“He’s a good doctor, but……”

Those words are often a precursor describing most of my physician clients that are labeled “disruptive”. Ranging from egregious outbursts to generalized unpleasant demeanors, disruptive behavior can be targeted at administrators, peers, coworkers, residents, and, in extreme cases, patients.   The etiology for these behaviors is as varied as the physicians that are label “disruptive” with behaviors, in some cases, lasting the career lifetime of a physician.  While the reasons for this behavior may vary, the most compelling motivation to address this behavior is that disruptive physician behavior directly affects outcomes for their organizations, their peers and the patients they care for.

Documented by the Joint Commission, the Institute of Health and the American Medical Association, disruptive physician behavior has a direct link to financial, quality, safety and engagement outcomes of staff and patients. While this behavior has been tolerated in the past, the new age of social media, star ratings, and a variety of website reporting systems utilized by coworkers and residents have given an unprecedented voice to those that are affected. While healthcare organizations have a code of conduct and a definition and process for working with disruptive behavior, very few know how to actively create shifts with physicians that are sustainable.

Physician Coaching is the single most powerful means to assist physicians with adverse behaviors and reputations.  As a former healthcare administrator, I have witnessed the efforts of well-meaning administrations attempting to correct the specific behavior that needs to change without sustainable results. Consider the metaphor of water borne illness: to treat the illness (in this case, the disruptive behavior) without treating the water (the thinking habits that triggered the behavior) is a rather futile endeavor.

When I coach a physician, I focus on the unique triggers and thinking patterns that result in the unwanted behavior. The physicians, once they recognize thinking patterns that no longer serve them, develop new patterns of interpreting data. In short, they choose how they feel about a situation, thus leading to more preferred response. For many physicians, coaching is used initially for this behavior, but it uncovers more opportunities for an increased engagement with their organizations and their work. They become more equipped to deal with the inevitable stressors and changes happening around them and feel more in control of their environments and themselves. Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of physicians that I coach for disruptive behavior significantly mitigate the behavior early during the course of coaching,  but want to continue the to increase their capacity and engagement.   

They may come to coaching to make some shifts, but many leave with a renewed sense of purpose and passion. They are worth the investment.

For more information about Diane’s Physician Coaching services, please contact her today.