Coaching for the Burned Out Doctor

By Jimmy Turner, MD
The Physician Philosopher

In the Alpha Coaching Experience we help doctors who feel trapped in medicine master their money and mindset so that they can find the freedom they need to practice medicine on their terms. This is a hybrid coaching program where we teach doctors how to master The 3 Pillars to Physician Freedom (Mindset, Money, and Ideal Life Balance).  Click here for more information on the Alpha Coaching Experience.

Life Coaching is not a new phenomenon.

It has been around for some time in other fields, namely in the form of business/executive coaches or individual coaches for elite athletes/performers. Many other fields have recognized the benefits of having an outside party help you with your thought life in order to improve your emotional state, actions, and results. Yet, it has taken the majority of medicine much longer to recognize the benefits of physician life coaching.

The most recent example of this being a JAMA 2019 article showing that professional coaching produced less burnout and a better quality of life for those who participated in it.

Why does physician life coaching provide such a huge benefit?

It all starts with our thoughts.

The Life Coach School Model

I started my journey into life coaching through the Self Coaching Scholars program provided at the Life Coach School.

What happened next?

It changed my life by teaching me to change my thoughts.

The model that they teach at The Life Coach School is simple, but life-changing: Thoughts lead to Feelings and those Feelings lead to Actions.

Those actions are what determine the trajectory of our life. Yet, if we can learn to change our thoughts, then the rest (our feelings/emotions and the actions that follow) will change, too.

Yet, it isn’t as easy as you think to change your thoughts. Those thoughts have potentially been there for years. If so, they have likely turned into beliefs. Unraveling that takes time and effort.

For doctors, it also requires getting a physician’s life coach.

Physician Life Coaching Topics

All of this begs a question. What areas of our lives stand to benefit the most from physician life coaching?

Honestly, the sky is the limit, but before we answer the questions, let me introduce concept to you called “Buffering”.

Buffering is what we do when we choose to do something in order to avoid a negative emotion that we don’t want to experience. This negative emotion might be anxiety, depression, overwhelm, or anger. You might buffer these emotions by overeating, overdrinking alcohol, or overworking.

So, you can see that there are some obvious areas where coaching could stand to help.

Here is a high-yield list of the ways that physician life coaching stands to benefit most doctors:

  • How to become a better husband or dad.
  • Finding work-life balance.
  • Decreasing burnout.
  • How to have tough conversations with your chair/CEO/boss
  • Dealing with buffering (overdrinking, overworking).
  • Helping to combat feeling overwhelmed.
  • How to take massive action instead of delaying that “dream” career.
  • Pursuing entrepreneurial efforts inside or outside of medicine (side gigs, anyone?).
  • Money coaching to help provide financial freedom.

Honestly, the sky is the limit here. There isn’t an area of life that doesn’t fit into the model or that you couldn’t improve through Physician Life Coaching.

The Secret Ingredient: Self-Coaching

Everything above may sound too good to be true, but its not. There is a secret ingredient that lets life coaching work, and it is inside of you.

No, really. It is.

Every answer you need is within you. You just need someone to help you find it, practice it, and hold you accountable to believing it.

It is a coach’s job to help choices/decisions you make unintentionally to become a very intentional decision. For example, if you overdrink to avoid a three-nager (aka a 3-year old with a 13-year-old’s attitude) yelling at you while you homeschool two children on your days off when all you want to do is take a break…. there is a way to fix that.

How do I know? Because that was me before Life Coaching.

I learned, through coaching, that I needed to reset that dopaminergic system where I learned Stress = Urge to Drink = Hit of Dopamine. If I could learn to change my thoughts about the situation or to simply watch my stress when it happened (instead of acting on it automatically to get that hit of dopamine), then I could choose to drink when I want and how much I want.

Now, I decide on how much and what I’ll drink 24 hours in advance, and never drink without that happening. I’ve avoided overdrinking 99% of the time since I started this journey.

The crazy part is that the answer was inside of me all the time. It just took life coaching to help me realize it.

While your problem may not be overdrinking (and maybe something else on that list above)… physician life coaching can help.


Welcome to the world of Life Coaching! Click here to join the waitlist for the next Alpha Coaching Experience enrollment. It opens up 3 times per year.


  1. Rikki Racela

    Nice man! I’ve tried to do the same with drinking and also suffer from that Stress = Urge to Drink = Hit of Dopamine with the kids. I am now Stress = Urge to read TPP = Hit of Dopamine.

  2. PrudentPlasticSurgeon

    Best of luck in your new endeavor! I am sure you will be successful. I can’t agree more about how important mindset is in our overall personal well being. The path to becoming a physician rewards intense and singular focus. Too often, we allow this to become our ONLY focus however creating an immense amount of stress. Breaking this habit and re focusing on well being will not only make us better parents, spouses etc but much better doctors as well. Congrats on your success and thanks you for leading the charge.

    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon

  3. Jason Phillips

    I’m a chiropractor do you only coach MDs ?
    I’m fantasizing about quitting

    • Jimmy Turner, MD

      we coach a variety of doctors (dentists, chiropractors, physicians, etc)


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also be interested in…

You Are Strong: Don’t Let Burnout Win

You Are Strong: Don’t Let Burnout Win

You were strong enough when you lost your autonomy for the first time along this journey to becoming a doctor.  You were strong when your empathy began to fade.  You are still strong enough today to fight this fight.

The Road To Burnout Helped Me Find My Purpose

The Road To Burnout Helped Me Find My Purpose

We all know the story. The happy and forward looking medical student entering their first year, and the end result of the burned out and depressed doctor at the end. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. How did we get here? This is why I write.

Are you ready to live a life you love?