The Power of Physician Life Coaching

Many physicians wonder if having a coach will better their lives. Some are hurting and want to recover. Others are at the end of their rope and are seeking a way out of their career. Still others just want to be their best self. 

I have read debates on the value of physician coaching. Through the years I have had experience both as a coach and as a student. I know firsthand that a coach can make a huge difference. Even those who operate at the highest level, such as Olympic athletes, have coaches. The coach often is not able to do what the athlete does, but the athlete could not perform at such a high level without the help of the outside opinion and direction of his or her coach.

Who better to tell you the effects of coaching than a student whose life was drastically changed by my High Performance Coaching Program. After working with me for nearly one year, the life this physician now leads has markedly improved in all areas of her life including: her medical practice, as a wife, and as a mother. 

This client recently read a blog I wrote that made reference to me desiring my return to surgery. It was something a tour of the new emergency room in our hospital lead me to feel, but in reality, that ship has sailed. I can no longer go back without retraining now that I have been out of surgery for so long. But I am so thankful that the article inspired the following letter sent to me by my client. This letter was the high point of my week.

Following is the letter I received. It has been altered to remove all identifying factors to make it anonymous and is presented with the permission of the author. 

Dear Dr. Fawcett,

My High Performance Planner is suggesting I surprise someone with a note, a gift, or a sign of appreciation.  Today is your day! 

I read your recent article about considering coming out of retirement to do surgery again. If I were your high performance coach, I’d advise you not to do it. 

There are plenty of surgeons who can do what you did performing surgery. Sure, you can make a difference in one person’s life by fixing a hernia or removing an appendix. But there aren’t many retired surgeons who can make an impact on other physicians’ lives like you are doing.  Not only are you impacting my life, but your lessons are impacting my entire family for the better and impacting my practice as patients are benefiting from my coaching as well.  

After almost a year of working together, I am now taking care of myself which I had not been doing previously.  I have been joyful every day this week. While I fell off my exercise program last week, I have been consistent with my weight lifting and interval training this week. I am getting physically stronger.  I am mentally stronger. All because of your coaching. 

I have wanted to start my own private clinic since 2017 but I never pursued it. I leaned on the excuses of lack of time and financial constraints. While I may not yet have an office, I know I can get temporary space until I find and am financially ready for a commercial property of my own. It will soon be a reality! I stopped a hated job that took so much time from my family, despite the loss of income, knowing I can do better as the owner of my own clinic.  I’m about to purchase my first piece of equipment for the office, at a fraction of the list price! My spouse is going to train as an EMT.  We will then train together for ACLS and it will be so much fun for us to work together in my new private practice as my husband shares a love of learning, especially learning about the human form.  

I’ve forgone extended vacations thinking I couldn’t afford the time off both for the loss of the income and the expense of the trip itself.  Like your book says, my vacations were usually folded into CME time, where I attended lectures and the family did fun things or I just stayed home to clean up the house and catch up on paperwork. Since you convinced me of the importance of taking time off to recharge, I’ve taken two extended weekends and am about to take my second vacation this year. This is the first time in my entire life I am taking a full two+ weeks off from work!  

I’m getting my finances together and am well on my way to conquering my debt.  I’m no longer dreading doing my finances since I changed my mindset from “I must pay these bills,” to “I’m fixing my finances.” My office is neat, clean, and better organized. I am currently reading your book on Navigating a Financial Crisis.  I have identified things that I have been meaning to sell and am now, with my husband’s help, preparing these things to sell. I can now see a bright financial future for our family.

The Positive Parenting with a Plan book you recommended started our family on a program that is working marvelously!  My house is clean, and I don’t have to do much at all! The kids are often not following the rules so a lot of chores are getting done as the consequences of their actions, including weeding the garden, and grooming the pets. 

But most important to me, is my journey towards forgiveness.  I have had many people tell me to “forgive” over the years.  I couldn’t imagine doing so because my tormentor tainted that word and his demand for me to forgive him led to continued abuses. My conversations with you on the topic have pushed me forward on this journey. 

To fully understand the work, I sought out professional articles and found Robert Enright, PhD.  I listened to his lectures on YouTube and am still reading his book, Forgiveness is a Choice.  He has steps to take to move toward a forgiving life.  I’ve been implementing small forgivenesses and mention this word often to my spouse and children so they may learn to practice forgiveness as well. Dr. Enright remarks that you can have justice and forgiveness simultaneously. In addition to the impact this is having on my family, it has also impacted my patients.  My patients often harbor resentments, and I am discussing forgiveness with them, leading them down a path that may be challenging during the process, but will ultimately lift their depression and anxiety. 

Dr. Enright ( says those who forgive feel more energy and zest for life than those who harbor resentment.  I am getting closer to forgiving my tormentor.  A year ago, I would not have thought it possible.  I am a work in progress.  According to Dr. Enright’s research, it takes about a year of work to fully forgive. The point is, I know I am on the cusp of final forgiveness and I feel lighter because of it.  

On Monday, I saw an ophthalmologist about an eye dysfunction.  The treatment he offers is $1200, something that as a physician I can spare for myself. Given the misery I have with my eyes, the cost is worth it!  I have been putting off this treatment for years. But I am learning to take care of myself now, I learned I have fast growing cataracts and am at risk for glaucoma.  Thankfully, seeking a treatment I deserve has saved me from going blind! 

I was recently listening to the audiobook, The French Art of Living Well by Cathy Yandell, and I felt nothing but joy and light. Joy and light have been missing in my life for many years, if not most of my life.

All of these gains are a result of your coaching.  

Sure, you could go back to operating and make a difference one patient at a time.  But your coaching makes an exponential impact! At least it has for my family and my patients.

Your “poster child” 

(After I approached her about publishing this letter, her husband wanted to say something from the spouses prospective.  Following is his comment.)

From the beginning of our relationship, I have noticed my wife was often missing a sense of “hope.” The idea seemed that, as great as I thought she was, she could be better for herself.  There is work to it and a sense of discipline associated.  But I am seeing not a “better” wife and mother, but that there was a gem hiding within, and with Dr. Fawcett’s help, is really showing its luster in a more spectacular fashion. Which brings with it a sense of peace that he is helping her find.

Not everyone will have such a life changing experience in so many areas like this client did, but everyone experiences a change for the better. If you want something to improve in your life, seek out a coach to facilitate the process. If you want that coach to be me, simply contact me through the contact tab at the top of my website page. 

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