ABSTRACT: Beyond Continuing Medical Education: Clinical Coaching as a Tool for Ongoing Professional Development
For 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.
In 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.
Of 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.
To 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.