Coaching a Surgeon

This article, by Atul Gawande, looks at why certain professions have coaches, and more importantly, why some don’t. I liked this bit:

Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components. In sports, coaches focus on mechanics, conditioning, and strategy, and have ways to break each of those down, in turn. The U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, at the first squad meeting each season, even had his players practice putting their socks on. He demonstrated just how to do it: he carefully rolled each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel, and pulled it up snug, then went back to his toes and smoothed out the material along the sock’s length, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases. He had two purposes in doing this. First, wrinkles cause blisters. Blisters cost games. Second, he wanted his players to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could be. “Details create success” was the creed of a coach who won ten N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championships.

The other interesting part was Gawande talking about being coached as a surgeon. He asked a former mentor to observe his surgeries and take notes. Almost immediately, Gawande discovers things he could do to make his surgeries more successful. The way Gawande talks about being coached makes clear doctor coaching is something that should be explored further.

Coaching a Surgeon

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