Should health professionals have coaches?

Tennis pros and opera singers benefit from coaching, so why not doctors and other professionals? Atul Gawande, associate professor in health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health and a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, explores this topic in the October 3, 2011, issue of The New Yorker magazine.

In the article “Personal Best,” Gawande outlines how he brought Robert Osteen, a retired surgeon with whom he had trained, into the operating room to observe him. To his surprise Osteen had a notebook full of suggested improvements. For instance, he suggested Gawande re-position his elbow when doing a particular maneuver, and recommended where Gawande could stand so the light reflected best on the operating site.

“There was a moment in sports when employing a coach was unimaginable—and then came a time when not doing so was unimaginable. We care about results in sports, and if we care half as much about results in schools and in hospitals we may reach the same conclusion,” Gawande writes.

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Listen to Gawande discuss the article on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”