“Physician, HEEL Thyself” Tells a Sad Tale of Physicians and Nurses

by Francine Gaillour, MD

in Aligning With Values & Purpose,Transformational Leadership

My eye caught what I thought was a typo in the New York Times last week: HEEL…. instead of HEAL…

“Physician, Heel Thyself” is a biting story by Theresa Brown, a nurse and NYT blogger, about her experience getting verbally clubbed by a physician.  Ouch…. I felt embarrassed for my profession.  It is shocking to hear this still happens in hospitals.

Over the past year I’ve been in over a dozen hospitals and while most places demonstrated collegial behavior, I have to admit some physicians are just unprofessional when it comes to communicating.   As long as their colleagues give them wide latitude and nurses or other victims of verbal nastiness decide to withdraw rather then report, the behavior will go on.

As a coach, I’m optimistic that The Joint Commission’s standard to create physician health programs and identify difficult  physicians will catalyze the creation of formal programs.  Some of these physicians benefit from coaching alone, while others are clearly a case of mental pathology requiring psychiatric intervention or treatment for substance abuse.

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