A Better Strategy for Dealing with Bad Physicians

Lena J. Weiner, April 7, 2014

While HR handles most personnel issues in hospitals, the use of professionalism committees is on the rise. Staffed by physicians, they confront peers who are exhibiting disruptive behavior and they provide counseling.

As a human resources professional, have you ever felt like there's a cultural gap between your team and the clinicians employed by your organization? Perhaps you've felt you're not the right person to speak directly with a physician known for being nasty or with the too-casual resident who fails to respond to pages?

If so, you're not alone. The sentiment that the cultural chasm between HR and physicians might be a bit too hard to cross is becoming increasingly recognized and understood by both parties.

"There are some things human resources are good at, but, regarding professionalism, I think a peer-to-peer, physician-to-physician conversation is what's needed. It's complicated to talk to a physician about unprofessional behavior," says Daniel Wolfson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, an organization with a dedicated mission to spread professionalism among medical staff. 

While HR handles most personnel issues in hospitals, a small-yet-growing number of organizations have been developing professionalism committees. These are groups outside of human resources that confront physicians who are exhibiting disruptive behavior, provide counseling, and follow up on the issue to ensure things have been remedied. Members of these committees are often physicians.

Lena J. Weiner

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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