Canadian Medical Association

By Mary-Ellen Hynd, MBA, CPCC, PCC

What is coaching?

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.

One of my favourite definitions of coach is a carriage that gets you from one place to another in style. A coach wholistically shines the light on you as a “human being” versus a “human doing” through 100% focused recharging sessions that empower and hold you accountable to achieve your personal and professional best.

How can coaching help?

Coaching can help physicians and medical students in the following ways:

  • build resilience to navigate through the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic
  • support physicians who are stuck, burned out or suffering from imposter syndrome
  • help physicians develop the leadership skills they need to be confident, emotionally intelligent leaders with executive presence
  • guide physicians though major life changes, whether it’s starting a new role or pursuing an idea for a new business

A professional coach* can help in these situations. Read on to learn more about coaching and how it can support physician wellness and sustainability.

*Many physician coaching services are available, some of which require a fee; the CMA does not endorse any specific service.

Why is coaching effective?

Coaching is a journey of transformation. From a neuroscience perspective, coaches help clients to create new neural pathways. At first these are tenuous connections, but with practice, reflection, support and repetition, they become reliable new ways of being and relating, leading to greater fulfillment.

Coaching reduces stress. When we are stressed, it is much more difficult to control our impulses, have empathy, think creatively and make effective plans. When stress is reduced through the tools and techniques of professional coaching, clients become more creative versus reactive and they become more emotionally intelligent in their relationships. 

Coaching supports clients to “return to themselves.” Coaches help people to find their own resiliency and capacity during times of uncertainty. This restores some sense of control and the ability to see more opportunity in what feels like an uncontrollable world.

Coaching helps process emotions. The release and acknowledgement of true feelings and concerns in a trusted space is liberating and calming. Identifying limiting assumptions and beliefs prompts a shift into more open and responsive mindsets.

Coaching uses the reflection-action-reflection cycle of learning. A coach can help clients to identify what they want, try some things to put into action, reflect on what they learned and then continue this positive cycle as they move into new ways of being and therefore generate new results in their lives.

Coaching is outcome focused. Goals and growth outcomes are established at the start of a coaching relationship to support accountability, monitor progress and empower new learning.

Partnering with a coach is a lifetime investment that can set physicians on a clear path to greater personal and professional fulfillment. Coaching sessions are often conducted online or by telephone, which works well for time-pressed physicians.

Many physician coach programs are offered through provincial medical associations, such as the Medical Society of Prince Edward Island’s Physician Coaching Program. More information can be found through provincial and territorial medical association websites.

Canadian Physician Coaches Network

The Canadian Physician Coaches Network (CPCN) is a one-stop resource for highly skilled and certified coaches with experience supporting physicians and other health care professionals.

Its Member Coach Directory enables you to easily search for coaches and provides links to detailed biographies to help you to choose the right coach for your needs.

Mary-Ellen Hynd is an ICF-Accredited global coach and strategist known for unlocking potential and moving ideas to meaningful action through leadership, sustainability and communication. She specializes in physician burnout and leadership coaching and is an active member of the Canadian Physician Coaches Network.


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