Part Two – Selecting Your Consultant or Coach

This is Part 2 of my discussion about how to hire a suitable physician career coach. Here is a link to Part 1, in case you have not listened yet.

I receive frequent questions about this topic from listeners. Their questions generally involve one or more of these themes:

  • Should I use a coach?
  • Where do I find a coach?
  • Are coaches expensive?
  • Do you recommend certain coaches?

In Part 1, I listed the physician career coaches and consultants that I have featured on the podcast. I also provided links to an interview with each of them. In that way, you can get to know them a little better, which should help you to decide if they might be a good fit for you.

I should have included Dr. Una (Nneka Unachukwu) last week in the list of coaches I've interviewed. She is a business and entrepreneur coach, but I think she does career coaching for many of her clients. The link to her interview can be found below.

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest-running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country. It has over 700 graduates. And, the program only takes one year to complete. 

By joining the UT Physician Executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to find a career that you love. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office at (865) 974-6526 or go to

What About Coaching Referral Sources?

I'm aware of three directories of physician coaches:

  • Happy MD lists five coaches affiliated with Dr. Dike Drummond
  • The Physician Coaching Alliance currently lists 43 coaches, including the CEO, Dr. Errin Weisman
  • Finally, Physician Coaches, hosted by Dr. Mike Woo-Ming, provides a directory of 170 coaches for physicians. Thirty-eight are designated as career coaches. Many of the Life Coaches also include career coaching in what they do.

How to Hire a Suitable Physician Career Coach

My advice for finding a suitable coach:

  1. First learn about burnout, career transition, and nontraditional careers through free websites, blogs, Facebook groups, podcasts like this one, articles, and books. Some of the coaches I mentioned have podcasts. Most post articles on their websites.
  1. Network with colleagues who have transitioned and ask them if they used a coach and whether it was a worthwhile investment. I’ve asked physicians this question many times. And to a person, they found the process to be useful and effective. Then check out the directories I already mentioned.
  1. Narrow down your choice to 3 or 4, check out their websites, read their bios on LinkedIn, access their websites, and join their email lists to get to know them. Then set up an interview (discovery call, free consultation) and spend at least 15 minutes getting to know them. Tell them each that you are interviewing others to find one who is a good fit for both of you.
  1. Select one of them and get started. If it seems you are not making progress or connecting well after several sessions, then explain to them that you wish to move on.

My Consulting Services

Putting this episode together made me think a lot more about providing career consulting services myself. I really enjoy the Nonclinical Mastermind Sessions I have been doing. In my opinion, that is a form of group coaching. And I definitely encourage you to try that if it appeals to you.

So, I decided to take the plunge and set aside some time for  Nonclinical Career Consulting. So, if you want to work with me, you can learn more about it at There you will find a description of the three levels of Career Consulting Services I provide. You can read the descriptions and set up a short call for us to discuss your needs. 

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode.

Links for Today's Episode:

Download This Episode:

Right Click Here and “Save As” to download this podcast episode to your computer.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, share it on Twitter and Facebook, and leave a review on iTunes.

Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton

Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 216

More on How to Hire a Suitable Physician Career Coach or Consultant

John: This is part two of my presentation on coaches and career consultants. I did remember that I failed to recommend or list Dr. Una. Her name is actually Dr. Nneka Unachukwu, but she goes by Dr. Una. She has a podcast. She has been on my show twice. I excluded her initially because she does mostly entrepreneur and business ownership, business kind of consulting.

But I think that in the course of doing that, she actually helps a lot of physicians' transitions into a nonclinical career that isn't always their own practice or some kind of straight on let's say medical business. So, I would want to add her to the list that I started with last week for sure. I'll put a link in today's show notes, and actually I'm going to put it in last week's show notes as well. So, it's there for you. But anyway, let's finish up today's discussion by going through a process of how to prepare for, and then find your coach or career consultant. Let's jump right into part two, which picks up from where I left off last week.

I did mention as I was going through there, that there are at least three sorts of directories or referral sources where you could get other coaches. The ones that I'm talking about that are in these directories or referrals are not necessarily listed on the list I just gave you because I haven't interviewed them. But as I said, The Happy MD, Dike Drummond, if you go to his site and I'll put a link to it, you'll find it. Right now, he has at least six coaches that are part of his network.

The Physician Coaching Alliance currently lists 43 coaches that help physicians. It's called the Physician Coaching Alliance and it promotes coaching by physicians for physicians. And I said before that the CEO is Aaron Wiseman. They do a great job. I think they're still growing. So, there's a lot of resources there.

