From GP to Coach…to Both. How ‘Coach GP’ was born

It was 2001 – I’d already been a doctor for 7 years, was working in General Practice and enrolled in the RACGP training program. And I was not happy. Nothing about standard general practice felt right to me. And I didn’t know what to do. When I looked around at all the traditional specialty pathways none of them felt right either.

To be honest – leaving medicine at that point was very tempting. But I did feel a sense of responsibility to use my training and experience to improve health -and to give back to society which had, after all, supported and subsidised my training.

But what to do????

So, a bit like Goldilocks, I embarked on an exploration trying to find something that was ‘just right’.

I did a lot of medical writing for a whole range of organisations (and I still do that and have a successful health and medical writing consultancy) – but as wonderful as writing is, there was always something nagging at me that I could be (should be) doing more to fulfil my potential and responsibility. Something unique I had to offer.

I did a public health degree and worked for close to a decade in helping hospitals improve their quality use of medicines. It was here I started to realise the importance of involving people themselves in their own healthcare that would improve quality, safety and health outcomes.

And then I moved on to Bupa where I became more immersed in the concepts of shared decision making slowly moving away from the concept of doctor as the expert to the idea that shared expertise between doctors and patients was truly needed to help people better manage their health.

But it wasn’t until I hired a coach for myself that I started to tie all this together a build a vision for my own unique contribution to health.

Not one to do anything by half, I enrolled in one coaching degree – and then another and at the time of writing have almost completed my MSc in coaching psychology. With coaching I had found a positive, future-solution-strengths focused way of being that I wish I’d known about as a junior doctor and that we’d learned about in medical school. Here, all of a sudden was an evidence-based way of helping people function better, reach goals, manage stress, build wellbeing and positive mental health.

So I started coaching doctors in managing their careers – and providing others with the type of support I wish I’d had decades ago. I hadn’t been so happy at work in a long time. I was starting to feel like I’d finally found my thing.

It wasn’t until a close family member was diagnosed with a chronic disease that I realised how helpful coaching methods were in helping me cope with and manage the sudden changes in life – the identity challenges and shifts in family functioning that come with chronic disease.

And so my idea of Coach GP was born – I could bring together my knowledge of medicine, coaching and life experience to help people become more empowered in the choices they make for health, work and overall life.

This, finally, was ‘just right’ for me.

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