Physicians get precious little training on how to ensure a rewarding and successful career.  They are told to master clinical knowledge and skills – and success will take care of itself.  Sadly, most physicians eventually figure out, that this is NOT necessarily the case.

The Skills They Never Cover in Training

It doesn’t matter whether a new physician joins a private practice, a health system or goes into academia, she quickly realizes that success and career satisfaction will rely on a number of variables and skills that were never covered in her training:

  • How to choose the right job
  • How to understand and navigate organizational dynamics
  • How to communicate and influence
  • How to form productive relationships with colleagues, administrators, and staff
  • How to manage your own schedule and life outside of work
  • How to set career goals and create the path toward those goals
  • How to lead
  • How to be a productive member of a team and organization
  • How to avoid or manage the frustration that is certain to come with practicing medicine in today’s complex and changing environment.

A Failure to Support Physician Success

Healthcare organizations figured out in recent decades (but later than other industries), that their people are their most important asset.   They need to provide executives, nurses and even front-line staff, the tools, support and framework for success. 

Physicians are, as a group, the most expensive talent investment most organizations make – yet, historically, the investment in their success has been almost nil.  How do we know this?  There is an epidemic of physician burnout, career dissatisfaction, and low engagement.

A New Approach at Yale Medicine

Some organizations are finally realizing the nature of the problem.  Yon Sugiharto, CPLP, Director of Learning and Development, and, Ronald Vender, MD, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at Yale Medicine, recognized the problem and had an idea – give new faculty physician the tools and support they need to have a long, rewarding career.

In partnership with the team at J3P, they recently kicked off the first in a series of faculty physician development programs called the Yale Medicine Pathfinder Program – a pilot with an initial cohort of 35 new faculty physicians.  Many are coming right out of their fellowship –entering their first academic positions. They are facing every challenge we listed above.  We know because we asked them.

Most reported that it was the first time ANYONE had asked them about their concerns, their goals, and what help and support they might need, or offered to provide them the resources and guidance they’ve been lacking.

The Pathfinder Program for New Faculty

“The program starts with gathering information from each participant about his or her challenges, concerns, and goals – AND a short personality test to identify work style, and tendencies that will form the basis of enhanced self-awareness.  Then they have a one-on-one session with a physician executive coach to establish short term career goals and a plan to get there.” Explained Sugiharto.

Yon Sugiharto, CPLP
Director of Learning and Development, Yale Medicine

The group then participates in a series of interactive live and online training on topics including enhanced self-awareness, communication and team skills, the basics of leadership, time management, mentoring and coaching, and emotional wellness.  “When we ask new faculty members where they struggle and what they want to learn about, these are the topics they identify,” said Sugiharto.

Career Path Confidence

One of the primary goals of the program is to improve a measure the program designers are calling “career path confidence.”  Sugiharto added, “We want physicians, early in their career, to feel that they have a plan, the support they need, and a path to success.  While we measure all of the standard metrics for a program like this, the ultimate goal is for our faculty to feel confident in their career trajectory.”

The program also includes ways for the cohort to share ideas and lessons learned in an online community.  The feedback thus far, particularly as it relates to access to an initial session with a physician executive coach, has been outstanding. 

We look forward to measuring the program’s impact and making this part of a larger approach to ensuring physician success at every point in their career.  Sugiharto states, “By ensuring our new and existing faculty physicians have the organizational support, ongoing career development, and leading-edge learning experiences, our goal is to continue to retain and attract the world-renowned medical thought leaders and practitioners who embody the admired reputation of Yale University.”

Jena Jake, M.A.,
Vice President, Coaching Practice and Relationship Management, J3Personica