaching skills in everyday interactions, which was an exciting finding,” Dr. Sikon added. Leaders “used these skills with their colleagues, with their patients and in their personal lives.”