I’m often asked about the difference between coaching and mentoring for doctors and public health leaders, as well as career counselling and coaching psychology. Indeed it can seem very confusing!
All four are specific areas of professional development with different foci and with different levels of skill, different levels of effectiveness, and different levels of professionalisation and rigour.
It is well established empirically that professional coaching ‘works’. Four meta-analyses have all shown that coaching positively impact individual-level outcomes ranging from:
- psychological wellbeing
- relationships at work
- employee engagement
- improved performance.
Coaching for doctors and public health leaders can cover any aspect of their professional life, from leadership, careers to wellbeing. Executive coaching in healthcare is an effective way to enhance the performance of medical and health leaders: a specialist medical leadership coach can increase confidence and effectiveness of the medical leader. Life coaching for doctors is a lower-level competency skill but can still improve the lives of doctors in the UK and internationally.
Mentoring tends to be a more informal activity with less evidence for its effectiveness, though there are plenty of informal mentors making a difference to their mentees. Mentors tend to draw heavily on their own experience and mentoring for doctors often focuses on giving advice and / or sponsorship within a professional group or organisation. Mentoring for medical leaders and mentoring for medical directors is a specialist form of professional development and is usually also found in the context of a practitioner who is an expert in medical leadership coaching. Mentoring for public health also exists informally, or in the form of an expert coach for public health specialists who can integrate coaching and mentoring approaches to develop the public health leader.
Career counselling is a very specific form of career guidance which enables the doctor or public health leader to make specific decisions about their career direction. Most career coaches are not actually trained in the process of career counselling. Doctors career advice is also known as doctors career guidance or career advice for doctors, however a doctors career coach is usually not also trained as a doctors career advisor or medical career counsellor. Only a doctors career counsellor is trained in medical career counselling and able to give effective career advice for medics or career advice to public health specialists.
Coaching Psychology is without doubt the jewel in the developmental crown, and the most effective way to ensure high-quality coaching for doctors and coaching for public health specialists. The work of a coaching psychologist is ethically, empirically and theoretically based: they adopt a scientist-practitioner perspective. This combination of empirical evidence base, theoretical understanding, use of reputable guidelines and thorough training, ensures that Chartered Coaching Psychologists deliver ethical practice and interventions, whilst also seeking to evaluate their practice to enable future professional development.
If you are looking for a coach for doctors, coaching for medics, or career advice for doctors, or a career coach for public health, you will want to ensure that any coach or mentor should be ‘Independently Accredited’ by a professional body such as EMCC, ICF, AfC, or a Chartered Psychologist in Coaching Psychology through the British Psychological Society.
Dr Fiona Day (MBChB, FFPH, CPsychol) is a Chartered Consultant Coaching Psychologist and former Board-level medical & public health leader. She is the UK’s leading Coach and Coaching Psychologist for senior doctors, medical and public health leaders. To find out more, please book a free, 15 minute Confidential Career Consultation with Fiona.