From Family Medicine to Becoming a Coach's Coach: Meet Kim Foster, M.D.

TransforMD: Describe your traditional path in medicine:

Kim: I obtained my M.D. in 1997, and completed my residency in family medicine at McMaster University, Canada in 1999, and began working as a family physician immediately afterward, going on to work in a variety of settings, including locums, private practice in Vancouver for several years, and at academic centers like the University of Calgary and The University of Victoria.

TransforMD: What was the turning point or inspiration for you to make a major shift in your career? What are you doing differently now?

Kim: Over a span of several years, my interest in the wellness side of medicine had been growing steadily (everything from nutrition to yoga to stress management). This interest was partly inspired by my work with patients (and seeing the massive difference a healthy lifestyle can make) but it also arose from a major health scare I experienced in 2011, and the lifestyle changes I made as a result. I began speaking about wellness, writing and blogging about healthy living, and making media appearances on TV and radio. Soon enough, in my traditional medical career, I reached a point where I was thoroughly disillusioned with the healthcare system, frustrated and limited by conventional medicine, and ready for something new, bigger, more free. But I felt trapped because I was making good money in clinical medicine and I had a secure, stable career -- and those things don’t come easily in this world. A nurse in our clinic left to pursue coaching and I was intrigued by this pathway; I looked into it and was blown away. It was exactly what I wanted to do. So I secretly pursued coaching on the side, doing the training, and starting to build a business, bit by bit. It took a few years but I am now both a wellness coach and a business coach for other health coaches and wellness entrepreneurs. Being a coach lights me up in the most incredible way. I truly feel aligned and in flow when I’m working with clients, creating programs, and continuing to grow my business. It’s fun and creative … and incredibly rewarding.

TransforMD: Did you have doubts or hurdles along the way? What was the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?

Kim: I definitely had doubts and challenges along the way. Trying to build a coaching business didn’t go well at first. I couldn’t figure out how to connect with potential clients, I didn’t know how to create programs or package my services. I certainly didn’t know how to market myself or sell my services. These were all things I had never had to learn or do. I had way more failures and false starts than successes and a lot of frustration. I conducted my very first discovery call from my car (during my lunch break)...and it was so awkward. I had no idea what I was doing. Amazingly, though, she said yes, and signed on with me. For a year I struggled and had teensy bits of income dripping in. I was frustrated and in despair. At this rate I’d never be able to leave clinical medicine. I couldn’t see a way out. Then I decided to get smart. And strategic. I had been trying to figure everything out all on my own, in secret. I had no entrepreneurial friends, and frankly everyone in my real life was very discouraging about my ideas to pursue something else. One day I was listening to a podcast about the concept of “going pro” versus dabbling, and I realized I had just been dabbling in my business. It was time to go pro. So I found a couple of key mentors, enrolled in some high-end programs that were oriented around the business and marketing aspects of coaching, and I got a business coach. I invested in MYSELF. And then, within six months my business gained traction and I began to match my doctor’s income as a coach. Six months after that, I was exceeding it. In the few years of struggle followed by the year of major learning, mindset shifts, and rapid business growth, I learned a ton of things. These are things I wish I had known at the beginning.

TransforMD: Imagine you could travel back in time and give yourself an important piece of advice. What would it be, and when would have been the most important time in life to receive it?

Kim: I would tell myself to stop dabbling much sooner than I did. I would tell myself to go all in, and not to hesitate to invest in myself, and to get expert support and mentoring once I knew I was ready to truly make this a success. Physicians are conditioned to feel like we have to figure it all out ourselves, to tough it out and muddle through without asking for help, but that’s the long road to success. Finding the right mentor, getting help, hiring support ... these are the things that will shortcut your success.

TransforMD: How do you feel an event like TransforMD important to women physicians who are wanting some change but not sure what to do or how to do it?

Kim: Finding a like-minded community is another key piece of accelerating your growth and transformation, and it seems to me that the TransforMD conference would be an excellent place to find the kind of support and community that it can be so hard to find in most of our day-to-day lives!

You may learn more about Dr Kim Foster on her website, on Instagram @drkimfoster, and on Facebook @drkimfoster.