My journey with medicine
I have always wanted to be a doctor. I left my home country of Singapore at 16 years old to study medicine in the UK. Medical school was challenging, but I enjoyed the camaraderie and the opportunity to learn about the complexities of medicine and how to apply that to help people in a clinical context.
After medical school, I started foundation training. I was excited to finally be a doctor and to start working with patients. However, I quickly realized that the reality of being a doctor was different
from what I had imagined. The work was often stressful and demanding, and I felt like I was not making a difference as I moved from one short training rotation to another.
I found that I started to lose my passion for medicine and felt like I was just going through the motions.
My introduction to coaching
Whilst in training, I was sign-posted to coaching. I was hesitant at first but decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did because coaching helped me to gain clarity of my values and find my purpose in my work!
My first coaching session was with a medical professional who was not involved in my training pathway. This was important to me because I wanted to be able to talk freely about my doubts and fears without feeling judged.
My coach created a safe space for me to explore my thoughts and feelings. This enabled me to identify what was limiting me from having a fulfilling career and the changes I could make to achieve an optimal work-life balance that was sustainable for me.
The first hour of coaching flicked a switch in me. I felt empowered to choose my own path in work and in life and the challenge from this coaching session propelled me to go away and explore my values and from there, opportunities that aligned with these values.
My journey to becoming a coach
Soon after discovering coaching, I started a leadership fellowship where I had many opportunities to work with colleagues who I realized would benefit from receiving coaching. These colleagues were new to the UK and working in the NHS, and they often faced complex challenges in their personal and professional lives. I realized that there was very little opportunity for them to be empowered to come up with solutions to their own problems.
After experiencing the benefits of coaching myself, I realized that I wanted to help my colleagues in the same way. I started by attending a few workshops on peer coaching skills, largely based on Nancy Kline’s “Time to Think” work. These workshops helped me to become a better listener and to give my colleagues the space they needed to think through their problems.
However, I felt like I had hit a glass ceiling. I didn’t have the tools I needed to take my coaching skills to the next level. I wasn’t confident asking questions that would challenge my clients and help them to think more deeply.
I then came across a coaching diploma course that gave me the opportunity to learn different coaching approaches and skills. I also met a network of brilliant doctors who shared my interest in coaching.
After completing the course, I felt confident and equipped with the tools I needed to be an effective coach. I love being able to explore someone’s thoughts with them and provide a safe space for them to think through their challenges. I also enjoy challenging my clients so that they can come away with more clarity and focus.
The value of being a coach
Being coached and coaching others has been a rewarding experience that has helped me grow as a human being and a doctor.
I have learned the importance of listening to others with empathy and curiosity, and I am now more comfortable empowering my patients to come up with their own solutions to their health problems.
Working in teams such as Make a Medic has also given me the opportunity to put these skills to use as I communicate with others and continue to listen with curiosity.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have been coached and to be able to coach others. I believe that coaching is a powerful tool for personal and professional development, and I encourage others to consider it.