Why coach physicians?

Dear  Colleague,

For over twenty years I have enjoyed a gratifying, thriving physician coaching practice, working with doctors from all over the world. Physicians are my niche. I know them inside and out.

Not only am I former  practicing physician myself, but I know every physician type and “archetype” out there. I’ve worked with the kindest of docs, and also the most arrogant. I’ve seen many physicians rise to the challenge of leading healthcare changes, and many buckle under the strain of an increasingly complex system.

For the past twenty-five years I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with and coaching hundreds of the most progressive, innovative, energetic, frustrating, and “daring” doctors in the medical profession.

What I love about my work is that my physician clients have not only transformed themselves but they are also transforming their communities and their organizations. My physician coaching practice has been not only immensely gratifying for me as a coach, but just as importantly, it has been highly rewarding for me as a physician coaching trailblazer.  Well before recent studies demonstrated that physician coaching works to reduce burnout and improve well-being, I was witness to my physician clients’ transformations.

(Learn more about our coach training programs.)

Francine R. Gaillour, MD

Founder and Executive Director, Physician Coaching Institute

Wanted: Highly Motivated Individuals to Specialize in Physician Coaching

But I realize I can’t coach all the physicians who could truly benefit from coaching. My coaching practice is full the brim and I am limiting the number of one-on-one clients I will take. This is one of the reasons I developed the Physician Coaching Institute over fifteen years ago.

The medical profession needs more coaches who understand the underlying drivers of physician stress, burnout and dissatisfaction, who understand the professional aspirations and challenges of doctors, who understand the interpersonal dynamics of physicians and their colleagues, and who can competently coach physicians to get them back on a professional pathway of achievement, balance and joy.

At this point in my coaching career, I am directing my attention to develop highly motivated professionals who want to take on the challenge, and also reap the personal rewards, of coaching an amazingly intelligent, eager, and grateful group of professionals. Twice a year, I lead a  cohort of select individuals in our advanced-level 6-month coach certification program, the Certified Physician Development Coach™.

This is an opportunity to be a super-specialist coach — whether as an entrepreneur coach or an internal organizational coach — and to “heal to the healers.”

Are you cut out to be a Certified Physician Development Coach™?

Before you answer that, let me share with you what is happening in medicine today and why a growing crisis means an opportunity and need for expert coaches who can support physicians.

Accredited by International Coaching Federation

There is No Professional More Deserving of Coaching than Doctors

My physician clients are trying to survive and thrive in a healthcare system that is on the verge of breakdown. Did you know that the medical profession ranks #2 in the top 10 most stressful careers?  Physicians are bearing the brunt of the seismic changes in healthcare.

Here are just a few of the drivers causing enormous change and stress for physicians:

  • An aging population means physicians are spending more time with sicker patients, but reimbursements are actually declining
  • Physicians are expected to meet new “productivity and performance” targets, but this means more patients per day and less personalized time with each patient
  • Health plans are imposing patient quality “report cards” on physicians or else be dropped by the plan, but many physicians are not prepared to meet standards
  • Sophisticated and demanding baby boomers expect immediate access to specialists and treatments, but physicians question the need for costly and unnecessary care
  • The tech-savvy millennial generation are finding a mountain of healthcare information on the Internet, but physicians are expected to sort out the truth from the quackery for them—and oh yea, can you please fit in virtual visits?
  • Stratospheric rise in malpractice insurance is forcing many sub-specialty physicians to leave the profession, and doctors are almost politically powerless to intervene
  • Insurers, health systems and patients are guiding physicians to use electronic medical records, but many physicians are doubting  the value of technology when exam room interactions with the patient are now so impersonal (not to mention the average of 1.7 hours added to their day for electronic charting)
  • Hospitals and health plans increasingly expect physicians to follow clinical protocols, but physicians are distrustful of “cook book” medicine, and also chafe at having to emote “warmth and sincerity” when in truth they are feeling disillusioned and exhausted

And now….. the COVID-19 pandemic.  Learn more about coaching physicians in this time of crisis and uncertainty

To add insult to injury, some physicians’ hostile reactions to these changes are compounding the stress because they are lashing out at their clinical colleagues and staff. You’ve heard about the nursing shortage? In my view, nurses would be a lot happier if physicians would get coaching!

Physicians are under a new kind of stress they never anticipated when they first went to medical school:

Losing sleep because you’re stumped by a complex patient case is one thing.
But losing sleep because you don’t enjoy your work anymore or because you feel ineffectual—
—-well that’s a whole a lot scarier for every smart physician who has spent a lifetime developing mastery.

Are You Competent to Coach These 5 Physician Profiles?

