Coaching – Case Studies
I’ve compiled a couple of examples of my work. They aren’t “case studies” in the Harvard Business School sense; rather, they’re collages of challenges and results, and they say at least as much about my clients as about me.
Whether you read them because you’re thinking of hiring me, or to discover what goes into a successful physician / outside advisor relationship, or to explore ways to be more effective in what you do, listen on two levels.
One level consists of the things you can see that I do: advisory conversations, facilitation, one-on-one coaching sessions – the tools of my work.
The other level, invisible but arguably much more important, is the quality of the relationships my clients have with me and with themselves. I’m fortunate to have clients who recognize that in order to provide better patient care and lead others, they must first work on themselves.
I’m privileged to work with great physicians and physician leaders, and I’m inspired on a daily basis by their dedication to self-growth, the growth of others in their organizations, and the difference their work makes in the well-being and life of their patients.
Here are some of their stories of our work together. Enjoy…
Physician Leadership: From roughness around the edges to profitable department
Situation: Highly successful surgeon was denied promised leadership position. Roughness around the edges and disgruntled colleagues got in his way of being promoted in a program director role. The hospital gave him 12 months to work on himself before reconsidering his promotion. The surgeon was upset and started accepting phone calls from physician recruiters.
The Work: Over a time period of 4 months we had provocative conversations about his role, his behavior, and interpersonal skills. Initially resigned to take on this leadership position, conversations on the vision of the program, emotional control during heated discussions, stress control, and many others helped him to reignite his passion.
During role plays and conversations about more effective communication skills he became more comfortable to lead conversations that he avoided in the past.
The Result: After just 4 months (instead of 12) the hospital administration promoted this surgeon into the leadership role. He now leads one of the most profitable departments in the hospital.
To find out more about the Balanced Physician Leadership program, click here.
On-Boarding: Full practice and work-life balance
The Situation: A young female ob / gyn starts her career at a hospital that is 100 miles away from home. She and her husband decided not to uproot their teenage children. While she and her 12 year old daughter moved into an apartment near the hospital, her husband and their 2 teenage children stayed in the hometown until they finish High School. Transitioning into a new job while juggling two households is a very difficult situation.
The Process: The hospital provides a 12-month coaching program to all their newly hired physicians to support them during the job transition and to increase retention.
The separation from the family created big challenges and required better communication skills, teamwork and smart scheduling.
Long hours at work and an EMR system with lots of glitches threw her behind in her charting which caused additional anxiety and stress.
In the on-boarding coaching program she learned new ways of increasing her efficiency in the workplace by setting effective boundaries, delegating tasks, and communicating requests for performance improvement.
The Result: This physician built a strong foundation within the first year at her new workplace. The 360 assessment revealed that she is liked and appreciated by her colleagues and staff. She has a full practice and receives valued recommendation from her patients. The CEO of the hospital commented, “she is a pleasure to work with and she is a physician who comes to me with solutions and new ideas to make a difference.”
Physician Performance: From lowest performer to mid-range performer
The Situation: The practice manager of a medium-sized pediatrician group asked me to work with one of their physicians. This pediatrician was a highly stressed, very emotional and one of the lowest performers in the group even though she spent every night 2-3 hours additionally working on her charts after a 10 hour day in the office. The practice leadership recommended her to engage in a performance improvement coaching program.
The Process: At the beginning of our first conversation this physician was very resigned, defensive and guarded. As soon as she realized that this program was a support program to help her find more work-life balance while increasing her performance at work, she opened up and really took on the coaching and assignments. We worked on a variety of topics, from stress control, efficiency with the EMR system, setting boundaries with staff members and patients to vacation time, office design, and housework delegation.
The Result: Within 4 months of intense coaching the pediatrician made tremendous progress. She was able to reduce her charting time at home to an hour each night (on average) and she moved up to the mid-range performance level (a level where she wanted to be); the first time ever. At the same time she had more time available to spend with her family and to engage in a physical exercise routine that was very important for her to control her stress level.
Sometimes physician think they have to give up work-life balance in order to be more successful in their practice. But having a coach by your side who supports you in learning to optimize systems, improve interpersonal skills, and streamline life allows greater performance with more personal time. If you think you’d like to improve your work performance with the help of a coach, please contact me.
Becoming a more effective communicator in practice and life
The Client: A part-time anesthesiologist of Indian culture was very distraught by the judgments and remarks of her colleagues. She described her work place as discriminative sometimes and she was at the brink of leaving the practice and pursuing a different career. She gave me the permission to speak with the 2 managing partners of the group who told me that a couple of surgeons complained about her communication style and that it was very important to them that the practice kept good relationships with the surgeons at the hospital.
