Physician Coaching for Physicians and Physician Leaders
Cathy Lanteri, MD, FAPA, CPDC
JM is a 35 year old pediatrician who was successful at her academic institution but found no energy to enjoy life outside of medicine. At work, she was known for taking on whatever projects were asked of her. Lately she was snapping at staff and showed little tolerance for parent questions. Her department chair called her in to let her know this was getting in the way of her patient care.
When she initially called, she was questioning her medical competence. The amount of work on her plate was daunting. She felt exhausted. She was resentful of colleagues who seemed to have pleasure in their lives. She no longer found patient contact rewarding.
In our conversations she noticed all her energy was focused on work. She decided to set new work and personal boundaries, put limits on committee activities and writing commitments. She asserted her need for a call schedule that worked in her life. This gave her time for friends and hiking. JM began to enjoy her work again. She became more productive in her writing and gained renewed satisfaction from her patients. Her personal life became more fulfilling and she expanded her social activities.
SJ is a 52 year old health care leaderwho was not advancing professionally as he expected. Management reviews said he had a tendency to dominate meetings and alienate peers by stifling input from others. SJ prided himself on good relationships and was surprised to hear this. In thinking about the feedback, SJ could see the communication style he thought was showing leadership was actually limiting his effectiveness.
He used this information to transform his leadership identity into someone that led by including and empowering others. He found ways to facilitate the growth of department members. Colleagues increasingly asked his involvement. He subsequently was chosen to lead a large department.
AB is a 42 year old surgeon who was feeling burned out. He focused on high productivity to create financial stability for his family, but his work schedule left him isolated and worn out. He was impatient with his staff and irritable with his patients.
AB stepped back to look at the balance in his life and found he was overlooking time for relaxation and hobbies. He remembered the great pleasure he found in music. He gave this up several years ago when building his practice. AB realized how much he missed the enjoyment music brought him. He changed his work schedule to allow time to resume playing the guitar. His new clarity about what was important in his life also helped him identify a chronic stress in his practice. It was caused by an employee who repeatedly challenged his authority. He spoke with the employee, setting clear expectations for her behavior. When she continued to undermine him, she was fired. He now enjoys surgery, working with his staff, and looks forward to playing his music and spending time with his family.