Developing doctors: improving non-clinical skills
The following four sections broadly describe the areas that doctors want to work on and some of the benefits they can expect from developing their skills in these areas.
1. Leadership and management for doctors
Nowadays, in addition to being an effective clinician, you, as a doctor, have to perform in all kinds of other ways that you may find challenging. A doctor's skills are often also expected to include:
- Business development (including commissioning)
Coaching will give you the opportunity to understand and develop your potential expertise in these non-clinical leadership performance areas.
When you develop expertise in non-clinical leadership performance areas, you will:
- be able to realise your clinical and managerial promotion opportunities;
- be prepared for what is expected of you outside the clinical setting on reaching higher grades;
- be able to demonstrate your performance against the standards set out by your profession;
- learn to manage commissioning services appropriately (GP-specific);
- be able to get involved at a strategic level and therefore influence the improvements that you need for your patients' care; and
- develop the skills you need to line-manage others, to lead teams and to hire and fire.
2. Career planning and development for doctors
Today's medical career market is more competitive and there are fewer posts available – in other words, a job is no longer guaranteed.
Coaching will give you, at any stage of your career, the opportunity to reflect and consider your choices and opportunities for transition and development.
With good career management you will:
- aim to end up in a clinical speciality that suits your personal qualities and the life you wish to lead;
- be more inclined to make career choices using all the information available – this will enable you to consider the wider picture;
- develop your career in a way that maintains your passion, drive and enthusiasm rather than stagnating or becoming bored, which is something that can happen when you reach senior posts in your forties;
- avoid becoming too focused on the ladder to CCT and will give due consideration to what happens after that; and
- find it easier to return from a career break, plan your retirement or manage a portfolio career.
3. Management for doctors
Nowadays, doctors are expected to be naturally good at a range of non-clinical tasks. However, tasks like these can often prove challenging:
- Chairing meetings
- Conflict resolution
- Time management
- Managing change
- Developing others
- Effective communications
Coaching will give you the opportunity to review, assess and improve your competency in these areas.
Through reviewing and improving non-clinical tasks, you will:
- develop the confidence to chair meetings that are productive and respected;
- develop the skills to manage conflict and challenging behaviour in the here and now – when it really matters;
- learn better ways to cope with the volume of work, including how to prioritise, delegate and say no to some work;
- learn to manage change and develop the skills to navigate through it;
- find it more rewarding to encourage others and to develop their potential;
- develop the skills to manage tasks, projects and different streams of work; and
- learn to deliver the right kind of communication approach to different people or groups.
4. Personal performance for doctors
Doctors rarely have time to consider their own development and personal performance. Coaching will give you access to tools and independent data on your personal performance concerning:
- Flexibility / adaptability
- Managing uncertainty
- Interpersonal skills
- Managing deadlines
- Work-life balance
- Emotional intelligence
- Self awareness and personal insight
Taking time to understand yourself and develop greater insight will help you:
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses which will give you the motivation to change the way you do things;
- avoid being under-confident or over-confident in certain areas;
- be able to identify the personal qualities you have that work for you and when best to use them;
- learn to manage your emotions and understand how they can be used to help you;
- find it easier to ask for help and share burdens;
- develop ways to manage your workload and avoid burning yourself out;
- avoid becoming cynical and rigid in your view of the world;
- develop the skills to work well in teams and share responsibility; and
- learn to challenge yourself and develop a better understanding of your capabilities.
I knew that there were areas of work which frustrated me and managerial situations in which I was less effective than I wanted to be. I had started to passively steer my professional time to aspects of the job which I found more comfortable. Conscious that this might prevent me from grasping opportunities to take on rewarding and worthwhile projects at work I asked Alexis to help me with one such project. Her ideas have prompted me to transfer some of the skills which, as a clinician, I use naturally when communicating with my patients to managerial situations when understanding the personalities, motivations, strengths and anxieties of colleagues is so important both in working effectively in a team and in running difficult negotiations. — Secondary Care Consultant