The Process: In the 4 months we worked together we focused on 3 major topics; one was her awareness of her communication style. She spoke very quickly and therefore many of her patients and colleagues didn’t understand her correctly which added confusion and sometimes misunderstanding to her work environment.
Due to the (as she described sometimes) hostile environment she was under a lot of stress and she felt her work was under a microscope at times. In our time together she learned more effective ways to control stress effectively and how to build stronger relationships with the surgeons and colleagues in order to be more collaborative and to enjoy her workplace.
The Result: The anesthesiologist was an eager learner who made rapid improvement. Practicing more effective communication skills lead to an instant shift in her relationship with colleagues and patients. She was able to control her emotions more effectively in conflict situations and learned not to take these situations personally. Recently she shifted to a full-time position in her practice and she feels very happy and satisfied with her work now.
Work-Life Balance: From burnout to efficiency and personal well-being
The Client: An oncologist who was well-liked by the staff, colleagues, and patients but 6 months earlier contributed to a major medical error. It didn’t end in a medical malpractice lawsuit but he was very much affected by the incident. As a result, colleagues and staff felt his heightened stress level, the decreased performance and lack of focus. This physician was at the brink of burnout and the hard work over the past years had taken its toll.
The Process: We immediately spent time on renewing his sense of well-being. He discovered that his performance, focus, and energy went down every since he had his bike accident which stopped his fitness program abruptly. He explored new ways of integrating fitness and well-being as a daily routine in his life. We looked at several ways of simplifying his personal life, improving his efficiency and delegation skills, and he practiced new ways to stay in control of his emotions, keep his focus in the presence and keep a positive attitude.
The Result: This physician regained his passion for oncology. He now has the tools and awareness to keep stress controlled in his life and make the time for his personal fitness and well-being in order to stay focused and present in his work.
Regaining passion for medicine through self-management and self care
The Client: An ob/gyn was referred by the managing partner who was concerned about his work performance. His schedule was by far not as busy as the ones of his colleagues. He ran behind with his paperwork. The staff voiced frustration that they always ended their work days late, making them rush to pick up children from day care and missing personal obligations.
The Process: Early on in our conversation, the physician realized that he wasn’t very satisfied in his work. He dreaded going to the office and contemplated a career change.
In the beginning we focused on his energy management; he tolerated a lot of inefficiencies at home and at the workplace. He used to play Badminton a couple of nights a week but stopped that a couple of years ago. Small changes that focused on his well-being and collaborative communication and planning with his wife lifted not only his spirits but also his enthusiasm for medicine.
The Result: He was able to tap back into his passion for medicine and he worked on strategies to build up his patient load. Since he loves to spend time with his patients, we worked on strategies to continue being relationship-oriented without getting behind in the schedule and his charting. He now feels more balanced and in control of his schedule while making more time for his personal well-being.
Physician leadership: Becoming a more effective leader in practice and in life
The Client: A young and well established orthopedic surgeon in private practice was elected as chief of staff for his department in the hospital where he practices. Even though he assessed his leadership skills as good, he also knew that more effective leadership skills, time management skills, and communication skills were required to succeed in this new role.
The Process: The goal of our work together was to raise his leadership skills to a more effective level. During this time he crystallized his vision for this new role, he learned and applied useful communication skills, and he increased his awareness of his self-management and how it impacts the people around him. I shadow coached him during his staff meeting and gave him valuable feedback on his communication style and presentation skills.
The Result: He feels competent and confident in his new role as chief of staff. He is aware of different leadership styles and uses them appropriately for the situation. He noticed an improvement in the performance of his staff and he credits it to his improved communication and the acknowledgment that he shares with them. He has been receiving positive verbal feedback from the hospital administration and also favorable behavioral feedback (360 assessment) from his colleagues.
Disruptive Behavior: From rudeness to collaboration
The client: A cardiologist at a small town hospital was recommended to engage in coaching due to his abrupt communication style and sometimes rude behavior. His goal was to cultivate his emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.
The Process: The physician has a high drive to move his department forward but his communication and relation style created a big wedge between him and the hospital administration / board. In this 6 month program he worked extensively on his emotional awareness, emotional control and his communication skills. He cleaned up conflicts from the past, he engaged in collaborative conversations with the hospital administrators and he always worked on new ways to encourage and acknowledge his staff for improved performance. His drive for a better cardiology program lead him to a new way of relating to the staff and people around him.
The Result: He feels more confident in his interaction with people and due to his improved communication style, he realizes that more people follow his lead and provide him the requested resources. He also learned to find more work-life balance by controlling stress effectively and keeping communication crises away.