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Coaching is a form of precision faculty development tailored to an individual’s goals and needs. It is a partnership between the coach and client that allows for a “thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential,” and it “unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership”.9

Coaching has been demonstrated to be an effective tool for addressing issues such as burnout, work/life balance decision-making, the ability to think creatively when solving problems, positive impact on addressing feelings of burnout, retention1,5, and to augment mentoring to achieve faculty diversity.8 There is also evidence to indicate the benefit of expanding professional coaching to support leaders’ personal growth in academic health centers.2,4,6,7

Adding academic coaching to medical education is an intriguing solution to achieving and maintaining competency. A coach can help learners self-identify the best path to success and hold learners accountable for continually identifying and closing gaps in their knowledge, attitudes, and skills. While a coaching relationship can ideally help a learner improve in initiating their self-reflection and self-monitoring, it would also model the concept that anyone, no matter how far along in their career, can benefit from participating in a coaching relationship.3

The purpose of coaching is to create a self-directed learning environment. The client is free to explore new, creative, and innovative thoughts and feelings. The client also pursues actions that allow personal development in ways that best suit their particular circumstances. The coach’s role is to facilitate the client’s self-discovery through active listening and powerful questioning. This sets coaching apart from mentoring, as mentors impart wisdom and often share advice and knowledge with the mentee. However, coaches work to unlock what the client already possesses and do not often share their thoughts or advice without first exploring the client’s ideas thoroughly.

Coaching sessions are confidential, and the details of discussions will remain strictly between the coach and client, with the following exceptions:

  • summary or recurring themes that indicate a shared organizational issue across multiple clients may be surfaced to senior management; in such instances, your identity will not be disclosed;
  • if you disclose information about activities that violate UNC’s policies or that the law requires us to report, such as illegal actions or life-threatening situations.

Our office supports faculty success through coaching, including executive and peer coaching, coach training, and programming for leaders to learn coaching skills. Faculty can express interest in being coached by completing this Peer Coaching Agreement. Once complete, a member of the FALD team will be in contact with the faculty member.

Please get in touch with Dr. Bryant Murphy, Associate Dean for Leadership Development, with questions.


  1. Alexander L, Bonnema R, Farmer S, Reimold S. Executive Coaching Women Faculty: A Focused Strategy to Build Resilience. American Association for Physician Leadership, March 25, 2020.
  2. Balser, JR (2019). The case for executive coaching in academic medicine. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol 71, No. 3, 165-169.
  3. Deiorio N, Miller Juve A, 2016, ‘Developing an academic coaching program’, MedEdPublish, 5, [3], 57,
  4. Freischlag, J. A. (2019). Put me in, coach: Reflections of one female physician turned academic leader on the transition of another. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 71(3), 170–174.
  5. Gazelle G, Liebschutz JM, Riess H. Physician Burnout: Coaching a Way Out. J Gen Intern Med. 2015 April;30(4);508-13.
  6. Mitchell, B. S. (2019). Perspectives on the importance of leadership and the value of coaching in an academic medical research institution. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 71(3), 175–178.
  7. Wasylyshyn, K. M. (2019). Winning the rodeo: How executive coaching helped an academic physician succeed in a senior-leadership role. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 71(3), 179–183.
  8. Williams SN, Thakore BK, McGee R. Coaching to Augment Mentoring to Achieve Faculty Diversity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Acad Med. 2016;91(8):1128-1135. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000001026
  9. ICF, the gold standard in coaching: Read about ICF. International Coaching Federation. (2021, September 23). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from