With the burnout epidemic becoming top-of-mind for more and more healthcare organizations around the world, institutions are dedicating more time and resources to finding solutions to improve clinician well-being and the general culture of medicine. As part of this effort, recent studies continue to show the impact professional coaching can have on individual providers and the overall culture of an organization.
We recently sat down with Sandy Scott of Sandy Scott Consulting Group to talk about the work that they're doing and the impact group coaching is having in the healthcare community. The Well-Being Index is proud to partner with Sandy Scott Consulting Group to help organizations reduce distress systematically and maximize the well-being of their staff. Here's what Sandy Scott had to say.
How did you become a group coach and start Sandy Scott Consulting Group?
SS: I didn’t plan on this path. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed. Twenty-eight years ago I gave birth to my oldest son who was quickly diagnosed with severe disabilities. Those early years were spent trying to find a path, and I stumbled into group coaching and got trained. It became this incredible framework for me to reorganize my world view to raise my son and family. It then became a framework to understand what’s really possible. I went on to work at Banner Health and built their advanced leadership programs across the country. I then went to work for another consulting group where I did a lot of physician leadership development. Through these experiences, I became aware of how many people impacted our lives for so many years, and so what we are all about is paying it forward at scale to give back.
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How does Sandy Scott Consulting Group help organizations?
SS: We align with organizations in which there is a real commitment to transforming the culture by investing in their people. We do that by providing individual coaching along with group accelerator programs, which are very fast-paced cohort experiences that deliver incredible results.
Group coaching is a way to bring together a community of people in a very focused and deliberate way, and essentially cut out the noise and create a safe place where we can learn skills and tactics, apply them in realtime, and then come back and share what insights we gathered. When people come together in a really safe environment and have a deliberate series of conversations, it is magical what can happen. Group coaching rehumanizes people. It allows physicians to be people first. It gives people a safe place to reconnect with their own humanity.
The biggest investment you can make for your team, hospital, and metrics is in yourself.
What is the biggest challenge with getting institutions to buy into the change that needs to happen?
SS: One of the biggest barriers we find is that the decision-makers are often Chief Medical Officers or other physician leaders who were trained in a certain hierarchy or a certain way of thinking. What we’ve found is that those leaders who are actively unlearning some of those aspects and are building more emotional intelligence and diplomacy are quick to adopt this kind of work. Those who are still entrenched in an older model of learning seem to be more skeptical.
The biggest way that we’ve engaged people is to start with a small group of individuals who are curious, interested, or have done some work on emotional intelligence or personal/professional development. We’ll work with that small pilot group to create and disseminate a message for their peers.
If you had every CMO in front of you, what is one thing you would want to tell them?
SS: The biggest investment you can make for your team, hospital, and metrics is in yourself. These leaders have incredibly important jobs; they’re managing incredible complexity, and I think one of the biggest investments they can make is to continue building their own self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills. Investing in themselves creates a ripple effect. To pause and do a refresh of who they are and how they’re impacting others would be an incredible way to impact their organization and lift up everyone.
Be willing to get real about what the current situation is. No judgments—just allow yourself to be real and courageous.
What are the steps to take for an organization wanting to improve well-being?
SS: The first step would be to go out rounding and find some physicians who are passionate about the topic and committed to taking care of the organization. Find a core group of people to bring together and then do some initial work identifying the challenges. Find a model that you would all like to follow, put together a process on how you’re going to gather data, and then really invest in that team to build the plan together with the physicians that they represent.
At Sandy Scott Consulting Group, we connect with the well-being team or the Chief Wellness Officer at a facility and find out what their challenges and ideal outcomes are. From there, we’ll put together a plan and proposal. A general proposal that we have is to work with the wellness committee to launch the Well-Being Index assessment to gather data, and then we work with them to add in our customized resources.
What are two or three things that you want people to understand in preparation for a coaching experience?
SS: Be willing to get real about what the current situation is. No judgments—just allow yourself to be real and courageous. Have the courage to dream big. Dream big about what matters and what is important. Be committed to some action in between each group meeting.
What is one message you’d want to pass along to physicians?
SS: You impact people way more than they could ever imagine. Our family is thriving because of the impact physicians had, and so I would want to remind them to stay true to their dreams and remember why they got into medicine. There’s no secret sauce about how to build your path other than really investing in your own well-being because it matters.