Professional athletes have coaches to help them achieve great feats of human ability. Leaders rely on expert mentors to help fulfill their goals. What do surgeons do to get better? CME presentations at medical conferences. Hours-long written examinations. 

We can do better. 

In Surgical Coaching, a surgeon partners with a Surgical Coach and receives individual, one-on-one guidance for improving their personal performance. Surgical Coaches have been trained in the principles of coaching: setting goals, action planning, and holding surgeons accountable. Surgical Coaches are also all trained surgeons, so they bring their expertise on the discipline. 

Through Surgical Coaching, surgeons can improve their surgical technique, build their teamwork and leadership abilities, and tackle stressful decisions. 

How is Surgical Coaching different from mentoring?

Coaching is different from mentoring and teaching. A teacher provides knowledge to a student. A mentor guides their mentee through career choices and life decisions. In these relationships, there is a hierarchy and a transfer of knowledge. A great coach is a co-learner, not an expert, and is attending to the surgeon’s needs, rather than their own. 

Who makes a great Surgical Coach?

Surgeons with a broad base of knowledge and who are respected in the field are often good coaches. However, being a great coach also has to do with personality.  A great coach is adaptable and can understand and motivate their peers through coaching. Great coaches also possess strong communication skills and high levels of self-awareness.


Funding for the original development of this project was provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and Department of Surgery from the Wisconsin Partnership Program.