Coaching in Healthcare: The Missing Link for Patients, Providers and Leaders

Coaching within the world of healthcare offers many new opportunities for growth. Coaching can bring clarity and support across the entire patient journey.

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The Expanding Role of Coaches: A New Era in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is facing a crisis – with rising costs, increasing numbers of patients and not enough medical practitioners to go around. With these issues and others impacting care, the medical model has begun a significant transformation, and is starting to recognize the impact of coaching on both patient care and practitioner support. Let's explore how coaching can provide the much needed missing link in the medical field.

The Rise of Coaching in Healthcare

There simply aren’t enough medical professionals to assist all patients – The U.S. faces a projected shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by the year 2034.

Coaching is making its mark for its proactive approach to personal growth and behavioral adaption within treatment plans. And, it’s finally being recognized as the missing link in guiding patients from the uncertainty of pre-diagnosis through the complexities of treatment and beyond. 

Coaches are proving their value in facilitating emotional resilience, helping patients embrace their new reality and reshape their identities in the wake of health issues.

Integrating Coaches into Medical Teams

Healthcare institutions are increasingly integrating coaches into their teams. Insurance companies are paving the way for this integration by establishing coding systems for coaching services, signaling a significant shift towards mainstream acceptance. 

Coaches are now vital for improving communication and managing the emotional load within healthcare settings for leadership, patients and providers alike. Coaches can also assist practitioners in shifting from sympathy to empathy to avoid burnout and to improve communication skills and in adopting a coach-like approach.

Coaching Across the Patient Journey

There are many stages in the patient journey, and coaches can provide positive structure and guidance throughout them all. International Coaching Federation (ICF) Core Competencies play a  much-needed role at each stage, ensuring ethical practice, embodying a coaching mindset, and fostering client growth.

In the pre-diagnosis stage, health and wellness coaches focus on preventative health through behavioral interventions, while medical coaches step in later, often when pre-diagnosis moves towards a medical crisis or towards palliative care. Coaches in the end of life field can support clients in emotional regulation, crisis resources, and action planning. 

After initial diagnosis, coaches recognize it as a crisis and provide emotional first aid, supporting clients through diagnostic shock and helping them envision a life beyond their condition. 

In a post-diagnosis world, patients often find themselves adrift without adequate emotional or logistical support. At this stage, coaches engage in crisis management, help redefine the identity of the client, and assist in narrative work, integrating the clinical and personal stories.

At every turn of the healthcare journey, embracing the prescribed medical guidance is vital. Coaches stand alongside both patients and practitioners, navigating the complexities of treatment with a compassionate touch. They champion the power of personal connections in following health plans.

Coaches offer not just tools and resources for handling the practical aspects of patient care, but can offer up hope as well, helping patients and practitioners to navigate with strength and purpose.

Retreats: A New Approach to Patient Support

Retreats are a new and unique part of the treatment process. Similar to the benefits of group coaching, retreats provide patients with a sense of community and collective strength, allowing them to share experiences and support each other through their health journeys.

Specialized Training for Coaches

As the field of healthcare coaching matures, the need for specialized training becomes apparent. Coaches are encouraged to pursue education in sensitive areas, such as palliative care, to provide the most effective support for patients in all stages of their healthcare journey.

This fresh approach promises a stronger safety net for both those who receive care and those who provide it. The horizon of healthcare is brightening, with coaches lighting the way.

Information and statistics in this podcast were taken from a video on Coaching in Healthcare, produced by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Career Coaching Community Practice. 

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