I’m coming up on my last 3 days for the academic year and reflecting now that my favorite season is upon us. Spring does that to me, especially now that I’ve been in the phased retirement contract for the last 2 years. I’ll be going into the 3rd and final year as of July.

I just found out that next week I’ll be among those faculty members selected to receive the Excellence in Clinical Coaching Award from the Gradual Medical Education Office at the Leadership Symposium.

I’ve received teaching awards from the residents at graduation time (another sign of spring!) over the years and I’m always grateful for their recognition. The Excellence in Clinical Coaching Award is recognition from my department as a whole, the members of which put together a nomination package including letters from department leaders as well as trainees.

 I’m also humbled by it because I’ve learned a lot from everyone with whom I’ve had the privilege of working, but my favorites are the trainees, including medical students. In fact, I learned from them again in the last week or so. Three talented medical students gave outstanding presentations about issues relevant to all physicians, not just psychiatrists.

They will be excellent physicians. They will teach others. They will lead and it’s a good thing—medicine needs them.

I like the coach idea. I know one of the internal medicine residents thought of me as a mentor. I’m aware of the differences between mentors and coaches as well as the similarities.

Coaches spend relatively less time with learners and the focus of the relationship is usually a set of specific skills which needs to be passed on. Mentors tend to develop longer term relationships and guide learners in broader ways in terms of career goals and more.

However, both mentors and coaches serve as role models, something all teachers do—including trainees.

That’s partly why I feel less troubled about retiring as my time to leave draws nearer. I trust the next generation of doctors and, just like the Supremes song says, “You better make way for the young folks.” It’s my time to leave. It’s their time to live.

Even the birds know that.

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