To grow one’s sense of purpose and professional identity, it requires a mix of self-reflection, interpersonal engagement, and self-directed action. However, learning cultures in medical schools often do not promote these practices because of an over-emphasis on performance and assessment. The coaching program is designed to create an environment where faculty and students can engage in professional socialization and development outside of the performance and assessment aspect of medical education.
When students begin their medical student experience, the program will assign students a faculty coach. Students are encouraged to meet with their coach at least once a semester, but many students meet more often than that. In the beginning, the coach will serve as a resource to reflect on one’s strengths and professional direction. The coach will also help students with understanding the importance of professional networking and setting goals. The most important outcome is that the faculty coach and the student develop a sense of trust and a sense that the coach is there for the best interest of the student.
The student and coach dyad will continue for all years of the medical student experience, thus providing a longitudinal foundation for the professional relationship to develop and deepen.
Consider an impactful mentor that you may have had in medical school. How did this person help you? How did knowing this person increase your learning and your engagement with the profession of medicine? Did this person take the time to learn about you and understand you? It’s very likely that they did. We believe that “being known” and “being understood” by someone in the learning environment is critical to learning and becoming professionally engaged.
As a result of the coaching program, we would like students to say when they graduate, “The medical school cared about me, and I was known by people in the school.”