Beyond Continuing Medical Education: Clinical Coaching as a Tool for Ongoing Professional Development

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ProblemFor most physicians, the period of official apprenticeship ends with the completion of residency or fellowship, yet the acquisition of expertise requires ongoing opportunities to practice a given skill and obtain structured feedback on one’s performance.ApproachIn July 2013, the authors developed a clinical coaching pilot program to provide early-career hospitalists with feedback from a senior clinical advisor (SCA) at Massachusetts General Hospital. A Hospital Medicine Unit–wide retreat was held to help design the SCA role and obtain faculty buy-in. Twelve SCAs were recruited from hospitalists with more than five years of experience; each served as a clinical coach to 28 early-career hospitalists during the pilot. Clinical narratives and programmatic surveys were collected from SCAs and early-career hospitalists.OutcomesOf 25 responding early-career hospitalists, 23 (92%) rated the SCA role as useful to very useful, 20 (80%) reported interactions with the SCA led to at least one change in their diagnostic approach, and 13 (52%) reported calling fewer subspecialty consults as a result of guidance from the SCA. In response to questions about professional development, 18 (72%) felt more comfortable as an independent physician following their interactions with the SCA, and 19 (76%) thought the interactions improved the quality of care they delivered.Next StepsTo better understand the impact and generalizability of clinical coaching, a larger, longitudinal study is required to look at patient and provider outcomes in detail. Further refinement of the SCA role to meet faculty needs is needed and could include faculty development.

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