“I didn't want to only get coached; I thought, "Well, if I become a coach, maybe I can share this with others,” says Diana Londoño, MD.
In this installment of “Begin Your Journey,” urologist Diana Londoño, MD, talks with host Scott A. MacDiarmid, MD, FRCPSC, about how she came to create the Physician Coach Support resource. Londoño is a urologic oncology surgeon and assistant clinical professor in the department of surgery at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. MacDiarmid is a urologist with Alliance Urology Specialists in Greensboro, North Carolina.
MacDiarmid: There's no question the symptoms can be from A to Z in type and severity, and it can be very insidious and chronic. I think many physicians experience it for many, many years and they're not even aware of it; their spouse or their children may be aware. How did you bridge your experiences with burnout to your expertise now in coaching?
Londoño: Things always happen for a reason. I started learning about coaching, and I heard about physicians who were coaches, and I started to learn about this and listen to podcasts about coaching. It was the first time I learned about awareness. These are really Buddhist principles, actually. [I learned] about awareness and how what we think gives us a feeling and that feeling changes what we're going to do and how we're going to get a result. Or sometimes, we start with a feeling [and] we have to realize, what are we thinking that we're feeling a certain way [and] we're getting triggered? I got into coaching, I was learning, I started to feel better, and I thought, "Huh, there's something to this." And I didn't want to only get coached; I thought, "Well, if I become a coach, maybe I can share this with others." And as I was going through the training process and certification, I thought, "Well, I am learning new skills; I need to practice just like you practice as a resident; I need to practice this skill." And physicians are really hurting. I was there. So I thought, "Maybe I can use those skills and start something to help others." And that's how I started www.physiciancoachsupport.com, which is a free confidential platform for physicians to come get peer support. And there's a coach there who's a physician, who is a colleague, and they've been through what we're all going through. So they can just help you navigate a situation, challenge, a feeling, and really give you a little bit of perspective. It's not long-term coaching, which is more effective, of course, but it's just a little bit of a lifeline, when you don't know where to go, when maybe internally in your institution, you don't want to use those resources for different reasons. It's just somebody that confidentially can speak to you. And they're certified, they're trained; they can help you in a different way than a mentor, than a psychiatrist, therapist—which are all needed, of course. Friends, family; all the tribe is needed. It's just a place to go when you don't know where else to go and you need some support.
MacDiarmid: For our audience, could you repeat how to access this resource?
Londoño: Go to www.physiciancoachsupport.com. Basically, you look through the times in your time zone and see what's available, and then book a Zoom appointment. You meet with a physician coach, and you can talk about anything. It could be your kids, it could be your spouse, it could be work, it could be that you're feeling overwhelmed or you want to work out, it can be anything. What we think is just such a small thing, there is likely a bigger issue at play.
This transcription was edited for clarity.