Patrick has been a full-time GP for 28 years and a GP trainer for 20 years, working in one of the largest practices in Dorset. He undertook the ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring with MF to develop his coaching skills in order to continue a role supporting younger doctors. Here he talks about his MF journey...
What made you decide to do the qualification?
"Someone recommended it to me from the Department of Health as I’d expressed an interest in learning more about coaching. The ICS course was recommended initially, and it was while I was on the course that I decided to do the Certificate and Diploma."
What made you decide to do the qualification?
"I attended a bespoke in house week-long Intensive Coaching Skills (ICS) course with MF in Bristol in partnership with the North West Leadership Academy and NHS England. Following that, I wanted to consolidate my learning - developing my coaching skills and gaining a deeper understanding of coaching."
What were your expectations of the course?
"Partly it was myth busting and wanting to understand what coaching is and also what coaching is not. I was really keen to get insights into the whole world of coaching."
What did you like about the course?
"It was superbly run and I felt that all ten people on the course built a really strong bond. It was a very good introduction into the practicalities of coaching coupled with a bit of theory to help us understand the tools that can be used as a coach. We gained really useful insight into the nature of coaching and the experience of conducting coaching. I particularly enjoyed the fact that at the end we had real life clients to practice our coaching skills on."
How was the support from the MF team?
"The three course facilitators were very experienced and we received good support from our dedicated supervisor when we were writing our assignments as part of getting the qualification."
What was your biggest challenge?
"I’d say it was having to unlearn the closed questions we more typically ask as GPs and, instead, learn to ask open questions. As a GP you’re often asking closed questions in order to get to a diagnosis but, as a coach, you have to help coachees find their own answers – a very different process. GPs are used to being problem fixers but this process turned that approach on its head."
Which parts of the qualification did you find particularly useful/valuable?
"I think the distinction between coaching and mentoring was very useful as it made me think about how I might continue to be involved with fellow professionals in the years ahead. I’ve been a GP for 28 years and I’ll probably retire from general practice in the next 2-3 years, but I want to remain involved with my colleagues in some way. Coaching is a great way to do that. I’ve been a GP trainer for over 20 years and I’m keen to go on having a role supporting younger doctors."
Which elements of the qualification are you using in your role now?
"Since completing the ILM Level 5 Certificate we have set up a coaching faculty in Dorset, which is based in a primary care workforce centre. I have been appointed its GP faculty lead."
And has it had an impact on your personal life too?
"I’m probably better at asking open questions with my wife, adult children and others!"
Would you recommend this qualification to a colleague? If so, why?
"Yes – for those interested in developmental conversations that are more than an appraisal. Coaching skills provide you with the experience to do that really well."
What advice would you give other people doing a qualification, so they get the most out of it?
"You need to have the experience by clocking up the hours face-to-face with coachees and then maybe discover your particular niche area for coaching development. My own particular interest is with GP colleagues at crossroad points in their career. They will get more job satisfaction if they have had the chance to test that they are doing the right thing."
How will you use your coaching skills in the future?
"I am actively coaching, as well as being a full-time GP. After retirement I intend to go on using coaching skills at a greater level."
How would you describe your experience with MF?
"MF is a highly professional organisation with an experienced team, skilled leadership and excellent course materials. They challenged me but in an enjoyable way."
Would you recommend MF to others? If so, why?
"Undoubtedly. I found MF very well organised, the material is excellent and they help you to do the myth busting around coaching as well as helping you to acquire skills that can be used on a day-today basis at work and home."
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