In this continuation of myth-dispelling posts about Surgical Coaching, we take on the misconception that coaching is punitive. The idea that only “bad” surgeons need a coach is particularly perplexing to me, given the easy-to-make but not-entirely-accurate association I’ve observed between surgical coaching and sports coaching.
In sports, all athletes have a coach, not just struggling individuals. It goes without saying, then, that the best athletes also work with a coach. Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Tom Brady, Mia Hamm, Roger Federer… all had or still have coaches throughout their careers.
And it’s not that these superstars only worked with a coach occasionally. To the contrary, their coach was an integral part of every day on the job. None of these elite professionals said, “Well, I already get better every day, so I probably don’t need a coach.” In fact, they’d be at a competitive disadvantage if they didn’t have a coach.
Similarly, top performers in many fields outside of sports have a coach to help them push the limits of their performance. Business executives work with coaches to improve their leadership skills and better position their companies for growth. Vocalists and dancers such as Beyoncé can attribute at least part of their worldwide successes to coaching. Elite violinists like Itzhak Perlman appreciate the distinct advantage they have when an external ear lends critical feedback on their performance.
Teachers, like surgeons, have complex and unpredictable jobs that directly affect human lives. Instructional coaching has taken off recently to help teachers improve their classroom instruction for students. Many schools and entire school districts have embraced this concept and hired coaches specifically to support teachers in serving their students’ needs as best they can.
If elite performers in athletics, business, and music have coaches, and if everyday teachers get coaching to improve their performance, why wouldn’t surgeons do the same when the health and lives of patients are at stake? Surely, we surgeons want to get better for our own sake, but as competitive individuals by nature, don’t we also want to get a leg up on that practice down the road? The benefits of coaching on your practice are countless. Surgical coaching is not punitive; in fact, it should feel like punishment to not have a Surgical Coach.
I welcome responses of support or challenge to this myth about surgical coaching. Contact us to inquire further! We look forward to hearing from you.
Jason C. Pradarelli, MD, MS
Medical Director | Academy for Surgical Coaching