But the largest resource or directory by far that I'm aware of is or just Physician Coaches, which is hosted by Dr. Mike Woo-Ming. He put this together about a year ago. And currently he has a list of 170 coaches for physicians. I didn't check to see if they're all physician coaches coaching physicians or not. It's So, definitely to serve physicians.

He has at least 12 categories you can find those coaches in. So, if you go there to and just look around, you'll see that they're currently 170 coaches listed. 38 of them are currently designated as career coaches. I think you'll find many that also list themselves as life coaches that would do a fair amount of career coaching. So, that's a great resource.

Pretty much if you do everything and look at all these resources I'm talking about today, you'll be so overwhelmed. You won't be able to find a coach for years, but you'll have to narrow it down. In fact, I'm going to give you some clues on how to actually narrow that list down.

Compared to a few years ago, there are certainly many more physician career coaches out there to consider hiring. And you do hire a coach. They all have made their living either full-time or part-time doing coaching.

Right now, we've reached a point where the availability of a coach really should not stop you from finding a coach. What I mean is in the past, when there were only 5, 10, 15 well-known coaches, they were super busy and they weren't taking new clients. But there are a lot of coaches out there, there is a lot of capacity. I think you're going to have a lot of options. But you want to find the right coach.

I think before you start looking for the right coach though, you should ask yourself some questions and if you don't have the right answers to these questions, maybe you should hold off for a while. Here are the questions that I came up with to think about.

Number one, "Am I coachable?" You've got to go into coaching with an open mind. That's the whole point. And not everything a coach is going to ask you or suggest to you or exercises they might ask you to do are going to necessarily feel good or feel right or seem like they're right for you. But you have to really suspend all that disbelief and really just give the coach a chance, give the coach questions, take it to heart and be coachable.

I think that's one of the things I try to do for myself. If I'm going to engage a particular coach, even if someone suggests a coach and I get it for free, like when I was working as a CMO, we had some free coaching. I wanted to go into those sessions and just be coachable, even though I might have a negative thought or disagree with something the coach says. But the coach says, "Well, let's look at it from another point of view or let's think about what if this were true, could something else follow that would be a benefit". See if you're coachable and if you're at least halfway coachable, then it's okay to proceed, but if you're totally not coachable, there's really no point.

"Am I ready?" Sometimes we think we're ready to start a new chapter in our lives and we really aren't for a lot of reasons. Really do some soul searching and don't waste your time looking for a coach if you're really not ready for the coaching.

"What do I need the most help with?" Try and identify that. Half of coaching it seems sometimes is that the coach gets to the root of what really is your current challenge. We learned this in the Mastermind sessions that we were doing. In a Mastermind group, you're on a hot seat and you're set and one of the first things you do is you describe the challenge you're facing and then you get questioned by the other members of your team.

And a lot of times those questions just help clarify what the challenge truly is. And once you know what the challenge truly is, sometimes the answers are so much more obvious. So, try and figure out what your true challenge is. Does it fall under the category of mindset issues and self-limiting beliefs? Are you stuck on something as a matter of finding options for your nonclinical career or is it a matter of even going back further to the things I can do? Maybe I don't really want to leave clinical medicine. Maybe I just need to leave my job, my department, or just get away from my current manager. So, think through all that.

And then two other questions. "Am I willing to develop the time and am I willing to invest in myself financially?" If you're not willing to do those things, then again, it's going to take an investment and the return is huge really, much higher than you would think. Looking at the costs of coaching, it can seem expensive at times but if you're miserable and you're on the verge of just quitting your job and going without any pay for a while or making a rash decision, spending a few thousand dollars on coaching is probably well worth it.

I know there are certain circumstances where maybe it's not doable, but really think about what the real benefits will be. And if you've been stuck for months and months and months or years, you need to get off the dime, you need to get something to get you moving forward again. Maybe coaching is the way to go. So, think about those questions.

Now, how do I find a suitable coach? Well, probably with what I've talked about so far, you've got some pretty darn good ideas, but here is a process I would start with and work up to.

First, whatever is causing you to consider a career change, I would study extensively. I would learn about burnout career transition, nonclinical versus non-traditional careers, through things like different free websites and blogs and Facebook groups, podcasts like mine, articles and books. I guess the books aren't free, but everything else in that list is free. You can get a lot of information.

But there is a point where you need to move beyond the free stuff. You can only read so many blog posts and listen to so many podcasts before you have to take your next step. Many of the coaches that I mentioned above have podcasts. So, sample those and see if there is one that really seems to resonate with you and listen to many of their episodes and see if you can get a feel for whether coaching with them would make sense.

