Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 11, pp 1842–1844 | Cite as

Professional Development Coaching for Residents: Results of a 3-Year Positive Psychology Coaching Intervention

  • Kerri Palamara
  • Carol Kauffman
  • Yuchiao Chang
  • Esteban A. Barreto
  • Liyang Yu
  • Hasan Bazari
  • Karen Donelan
Concise Research Reports


Residents are more likely to experience burnout compared to their age-matched peers.1 The Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has mandated that residency programs address resident and faculty well-being through their Clinical Learning Environment Review (CLER) program.2

Positive psychology coaching can help residents connect with and achieve positive emotions, meaningful relationships, strengths, engagement, and purpose.3 We implemented the Professional Development Coaching Program (PDCP) in our internal medicine residency program in 2012 and demonstrated a reduction in intern emotional exhaustion (EE) after year 1.4 In this paper, we report on the experiences of residents after year 3.


Setting and Participants

The PDCP included 179 residents who were assigned a coach in the 2014–2015 academic year. Pairs were expected to meet quarterly and participation was logged administratively. We define full participation as ≥ 3 meetings per year;...


burnout medical education-professionalism medical education-mentoring curriculum/program evaluation medical education-graduate 



Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education


Clinical Learning Environment Review


emotional exhaustion


Maslach Burnout Inventory


Professional Development Coaching Program



The authors wish to thank the faculty coaches and resident participants who engaged in the program, as well as the Department of Medicine for their support in developing and onboarding this program. The authors wish to express gratitude to the Dr. George Thibault and the Josiah H. Macy Foundation, as well as the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, for the financial support for our program evaluation. The authors wish to acknowledge the Institute of Coaching for their expertise in designing and implementing this program.


The Josiah H. Macy Foundation provided $35,000 of funding through a President’s Grant to support the establishment and investigation of this program. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation provided $100,000 of funding through a Healthcare Grant to support the investigation and dissemination of this program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Data Sharing

Data sharing was not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.

Ethical Approval

This program and its evaluation were exempt by the institutional review board with exemption #45 CFR 46.101(b) (1). The research was conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices.

Prior Presentations

While the tools and implementation process used in the coaching program have been shared in numerous workshops at national conferences (Society of General Internal Medicine, Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, American College of Physicians) and invited faculty development workshops, the data included in this paper has not been previously presented.


  1. 1.
    Dyrbye LN, West CP, Satele D, Boone S, Tan L, Sloan J, Shanafelt TD. Burnout among US medical students, residents, and early career physicians relative to the general US population. Acad Med 2014;89(3):443–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. CLER Pathways to Excellence. Accessed 12 April 2017.
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    Butler J, Kern ML. The PERMA-Profiler: a brief multidimensional measure of flourishing. Int J Wellbeing 2016; 6(3):1–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Palamara K, Kauffman C, Bazari H, Stone V, Donelan K. Promoting success: a professional development coaching program for interns in medicine. JGME 2015; 7(4);630–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Perlo J, Balik B, Swensen S, Kabcenell A, Landsman J, Feeley D. IHI Framework for Improving Joy in Work. IHI White Paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2017.Google Scholar
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    Maslach C, Schaufeli W, Leiter M. Job burnout. Annu Rev Psychol 2001;52(1), 397–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerri Palamara
    • 1
  • Carol Kauffman
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yuchiao Chang
    • 1
  • Esteban A. Barreto
    • 4
  • Liyang Yu
    • 1
  • Hasan Bazari
    • 1
  • Karen Donelan
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Medicine Massachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Institute of CoachingMcLean HospitalBelmontUSA
  4. 4.Mongan Institute Health Policy CenterMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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