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“This is a place where I can breathe, explore, talk to somebody and start devising and designing my next steps because I have goals, I have a vision, I have a life I want to live.” -Coach Gabriella Dennery MD

Have you ever wondered if you could benefit from professional Coaching? In this episode, Jill and Gabriella talk about exactly that: shining a light on who benefits from coaching and in what life situations a Coach can be especially useful to help you navigate through. Professional Coaching has well established benefits, and here at DocWorking, Coaching physicians is our specialty! So if you are curious about Coaching you are in the right place! At DocWorking we offer individual Coaching as well as DocWorking THRIVE, which is a comprehensive membership program that offers a ton of benefits including monthly group Coaching sessions and a private online physician community facilitated by our coaches, as well as virtual courses available 24-7 designed to accommodate the busy physician schedule. Tune in to this episode to find out what you could gain from professional Coaching. 

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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran

Please enjoy the full transcript below

Gabriella: This is the place where I can breathe, explore, talk to somebody, and start devising and designing my next steps, because I have goals, I have a vision, I have a life I want to live.


[DocWorking theme]


Gabriella: Hi, my name is Gabriella Dennery, MD, co-lead life coach at DocWorking, and I’m here with my amazing co-lead Jill Farmer, Master Life coach. Today we’re going to talk about a topic that comes up quite a bit in general conversation for me, Jill, and I’m sure for you as well, what makes for a good coaching client? In other words, who benefits from coaching? We can talk about the benefits of coaching, left, right and center because it truly is an amazing tool and skill to be able to share with people. At the same time, it’s pretty specific in certain ways as to who really gets the most out of it. I wanted your take on that today, who benefits from coaching, Jill? 


Jill: First of all, I just want to say big picture. It’s so interesting to me, I’ve been coaching for, gosh, now going on more than a dozen years. In corporate America and even entrepreneurs and regular folk who are not physicians, coaching has just over the last 15 years, I say, become very normalized. It wasn’t just this weird thing that people only on the Coasts did, or people had too much time and money on their hands, hired a coach. It was personal training was really a weird thing 30 years ago, and now everybody has a personal trainer in a lot of ways to help them get fit. I think coaching has become that. But it’s newer, I think, in the physician world, I think, it’s been more like the last probably five years. For a lot of people, it’s more less than one or two years that they said, “Oh.” And largely that came from some research, I think out of Harvard University that said, “Oh, it turns out physicians who have this trusted thinking partner, and a coach are actually reporting some lower levels of burnout, reconnection to what brought them to this work.” 


And so that helps some physicians be like, “Oh, what is this coaching thing? What’s this life coaching thing about? And can it be helpful for me?” Coaching is for mentally healthy people. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, or that you can’t have had depression or anxiety or other issues. I would say many of my clients are under the care of a therapist, or at least off and on during times of work while they’re working with coaching. But you’re in a mentally regulated state, and you are looking for ways to have a trusted thinking partner through a process of inquiry. We’re not here to give you a roadmap or a stamp to say, “Do this, and you’re going to get better.” But somebody who is open to coaching to understand themselves better, and in the process of understanding themselves better. Have a trusted thinking partner to help co-create a strategy for making progress and living the life that matters to them in a way that is really often reconnected to how they can thrive. That’s the big picture way I look at it. Maybe that’s too big picture, maybe we need to drill it down a little bit. What are your thoughts on that, Gabriella?


Gabriella: I agree, and piggybacking on that, I don’t want to go into the difference between therapy and coaching at this point. In my coaching clients, a lot of times it’s people who are just overwhelmed at their wit’s end, but there’s still that desire for change, it’s still that hope that things can change. It’s just a question, how is this going to happen. Having that trusted partner, as you say, that trusted thinking partner, I like that term and that terminology, to really be able to bounce off ideas, to brainstorm, to connect the dots in ways that perhaps the client doesn’t, but because you’re an objective, while you’re involved with at the same time, you can see a bigger picture for them and with them, that you may be able to help them connect the dots in a different way. 


What I love about coaching is that it’s a partnership. I’m not here to give you advice. I’m not here to tell you what to do. It’s very tempting, and as a physician coach, there’s always that temptation to go into fix it mode, because we want the solution to happen right here right now. Sometimes I’m raising my hand like, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know what to do.” [laughs] But, at the same time, nobody likes to be told what to do, at least no adult that I know and no child that I know. It’s important that that person comes up with their own solution. There is no greater feeling in the world, feelings of success and of achievement by being able to say, “Yeah, this makes sense to me, because it has to make sense of that person.” Whatever the wonderful ideas, suggestions that a person may have that another person or coach or a friend or a family member may have about that person’s life or doctor may have about that person’s life, it has to stick with them. So, they get to come up with that. 