A lot of those people also on their websites post a lot of blog posts and articles about career change. And there is a lot to learn, and it is something you do have to learn through the process. If you're going from clinical to nonclinical, that is a major career change. Even going from one practice to another or one academic position to another, or moving from clinical private practice to governmental or academic, those are all big changes. But moving from clinical to nonclinical is really a big change. And you need to, you ought to put a lot of thought into that and really become an expert on the process to some extent, if you want to do it well. And then use networking, find colleagues who have transitioned. It can be people you've met in med school and went to med school with and did residency with and fellowship. And even people from college who may have gone into medicine.

The other thing you can do with networking is network with other people at your med school or residency who weren't in your class. It's very easy to network with those people and you can look them up on LinkedIn, see what they're doing now. And when you start to find that they're doing non-clinical things, then just get some mentors to help move you along that path.

I've known many people that have found a coach that way and I've asked them, "Hey, did you find the coaching useful?" And pretty much to a person they found that the process was quite useful and effective. And some of them were spending months and months and months. And then just getting a few coaching sessions allowed them or enabled them to move forward much more quickly.

You can look in the Facebook groups. You can really connect with people there and you can ask them questions. You can look at all your LinkedIn connections. I did a search on LinkedIn just before recording this and I just put in a physician coach or physician and coaches to make it more specific. And there were hundreds of people in my second level connections, I guess they weren't my primary. They're like 10 or 20 in my primary. And those included many that I hadn't even listed today or had interviewed. But there are hundreds within my second, which is very easy to connect with a second level connection on LinkedIn. Most everyone you asked to connect will do so. So that's another way to find people, at least to look at their profiles and see if it's something to pursue.

Narrow down your choice. This is the third big step. You've got to narrow down your choice based on everything you'll find out about these different coaches. And I'd say narrow it down to three or four, depending on how much time you have to look. And then check out their websites, read their bios on LinkedIn, join their email list, get to know them. You can get to know them quite a bit sometimes these days with the podcast and the emails and the articles and so forth.

And then set up an interview. They sometimes call it a discovery call or a free consultation and spend at least 15 minutes getting to know them. Tell them that you're interviewing people. They know that, that's their discovery call. They're interviewing you. They're going to try to tell you about why their approach is a good approach and how they can help you. Sometimes they'll tell you they're not a good fit. But explain to them that you are interviewing three or four people so it won't be a surprise at the end of the interview. Even if you have a great interview, you're going to have to finish up your due diligence and check out some other people and then you're going to make your choice.

And then the fourth step is selecting one of them and getting started. Most of the time it's going to work out great. You're going to get just what you need. They're going to fulfill every promise they made and the benefits are going to be there. Sometimes it may not work out perfectly and you might decide "I want to terminate this relationship and maybe try a different coach for whatever reason". And that's fine. Everybody that does coaching and consulting sometimes loses a client after a few visits and that's fine.

Most coaching now is done online and it's very convenient and it's not a big deal. So, that's the way it goes. And if you've been stuck and you need help, then you should be on your way if you follow that approach.

So, I hope you've enjoyed this discussion of coaching. As I stated, I get this question all the time. And so, I really wanted to make it as easy as possible for those of you who are considering a coach and how to find one and get started.

Now, putting this episode together made me think a lot more about career coaching or consulting services myself. I've really enjoyed the Nonclinical Mastermind sessions that we've been doing. We're doing that through the Nonclinical Career Academy.

Anyway, doing the Mastermind in my opinion is a form of group coaching. I think it's a very effective form. And I definitely encourage you to try that if you get a chance, whether it's with me or somebody else. But I have to admit there are certain physicians who would benefit more from one-on-one coaching or mentoring or consulting or career strategy sessions.

So, I decided to take the plunge and set aside some time for what I'm calling nonclinical career consulting. I've added a limited number of consulting services and various levels to my list of resources for listeners like you.

And if you want to explore working with me, you can learn more about it just by going to That's just the general landing page for my Nonclinical Career Academy and any of my consulting and coaching services will be listed there.

You'll find a description of the coaching services I provide. You'll also see that the Nonclinical Mastermind program is listed there. And that my plan is to have three levels of career consultation services. So, you should find that there, it'll explain everything. And basically, you can read through the descriptions and then set up a short call for us to discuss your needs and decide if I'm the right career consultant or coach for you.


Many of the links that I refer you to are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you.

The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life, or business.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. I do not provide medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counselor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career.