Educators to Coaches: Tools for Better Medical Education
Coaching asks. Advising tells. Mentorship shows.
Coaching encourages spending more time probing, listening, and asking questions. These are all things we want our educators and students to master in the new Mission-Driven MD Program.
To prepare faculty, our latest Core Educator Retreat centered around coaching. We hope you use the following lessons as tools to become innovative, compassionate, and purposeful coaches to all our students.
What Can We Learn from Coaching Basketball?
The Learner-Centered Coach
Meg Wolf, MD, MHPE, keynote speaker from the University of Michigan, spoke about learner-centered coaching. When we use these skills, we help students become lifelong learners.
A learner-centered coach is:
- A skilled communicator
To build these attributes, Wolf recommends the following:
- Stop being an expert: Coaching is a relationship; stop telling or finding solutions FOR the students.
- Ask questions: To make your questions more powerful, ask “What?” and “How?” questions. “Why?” questions can put people in a defensive mode.
- Practice mindful listening: Words are only one part of how we communicate. Listen to tone, body language, eye contact, etc.
- Utilize reflections: After they speak, reflect what you heard back to them.
To be the best coach possible, Wolf suggests adopting a coaching method. No one method is better than the other, and you may find that certain methods work better with different students.
Fostering Reflection in the Mission-Driven Program
Non-reflective educators will not make reflective students. I invite all faculty to think of ways they can bring reflection into medical education and their own lives. You are learners too.
Addressing Microaggressions in Academic Health
The “micro” in microaggression does not reflect the impact of the statement, but rather the subtlety of it. Here are a few examples of microaggressions:
- “Your name, it’s different. You’re not from here, are you?”
- “You are so smart, why didn’t you become a nurse?”
- “You are so well spoken.”
- “She is so exotic looking.”
What we want our educators to know is that microaggressions do exist, that they cause harm, and that you can interrupt them. To learn more about the harm microaggressions cause, we invite you to watch this video.
As we begin the Mission-Driven MD Program, I hope faculty and staff will use these tools to set themselves up for successful, meaningful coaching relationships. Take Coach Roberts’ advice to adapt and meet the students where they are. If we do that, we will build a strong future of bright, compassionate, and reflective physicians.
Our retreats have one goal: to inspire, inform, and connect. I encourage all who did not attend this June session to look out for our next retreat in early 2024.
Kerri Shaffer, MEd, MLIS
Kerri Shaffer is Director of Curriculum and Faculty Support at the University of Utah Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine. Shaffer is focused on operationalizing School of Medicine values and priorities and supporting faculty with the implementation of curriculum. She received a MEd from the Department of Education, Culture, and Society at the University of Utah and an MLIS from San Jose State School of Library and Information Science. She is currently a PhD candidate in Information Science at State University of New York at Buffalo.