From Surviving to Thriving: How Coaching for Learning Cultivates Adaptive Expertise
September 20, 2023
September 20, 2023

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The pace of change in health care is accelerating, with medical knowledge doubling every 73 days. This rapid change can overwhelm clinicians and challenge educators to prepare the next generation of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

This makes adaptive expertise—the ability to apply knowledge flexibly and master new skills—even more critical. Clinicians with adaptive expertise can provide care efficiently, innovate solutions, and thrive amidst change.

However, few learners naturally develop adaptive expertise. Transitioning from medical school to residency is difficult as new residents lack the strategies to identify knowledge gaps and set goals. Without adaptive expertise, they rely on trial and error.

Coaching for learning is key to overcoming these challenges because it amplifies the competencies students need to develop adaptive expertise. By collaborating with a coach, students enhance performance, foster accountability, and build skills to guide their own lifelong learning.  To understand how coaching for learning is unique, it helps to define other common support roles in health professions education.

In health professions education, we take on many roles to support students, including mentoring, advising, and coaching.

Mentoring involves an experienced individual imparting knowledge and guidance to help a mentee navigate their career or development. Advising provides expert guidance to help students decide about curriculum and research opportunities.

Coaching for learning is distinct in that it aims to enhance student performance in specific areas by collaborating with students to set goals, develop strategies, and foster accountability. But how can you tell if you are acting as a learning coach versus a mentor or an advisor? Ask yourself:

  • Who is the expert? In coaching, the student is the expert, not the coach. The coach facilitates, the student drives the process.
  • Who does the work? The student is the expert, they do the heavy lifting. The coach supports, the student carries out the work.
  • Who does the talking? In coaching, the student does most of the talking. The coach listens and asks questions rather than providing advice.

It’s key to keep focus on the student as an expert and doer, while the learning coach facilitates the process. By experiencing effective coaching and developing core competencies, students gain skills to guide their own lifelong learning. This develops the adaptive expertise needed to meet the challenges of constant change in healthcare.  In our next blog, we explore the impact of coaching and the important competencies for learning coaches to develop.

On-Demand Coaching Webinars

Integrating Formative Assessment: Strategies to Enhance Student Learning

During this 60-minute webinar, we will provide an overview of formative assessment and its advantages and how to avoid its pitfalls, as well as introduce a new formative assessment tool developed by Aquifer, Calibrate. The session will also explore how leaders can use formative assessment results to improve their curriculum and support students.

Accelerate Learning with Aquifer’s “Anyone Can Coach” Method

During this 60-minute webinar, we will provide an overview of the benefits of coaching for health professions students, introduce participants to the ‘Anyone Can Coach!’ framework, and share tools and strategies for implementing this approach.

Implementing Formative Assessment with Coaching

In this webinar, we will introduce coaching tools developed by Aquifer, including a coaching script, that are aimed at improving the effectiveness of coaching with formative assessment.

Aquifer Podcast: Implementing Coaching in Clinical Settings

In this episode, Sherilyn Smith returns to our podcast to discuss how to implement coaching in clinical settings. We revisit our discussion about the value of coaching to develop master adaptive learners and then spend time focusing on the specifics of preparing for and conducting coaching conversations with learners, with advice on how to use Aquifer Calibrate, our new formative assessment system.

Aquifer Podcast: Coaching Conversations: Tips & Tools to Empower Your Learners

In this episode, Dr. Sherilyn Smith provides tips on how to prepare for and conduct coaching conversations that develop students into lifelong learners who are able to create plans, take time to reflect, identify personal learning gaps, and are motivated to fill those gaps. She explores ways to empower learners to create goals, develop strategies, incorporate feedback, and build on prior knowledge.

Tags: coaching
Successful Strategies

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