Don’t advocate for your coachees
Coaches aren’t middlemen. Instead, a good coach should be teaching students to advocate for themselves, as they will have to do as physicians.
An example that Dr. Deiorio mentioned was an instance when a student was having an academic problem related to the student’s performance and the student’s struggle to navigate the system. An inexperienced coach may want to jump in and tell the student the solution to the problem, or give feedback to the administration based on what the student has reported.
As an alternative to performing outreach on behalf of the student, Dr. Deiorio recommends a coach ask the student in such a situation:
“How can [you] navigate student-support services to get what you need, or what are the feedback mechanisms that you already know about in the curriculum?”
That puts the ball back in the student’s court to solve the problem.
Don’t make assumptions about who will benefit
Students who are struggling can certainly gain from their experiences working with a coach, but they aren’t alone. Even the strongest student has room for growth. It’s incumbent upon a coach to identify areas for improvement and then work with the student to address them.
“Unless you are functioning at the level of the best attending ever, there’s something that you can get out of coaching,” Dr. Deiorio said. “Some students are reluctant, but a really skilled coach can draw them out.”
The coaching handbook features eight chapters. Each one was written by faculty members at a school in the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. Topics within the text include “Building a coaching relationship with learners,” “Coaching diversity and change,” and “Evaluating coaching programs.”