My first employed role as a Coach
Over the last week, I’ve been thinking about my first public health job and I thought you’d be interested to know more. Plus my husband mentioned yesterday that he’d heard that ‘you can get referred to Tai Chi on the NHS these days, isn’t that amazing?’. Well yes, it is amazing (and I couldn’t resist adding that we’d been doing that 25 years ago). I also realised that it was my first (employed) role as a Coach.
Leading on social prescribing
I’d just completed my Masters in Health Promotion & Health Education, specialising in emotional wellbeing, and started to work part time as a ‘Senior Health Promotion Officer’ in rural Scotland. My job was to lead the local social prescribing service, in the form of an established ‘exercise referral scheme’ (where health professionals could refer their patients into community based activities to augment their health needs).
Why our exercise referral scheme was different
We wanted our exercise referral scheme to be about promoting physical activity in the population which also reduced inequality. We knew that meant it needed to be about more than ‘gym/swim’ and about ‘being active, independently, for life’. I trained primary care and leisure centre staff in health coaching skills, and set up pathways into low and no-cost community based activities.
Training GPs & leisure centre staff in health coaching
I had been training in and learning to use coaching skills myself since 1990, however the health coaching skills I now teaching included goal setting and motivational interviewing. These are also skills which you can hone and use as medical and public health leaders in the context of your day job!
Goal setting is an evidence-based method of coaching psychology to promote motivation in others. In my previous role, this meant helping the clinicians and leisure centre staff to identify person-centred goals freely chosen by their patient/client. For example, rather than ‘reduce my weight’ or ‘reverse my diabetes’, goals were more likely to be ‘I want to feel happy with my appearance at my son’s wedding next year’, ‘I want to be able to stay in my own home and continue to manage the stairs’. It may seem obvious now, but it was cutting edge back then!
Motivational interviewing is also an evidence-based method of coaching psychology to promote motivation, build confidence, and reduce resistance to change ‘roll with resistance’. Last year I was asked to write a book review for the journal ‘The Coaching Psychologist’ on third wave approaches to coaching: one of the chapters was on Motivational Interviewing. I had a wry smile, it was good to see how the evidence has grown over the years!
Want to train as a Health Leader-as-Coach? My EMCC accredited coaching skills course is now in progress
Last week, the first group of health leaders learning coaching skills at EMCC Foundation level met for the first time. It was lovely to see you all and to work together. As our day concluded, we were talking about using motivational interviewing skills, and I mentioned that I had been teaching GPs motivational interviewing in my first public health job.
I’ll be releasing dates for February 2024 shortly, please get in touch if you would like to be one of the first to know about early-bird prices and to secure one of the 9 places.
Coaching is an evidence-based intervention to support you with your professional life
I have a review of the evidence regarding the impact of leadership coaching about to be published in BMJ Leader- more on this soon. In the meantime, here is a link to a summary of the evidence for coaching for leadership, careers and wellbeing.
Dr Fiona Day (MBChB, FFPH, CPsychol) is a Medical & Public Health Leadership Coach, and former Board-level medical and public health leader. She is the UK’s leading Coach and Chartered Coaching Psychologist for medical and public health leaders. Sign up for the Health Career Success Programme and get 3 hours of free CPD!