The transition from medical school to residency is a high-stress time for trainee physicians. It can feel abrupt, challenging and often isolating, especially if the resident does not receive the proper support from their network.

Recently there has been a fair amount of research and consideration given to coaching as a strategy for making this transitional phase a smoother experience for residents, healthcare teams and, ultimately, patients and clients.

This article provides an overview of the ways medical residents can benefit from coaching as they navigate one of the most significant transitions of their career.

Personalized support 

Medical school generally takes a one size fits all approach to learning and skill development. Often, students are transitioned into residency in the same way—with very little time taken to understand their personal concerns, anxieties or strengths.

Partnering a resident with a coach gives them the opportunity to receive personalized support tailored to their needs and concerns. As one pilot program run by NYU found, this kind of individualized approach is crucial to empowering residents to provide quality care while ultimately preventing burnout and overwhelm.

Build positive habits early on

A coach will work with a resident to identify their goals and take actionable steps to achieve them. Whether they are looking at reducing their stress, improving their conflict resolution skills or developing leadership skills, research on resident coaching has shown that a coach can have a huge impact on the wellness and effectiveness of a medical resident.

Reduce stress and support wellbeing

A 2023 study showed that working with a coach can improve the wellbeing of physicians, reducing distress and burnout while helping them navigate high-pressure situations.

For medical residents, positive mental health is essential to their ability to effectively learn in their new hands-on environment. It’s difficult to function with feelings of confusion, self-doubt and imposter syndrome interfering with your ability to work. Coaching can help residents navigate these feelings so they can focus on what’s important: learning, practicing and developing the skills they need to thrive in their long-term career.

Questions about resident coaching?

If you’re thinking about implementing coaching programs into your workplace or institution—for residents or physicians—our physician coaches can provide you with the insight you need to make informed decisions.

Get in touch to chat with our team any time.

Sign up to stay in touch

Sign up to get leadership tips, news and insights about healthcare leadership and more sent straight to your inbox once a month.

* indicates required