But if you want to succeed coaching physicians, you MUST be advanced trained in coaching physicians. You might think that’s an arrogant statement, but I’m saying it for a good reason:  As a physician, I care deeply about the medical profession and I want physicians to succeed.

Here’s the scoop: We are a complex bunch. Generalized life coaching, executive coaching, or career coaching isn’t enough.

(Learn more about our coach training programs.)

In my client base, there are at least five distinct physician profiles that routinely come to me for coaching help:

  • Physicians who feel their creativity and ingenuity is constrained by medicine and want to expand or transition their career
  • Physicians who truly love medicine but are struggling to regain their well-being and enjoy their practice in the midst of tumultuous change and burn-out
  • Physicians who are in a leadership position and are developing new people and business management skills for first time, and have no idea whether they are effective
  • Physicians who want to develop additional streams of income with health products or new services on the side, and are being “entrepreneurs” for the first time
  • Physicians who have been given feedback that their behavior is difficult or “rough” and are coming to grips with the need to shape up or, well, you know what

Here’s the thing: The majority of my physician clients present with elements of  every single one of those five profiles!

Why Doctors Need a Certified Physician Development Coach™

As a master coach who practiced medicine for many years and who has also coached and consulted with hundreds of physicians, I recognize how physicians fray at the edges. What a doctor states is their “problem” and what they think is the “solution” ain’t necessarily the real story–or the whole story!

I’m going to give you one example of a client who I think might be one my most straightforward cases. Here is the story of Dr. H:

The case of Dr. H

Dr. H came to me expressing a desire to leave medicine and wanted my help finding a new non-clinical career.  The reason he gave for wanting to leave medicine was “I’m tired of the grind.”

What was the real reason underlying his fatigue: No vacation in almost a year, and on call every weekend.

Why: He had burned his bridges over several years with several colleagues who could have shared call with him and supported him building a practice.

Why: He perceived an event that occurred many years ago as being hostile to him and his practice. He carried a grudge for 15 years with another physician.

What we focused on: Developing a broader repertoire of interpersonal communication; repairing relationships with specialty physicians; building collegial relationships with perceived enemies; improving how he delegates to office staff; exploring additional skills and strengths.

Result: Dr. H is thriving in his clinical practice, enjoying his family time, and developing a speaking business on the side.

The case of Dr. H is an example the most straightforward of my clients. This might give you an idea of how even the most seemingly uncomplicated of physicians really  benefits from specialized coaching. Coaching that assesses the  multiple dimensions of physician career fulfillment and keeps these bright individuals fully engaged and serving their community.
Are you ready to become one these specialized coaches for physicians?

What are some of the benefits of becoming a Certified Physician Development Coach™?

There is no need to reinvent the wheel if you’ve thinking about becoming a coach for physicians or expanding your current coaching practice to include physicians— the programs, materials, structure has been done, delivered, and refined by the Physician Coaching Institute and our graduates dozens of times

  • You will learn about healthcare coaching from a physician and a physician who is not only a coach but also a former healthcare business executive who has a unique perspective on delivering coaching programs inside the health system
  • Even if healthcare is currently your broad niche, there’s no getting around the fact you won’t be truly successful unless you thoroughly understand the “doctor dynamic”
  • Coaching physicians is immensely gratifying, and because not everyone is cut out for it, you’ll be among the rare few, listed in the Physician Coaching Institute Directory
  • Your coaching skills are elevated through the integration of “master level” skills taught by our  PCI Coaching Scholar (in addition to Dr. Gaillour, an ICF Master Coach facilitates the coaching core competencies)
  • You will have an opportunity to “mastermind” among fellow Certified Physician Development Coaches with diverse and intriguing backgrounds who can challenge and support you
  • As you go through the training, if you are an “internal coach” within your organization you can begin immediately to have an impact on physician well-being, fulfillment, and collegiality — and for the organization, the result is physician retention
  • As a Certified Physician Development Coach™, you will be able to differentiate your coaching practice and it’s a good bet you’ll be one of the few specialized coaches working with physicians in your geographic region

If you are inspired to learn more about becoming a specialized coach for physicians, I invite you to attend an upcoming free Information Webinar.  You’ll hear more about my journey in establishing the Physician Coaching Institute, what’s required to earn the certification, and what the outlook is for physician coaching.   And by the way, if you are NOT a physician, rest assured that non-clinicians also make effective coaches for doctors. Please use the Inquiry Form to register.


Francine Gaillour, MD
Founder and Executive Director
(206) 686-4205

The Physician Coaching Institute hosts a FREE Informational Webinars several times a year. This is your opportunity to explore whether becoming a Certified Physician Development Coach™ is a good fit with your professional development goals. Please complete the Inquiry Form below to to register for an Informational Webinar.