As you said, it’s an environment of trust and support. It’s an environment that is very humble. The egos get checked out the door. Both client and coach are willing to change, are willing to have an open mind, are willing to explore unknown territory, and that’s probably I think the biggest asset of coaching is that there’s no real expectation than the one that person sets themselves. At the same time, they get to really dig deep in a place of trust, that allows vulnerability, that allows being able to say, “You know what? This is the place where I can breathe, explore, talk to somebody, and start devising and designing my next steps because I have goals, I have a vision, I have a life I want to live, but I need a little support in that arena, from somebody else who can listen in a certain way that may be the way that I can get at some point.” 


The coach gets to know their client and the client gets to know their coach, and it’s a two-way street, as opposed to a doctor patient. There are certain barriers that need to be respected, which is absolutely important. And the coach, there are boundaries that needs to be respected as well, but it’s a human conversation, both people at the same level. I can only grow as much as my clients grow, my clients can only grow as much as I grow. And that too, because I’m a mirror for that person. Wherever I’m stuck, my client will be stuck. Wherever they’re stuck, I’m going to be stuck. We do the work together. What would you add to that, Jill?


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Jill: Just a couple of things, I think those are beautiful descriptions. Some people will say, “Well, what do you mean you’re not going to give me advice? That’s what I’m looking for somebody else’s ideas.” The reason we say that in coaching, and it’s a little bit jargony, when we say that is because advice often comes with attachments. It comes from, “I’m going to tell you this thing, and then you better do it or you’re–” and what we’re meaning by that really is that we will have ideas, we’ve been doing this while, and as Gabriella said, she brings this expertise as coming from the life as a physician, she may share ideas, I always say it’s like I’m throwing ideas sometimes over the dressing room door, and a lot of them aren’t going to fit and a lot of them are. But it’s co-creating that, it’s not me telling you what the advice is you should do this. It’s saying, “Here’s what I see in the situation. Here’s a different perspective,” that’s the trusted thinking partner, reflecting back to you what you’re telling me about your situation, which often hearing that, it helps us lightbulbs go off. “Oh, yeah, that’s what’s happening.” I’m spinning. I’m the client, and I’m stuck when I have my own coaches, it was so great, because all they were really doing often was repeating back to me what I was saying to them, but I couldn’t hear it when it was spinning in my own head. 


They are saying in their own words reflecting back, boom, the light bulb goes off, and then they start throwing some ideas about ways that it might be interesting to quit doing the same damn thing over and over again and expecting different results, which as we all know, is the definition of idiocy. But instead looking at some different possibilities and ideas for doing it differently. 


Just some practical tactical situations in life that people often find coaching help with, when they’re feeling stuck, all the same things are happening that made me happy last year, but somehow, I’m not feeling it. So, places where you feel stuck, places where you’re being challenged a lot, you have a new goal that you’ve created for yourself or that somebody else has created for you and you’re a little unsure about ways to get where you want to go. Coaching can be a fabulous partnership in that situation. When you’ve got a big project or something that you’re finding yourself procrastinating from that you need somebody else to help you co-create a strategy or a plan or use some skills and techniques to be able to move through it, instead of just staying stuck with that. When you want to do some visioning for your future, and everything’s good where you are now, but you’d like to be able to think about what could be happening in the future, when you want some support. Changing up the dynamics of professional or personal relationships and ways to show up at your best, even when you’re around personalities that are challenging. 


Those are some specific examples of working with clients. Entering into new jobs, leaving jobs, all those kinds of things can be really, really, really powerful times for coaching. Am I missing any, Gabriella?


Gabriella: No, I don’t believe so. You’re talking about life transitions, such as new jobs, new situations, feeling stuck, feeling overwhelmed and wanting to tease it out. Again, knowing that there is an answer, I think coaching clients are wonderful and that they know that somehow something is going to change, and it can change, and that they’re willing to put in the work. I think that would be the one thing I’m adding, is that a coaching client is willing to put in the work to make that change happen, along with the coach, and working towards moving forward. You think of any athlete, that’s exactly what they do. They work with their coaches to make whatever– even incremental changes can make a huge difference in terms of their performance. And so that’s why the coach is there. I would say think about it in those ways, except in the reflection, of course, and letting people know, repeating back what they say, what they’ve heard, “Well, I hear it this way, what do you think?” etc., etc., and checking in with them. The only differences, “Yeah, I’m not going to tell you what to do.” 


