Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Med Educ. 2017 Sep 26;8:343-350. doi: 10.5116/ijme.59bd.5845.

Are retired physicians suitable for the coaching of clerks?

Author information

Leiden University Medical Centre, Department of Education and Training, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Alrijne Hospital, Department of Gynaecology, Leiderdorp, Leiden and Alphen aan de Rijn, the Netherlands.
Leiden University Medical Centre, Department of Epidemiology, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Haaglanden Medical Centre, Department of Rheumatology, Den Haag, the Netherlands.
University Medical Centre Utrecht, Centre for Research and Development of Education, Utrecht, the Netherlands.



To assess whether clerks need coaches, for which issues, and whether retired physicians are able to support clerks.


 The study combines both qualitative and quantitative methods and the perspectives of both coaches and clerks. Clerks starting their first clerkship were randomised between having a coach (n=61) and not having a coach (n=59). All participants were followed for 18 months. Both clerks and coaches completed questionnaires. In addition, in-depth interviews with the coaches were conducted.


Clerks who had a coach were happy to have one. During follow-up, there were no differences between both groups concerning free time, self-esteem, stress, or the number of conflict situations. Clerks with a coach indicated to have less stress as compared to the clerks without a coach (delta values concerning occurrence of stress in clerks with a coach 0.35 [95% confidence interval: -0.07 to 0.77, p=0.10] versus clerks without a coach 0.71 [95% confidence interval: 0.29 to 1.12, p=0.002]). Different issues were discussed with the coaches, such as career issues, deceased patients, unacceptable behaviour of staff, or unpleasant fellow clerks. All coaches liked fulfilling the role of coach. Many found it an interesting way of doing something after their recent retirement from clinical practice. They mentioned that clerks needed them more during the first year of clerkship than later on.


Retired physicians can be used as coaches for clerks. They are well motivated and have enough time for this task. Clerks are enthusiastic about the coaches.


clerkships; coaches; mentorship; qualitative study; tutorship

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for International journal of medical education Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center