Wanted: Coaching - in the Healthcare Space
By Sean Hennessey
Office of Strategic Communications
It’s well-established that the mission critical goal for the healthcare industry is to help others; whether it’s the doctors, nurses, rehabilitation team, or other health professionals working directly with a patient, or the behind-the-scenes employees assisting or educating the patient-facing team, the result is the same: help make the patient’s life better.
But who is looking out for the healthcare providers? Who is helping make their professional journey better or their careers more fulfilling? Who is helping them avoid burnout while facing the enormous challenges of today’s healthcare delivery?
One key group is Coaches. And we’re not talking about the Bill Belichick type.
On the career development tree, healthcare coaches are a key branch that’s been growing for the past decade. This November, the MGH Institute of Health Professions is holding a two-day conference to help health professions educators and leaders expand their knowledge, skills, and networking in coaching.
“Leading Across Professions 2022: Building Your Coaching Capacity” will be held November 4-5, at the MGH Institute’s Charlestown Navy Yard campus. The innovative two-day in-person workshop will feature one of the pioneers in coaching, Dr. Richard E. Boyatzis, who is considered an expert in the field of emotional and social intelligence, behavior change, and compassionate coaching. He has launched landmark studies on the competencies of coaching that have resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed publications, as well as authored nine books in the areas of coaching, leadership, and management.
Along with the expertise of Dr. Boyatzis, experts from Massachusetts General Hospital and the MGH Institute will be leading presentations, workshops, discussions, and breakout sessions that will include case studies, tools, research, interactive activities, and skills-based peer coaching practice. The course will count for academic credit within the IHP’s Master of Health Administration degree.
While trained coaches have been shown to be very impactful, the main groups of people helping healthcare professionals in individual and team development are the colleagues, leaders, and educators who provide mentoring, teaching, and coaching.
“This conference will focus on why the skills of coaching are important to healthcare educators and leaders,” said Betsy Cox, the Institute’s Associate Director of Continuing and Professional Development in the School of Healthcare Leadership and one of the event’s organizers. “Coaching skills require a mind shift from the typical problem-solving approach coming up the solution to a more developmental approach recognizing the person has the answer with-in them.” Through introduction of a coaching model, demonstrations, and peer coaching learning labs, attendees will increase their comfort level and skill set in facilitating a coaching conversation while developing a mini-coaching plan for applying coaching when they leave the workshop.
This interprofessional conference will feature experts who work in organizational behavior, health professions education, medicine, nursing, social work, and healthcare leadership. The main takeaway? Help participants coach with compassion, coach for performance, or both.
“It’s important to have somebody who understands your journey and your space so that they can help you navigate that a little bit more clearly,” says Bobbie Ann Adair White, an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Professions Education in the School of Healthcare Leadership, who will present at the conference and facilitate sessions. “Coaching is often the best way to facilitate a conversation that can help people move forward on whatever it is that they need. Some people use coaching for wellness, some use it for performance, and some use it just to help people reach their potential. Essentially, coaching is to help people move forward.”
Helping healthcare leaders reach their potential is what Dr. Kerri Palamara has been researching and executing as head of the Center for Physician Well-being at Massachusetts General Hospital. She created and directs the Physician Development Coaching program for trainees at MGH, which has expanded nationally to over 40 residency and fellowship programs. Palamara also will be presenting at the conference.
“As health professionals, we use coaching in all of our relationships – with our patients, colleagues, learners, family, friends, and can even learn to use them on ourselves!” said Palamara. “Coaching skills most importantly help us become better listeners, where we are not trying to fix everything. Rather, through listening, we can create the space for others to explore their challenges and consider what those challenges mean for them. When we aren’t so busy trying to fix, we can bear witness, acknowledge, reflect, and hear what’s behind others’ words. What’s really important to them. From there, powerful questions help us help others to explore their areas for growth and how to move forward in creative ways.”
Mike Boutin, Jr. Asst Dean of Faculty and Student Success in the MGH Institute’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences will be presenting at the conference and working with various workshops. He says coaching is a benefit to the coach and to the ‘coachee.’
“In the coaching relationship, the coachee is empowered to set goals, explore options and obstacles, and establishes accountability to meet those goals,” said Boutin. “The coach learns to not be the ‘fixer’ but instead, empowers others to be their own problem solvers and to think creatively about personal and professional growth.”
A highlight of conference will be Boyatzis, who has been researching coaching for decades. He developed the theory of intentional change back in 1970 and has been contributing to the coaching culture ever since.
"Every health care professional can benefit from having a coach, and they can benefit from being a coach,” says Boyatzis. “The most effective coaches inspire an openness to learning and change. When engaging others and focusing on purpose and vision, care and attention, personal renewal occurs for the coach and the client as a result of Parasympathetic arousal, better treatment adherence, and greater engagement in team activities. Sadly, traditional approaches to coaching and helping rely on focusing on specific goals and telling people what they should do reposts in them becoming helping bullies. Effective coaching as part of any helping relationship activates neural networks needed to be open to change and others. This helps the coach and the client, quality of health care, and the health care institutions.”
The benefits of coaching in the healthcare space are easy to appreciate. Coaching has proven successful in promoting, developing, and retaining employees and it has shown to be essential in the development of effective leadership, emotional and social intelligence, clinical teaching, strengthening teams, and building the next generation of leaders.
“Coaching can help professionals articulate their purpose, change their behavior, thoughts and feelings, and it can facilitate impactful relationships,” says Cox. “Bottom line, coaching is an incredibly impactive tool any educator or leader in the health professions should have in their proverbial toolbox.”
For more information or to sign up for the conference, click here.
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