Background: Many coaching methods have been well studied and formalized, but the approach most commonly used in the continuing education of surgeons is peer coaching. Through a qualitative thematic analysis, we sought to determine if surgeons can comfortably and effectively transition to a co-learner dynamic for effective peer coaching. Methods: This qualitative study evaluated 20 surgeons participating in a video review coaching exercise in October 2015. Each conversation was coded by 2 authors focusing on the dynamics of the coach and coachee relationship. Once coded, thematic analysis was performed. Results: Two themes emerged in our analysis: (1) Participants often alternated between the roles of coach and coachee, even though they received assigned roles prior to the start of the session. For example, a coach would defer to the coachee, suggesting they felt unqualified to teach a particular technique or procedure. (2) The interactions demonstrated bidirectional exchange of ideas with both participants offering expertise when appropriate. For example, the coach and coachee frequently engaged in back-and-forth discussion about techniques, instrument selection, and intraoperative decision-making. Conclusion: Our qualitative analysis demonstrates that surgeons naturally and effectively assume co-learner roles when participating in an early surgical coaching experience.
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