I experienced a doctor’s life for many years, in spite of the heavy work load the frustration and the exhaustion which went along with it, I am grateful for certain aspects of the life of doctors.
I know now that it was truly a privilege to be able to communicate with people from all sorts of backgrounds, education, and in various emotional and physical states. It is special whereby as a doctor you are trusted with information not shared with anyone else. The patient trusts you with what they want to unburden and it is something which a doctor has to learn to accept and deal with.
Being a doctor goes beyond the conversation and the exchange of words: it also involves the physical examination, during which the patient may reveal more information that is helpful towards the diagnosis and treatment; and then there is the intellectual stimulation for the doctor of deciding what might be the reason for the symptoms, and initiating further investigations and treatment.
I’m grateful for:
- Being able to listen to what people tell the doctor. Doctors must listen twice as much as speak and not jump to conclusions immediately. This was not always easy in medical consultation when limited by too little time per patient.
- Knowing there is always the question: what do you want? Patients approach with a long list of symptoms and your heart goes into your boots but what they want is for you to sign something not turn their whole life around.
- Noticing what isn’t being said People may use an excuse such as ‘I’ve got a cold’ as acceptable when they really want to say ‘I think I’ve got cancer.’
- Being interested in people. People are all interesting and a doctor must try not to make judgements. Realising that people will only do what they are willing to do.
- Patients will only do what they will do however strongly you tell them to change their lifestyle there will always be excuses if they don’t want to follow your advice.
So a doctor’s life taught me many things now used during coaching.
- Listening rather than talking is important because by listening you can enable another person to discover their own solutions.
- ‘What do you want?’ is a vital question to get people to set their goal in life and what they want to achieve with coaching. People are fixated on what they don’t want.
- During coaching, asking challenging questions helps to find out what isn’t being said.
- Being interested in people is vital for a coach.
- Coaching works when it enables people to decide for themselves what they will do rather than being prescriptive as a doctor must be, because even when you tell people to do this or that they decide for themselves.