Maya M. Hammoud, MD, MBA, the AMA’s director of medical education innovation, co-edited the coaching handbook.
“Academic coaching focuses on student-centered development, which capitalizes on students' strengths and empowers them to be leaders,” said Dr. Hammoud, also professor of obstetrics and gynecology and learning health sciences at the University of Michigan Medical School.
“As health care becomes more and more complex, and physicians take a variety of roles in the system, it is important that medical students develop good habits of self-reflection and are able to define and pursue their individual goals,” she said. “Effective coaches help learners reach their goals which leads to high levels of achievement and personal satisfaction so they develop to their fullest potential as physicians.”
Help students take the reins
Learner-coaching programs are not in place at most medical schools, but they have become more common in recent years.
Nicole M. Deiorio, MD, co-edited the AMA coaching handbook. Dr. Deiorio believes the traditional student-adviser role is less relevant in modern medical education.
“Advisers are set up to answer students’ questions, but sometimes the student is still learning what they need to be working on,” said Dr. Deiorio, a professor of emergency medicine and assistant dean for student affairs at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). “Coaching fixes many of those potential holes.
“Students need to be more active in the education process today, as opposed to models in the past, where you just showed up and performed at a reasonable level for four years,” she added. “Now, students have to take responsibility for the depth of their education.”
OHSU boasts a robust academic coaching program, with 32 faculty coaches working with the med school’s 600 students. The program is entering its fourth year, meaning the first cohort of students who benefited from coaching throughout their medical education will graduate in the spring.
Dr. Deiorio has noticed a difference.
“Students are already coming into their later years of medical education with an understanding that it’s OK to have areas that you’re working on,” Dr. Deiorio said. “That’s typical and part of our culture here. We try to address that head on and not have that be something that you are hiding from classmates. We have seen strides in normalizing that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.”
The coaching handbook is being distributed at the AMA ChangeMedEd™ 2017 National Conference, taking place Sept. 14–16 in Chicago.