Jill: The difference between maybe coaching and some other mental health modalities is that coaching often is the embodied action, of taking the reflections and the clear vision of what it is you want to do, and then getting some support and how to actually do it. It’s getting clear out of our own heads, often through that coaching, trusted thinking partner on who we are, what we want to do, and then how we want to do it and then support as you embody it, and actually do it, just got to put it into action, or it’s just all there. And so that’s part of what we’re here for to is to really help support you when things go well, and when they don’t go so well. That’s another great thing about coaching, is it’s like a lot of times, we’re really good at the idea and the rah-rah as individuals, I am anyway. And then my coach is like, “Okay, now let’s go try this,” and then I come back and say, “Ugh. This isn’t working.” They’re like, “Great. That just means we get to think about a new way of doing it,” that can help make us a little less afraid of failure as coaching clients when we have the coach there to help support us through that. 


Those are what we would just want you guys to be thinking about as it relates to coaching. We are here to support you, through individual coaching or through most effectively perhaps now in a fully supported environment through DocWorking THRIVE. It is a coaching community, full of professional coaches here to support physicians, I really recommend that you go check it out right now because it could be just what you’re looking for. 


On behalf of Gabrielle Dennery MD, lead coach, DocWorking. I am Jill Farmer, and thanks for joining us on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.




Amanda: Hello, and thank you for listening. This is Amanda Taran. I’m the producer of the DocWorking podcast. If you enjoyed our podcast, please like and subscribe. We would also love it, if you check out our website which is And you can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram. On Instagram, we are @docworking1, and that is with the number one. When you check us out on social, please let us know what you would like to hear on the podcast. Your feedback really means a lot to us. And if you’re a physician with a story you’d like to tell, please reach out to me at [email protected] to apply to be on the podcast. Thank you again and we look forward to talking with you on the next episode of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.


Jill Farmer is an experienced physician coach who has been helping doctors live their best lives, increase their success, and move through burnout for well over a decade.

She has delivered keynotes, programs, and training everywhere from Harvard Medical School to the American College of Cardiology.

She has personally coached hundreds of physicians, surgeons, and other busy professionals to help them be at their best—without burning themselves out. Her coaching has supported professionals at places like Mass General Brigham in Boston, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago and too many others to list.

Jill wrote the book on time management for busy people. Literally. It’s called “There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” which debuted as a bestseller on Amazon. Her work has been featured everywhere from Inc. to Fitness Magazine to The Washington Post.

Nationally recognized as a “brilliant time optimizer and life maximizer,” Jill will cut straight to the heart of your stress to liberate you from its shackles. She has two young adult daughters. She lives with her husband and their poorly behaved dachshund in St. Louis, MO.

Life Coach Gabriella Dennery, MD OMD is passionate about helping busy physicians rediscover the joy of their calling. She draws on her training as a physician, a musician, and an ordained non-denominational minister in addition to health & wellness and life coaching to offer professionals from all walks of life the benefit of her broad experience and deep insights.

You can find Gabriella as one of the co-creators of STAT: Quick Wins To Get Your Life Back.

The daughter of a psychiatrist mother and a neurosurgeon father, both from Haiti, Gabriella and her five siblings were expected to choose from five noble callings: Medicine, Dentistry, Engineering, Law, or Agronomy (caring for the delicate soil of Haiti).

Gabriella, an innately gifted healer and teacher, chose Medicine and graduated with honors from Howard University College of Medicine, “The Mecca.” Following her residency in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Gabriella moved to New York City to serve as an attending physician and clinical instructor in Harlem and later as medical director and attending physician at SUNY Downstate Bedford-Stuyvesant satellite clinic in Brooklyn.

Her greatest joy as a primary care physician was supporting her patients, shepherding them to Aha moments, and nurturing positive shifts in perspective that measurably improved their health and wellbeing–a strength that makes Gabriella so effective as a coach.

After more than ten years of practicing internal medicine, Gabriella chose to explore the integration of medicine, music, and ministry to promote better health of her fellow physicians by becoming a physician coach. She successfully coaches physicians to prevent and/or navigate through physician burnout, reach career and personal goals, clarify and take actionable steps to achieve their own personal vision, and is well known for helping doctors at all stages of their careers, from students to residents/fellows to practicing physicians. She maintains her work-life balance by playing percussion and violin, composing music, and enjoying a very fun and fulfilling marriage.

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