How to make the most of a career coach

5th November 2020 by Dr Caroline Walker

How to make the most of a career coach

As a psychiatrist and a career coach who specialises in the wellbeing of doctors, I have never felt more needed than over the past year.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many doctors were struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance, that didn’t leave them feeling depleted and burnt-out. Then Covid-19 came along and gave healthcare professionals an additional unwelcome challenge to face.

The pandemic has had a profound effect on the working lives of doctors across the globe. Those working in locum positions have unfortunately not been spared from the extraordinary levels of uncertainty and the never-ending cycle of change. Contracts have been terminated prematurely. Sessional work has been harder to find.

Financial insecurity and levels of general uncertainty about the future have increased. Some doctors have found themselves forced into, or out of, portfolio careers sooner than they had previously planned. At the same time, some have felt extremely grateful for the greater level of autonomy and freedom that locum work has brought them.

I have been working tirelessly this year, along with my wonderful team of coaches and wellbeing trainers at The Joyful Doctor, to help stressed-out and conflicted doctors from all fields of medicine find a way through the uncertainty and change. Our experienced team of career coaches have been supporting GP locums to adapt and regroup in the face of these challenging times – helping them to put their own wellbeing first, so that they can continue to help others to the best of their ability. After all, as doctors we are deeply driven by meaning. Most of us just want to do a job that brings us a sense of reward without breaking us in the process.

Coaching questions

If you have found yourself, like many of the doctors we help, feeling run down, demotivated, confused, anxious or just not sure about your next career move, you might have considered working with a career coach to help you shift into a more positive, confident headspace.

You could start by asking yourself some of the following coaching-style questions:

  • If you took a blank piece of paper and could design your ideal working week, what would it look like?
  • Imagine you have chosen to take the job on offer to you, how will you feel about it when you wake up tomorrow? How will you feel about it one week from now? How about one year from now?
  • If you are deciding between two or more posts, imagine they paid the same or were in the exact same location, which would you choose?
  • If you fast-forward to the end of your life, looking back to this moment in time, what would you say to yourself about this current decision?
  • How will you feel if you don’t take this opportunity?

Asking yourself coaching-style questions like these can help you think of possibilities that you wouldn’t otherwise have considered. However, you might find you get tangled up with limiting thoughts like: “what if X happens?” or “I can’t do that, it’s not possible.” This is when working with a career coach can really help.

What to do next

A career coach can help you decide on the next right step for you – by focusing on your strengths, options and possibilities and helping you get clear of your limiting beliefs. Unlike a mentor or therapist, they won’t give you advice or try to influence your decision in any way. Their role is to help you focus on the future more than the past – on what is possible rather than what is holding you back. A coach’s role is to listen carefully, in a non-judgemental way, to reflect back to you your own thinking and ask helpful questions to help you reach the best possible decision for you.

At The Joyful Doctor, we have been helping doctors through individualised one-to-one coaching sessions to explore all of the options available to them and to make decisions in line with their values and aspirations. (And if you need another great reason to give coaching a try, remember it’s also a tax-deductible expense).

NASGP members can contact our team today at to book a free 20-minute coaching strategy call with myself or our head of coaching, Dr Sarah Goulding, to find out how coaching could help you in 2020 and 2021.

Dr Caroline Walker is the founder of The Joyful Doctor. She specialises in helping overworked and under-appreciated doctors to move towards a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life and career.
To book coaching, workshops and online courses with Dr Walker and her team visit

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