RCT: Effect of Coaching on Mid-Career Physician Well-Being, Job Satisfaction, & Fulfillment
Over half of U.S. physicians are experiencing burnout,characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and decreased sense of personal accomplishment from work. Physicians at the front lines of care are at highest risk of burnout and burnout is more prevalent among physicians than U.S. workers in other fields. Not only are primary care physicians (PCP) at particularly high risk, so are mid-career physicians. In a study we conducted mid-career physicians had lower satisfaction with their specialty choice and work-life balance and higher rates of burnout in comparison to early and late career physicians. The challenges for mid-career physicians were found in both men and women and across all specialties and practice settings. Mid-career physicians were also more likely to be planning to leave their current practice due to frustration and to plan to pursue a career that involved no direct patient care or was outside of medicine.
Professional coaching can enhance professional skills and personal growth through inquiry, encouragement and accountability, and raising self-awareness, motivation, and capacity to take effective action. It has been shown to enhanced revenue, retention, relationships, team work, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and communication. External professional coaching overcomes many of the barriers for traditional formal and informal mentorship relationships and may be a more accessible and appropriate form of mentorship for mid-career physicians. Little experimental research, however, focused on mentoring has been done and no randomized study has specifically explored the efficacy of a coaching intervention for physicians.
We aim to fill this gap by testing whether a professional coaching intervention leads to measurable improvements in well-being, job satisfaction, and fulfillment in mid-career PCPs. We propose a 2-arm randomized controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of 6 months of regular, professional coaching to reduce burnout and promote engagement for mid-career primary care physicians. Although we believe coaching may have relevance for all physicians, this target population was selected because it focuses on the specialty and time of career of greatest risk. It also addresses the vacuum of information regarding effective mentorship models for those working in a community based practice setting. Interested family medicine and general internal medicine physicians from the Mayo Clinic Health System who have been in practice 10-25 years will be randomly assigned via computer-generated algorithm to one of two groups: Arm 1 = Immediate Coaching Intervention ; Arm 2 = Control/Delayed Coaching Intervention.