Self Reflection and Coaching: Tools for Lifelong Learning

Jennifer Caputo-Seidler, MD
2 min readFeb 22, 2021

An essential quality of all healthcare professionals is that they will become masters of their own lifelong learning. The most successful learners are the ones who have the ability to determine their strengths and limitations, set goals, and self reflect on their effectiveness in progression towards those goals.

This reflection process can be particularly helpful if done with the guidance of a coach. Coaching is an active conversation between two people focused on a specific problem. Coaching is based on the assumption that the learner has the solution to the problem within themselves and the coach’s role is to reveal that solution by asking the right questions. Coaching is not counseling, teaching, or solving the problem for the learner.

Take a cue from Aaron Burr and talk less. In the best coaching sessions, the learner does most of the talking. To take a coaching conversation to a more productive place, commit to allowing at least 5 seconds of silence at least one time in the conversation. This creates the space the learner needs to brainstorm their own solutions.

Curiosity is a prerequisite for effective coaching. Probing questions are the most useful tools in the coaching toolbox. The GROW method is one coaching framework for helping coaches ask the right questions. GROW stands for Goal, current Reality, Options, and Way forward.

Ask the learner to define their Goal. What does success look like to you?

Assess their current Reality. Where are you now? What have you done up until this point?

Brainstorm the Options. What could you do next? What support would you need to make that happen? What might get in your way?

Wrap up the coaching session with the learner committing to a Way forward. What will you do next? When will you do it?

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Jennifer Caputo-Seidler, MD
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Hospital medicine physician with a passion for gender equity, narrative medicine, and medical education. jennifermcaputo.com