How to Create a Resilient Physician Culture

Posted on April 8, 2015 by Dawn Ellison, MD, CPC

Updated January 19, 2022

Improving physician relationships and engagement has a positive impact on patient care.

Team Of Doctors Examining Reports

As physicians and providers, our relationships with our colleagues can clearly affect patient safety. If we are not approachable, we may never find out about potential errors leading to bad patient outcomes. Evidence suggests our peer relationships also affect workforce morale and turnover, patient functional health outcomes, mortality and length of stay. An engaged, conscientious group of colleagues who are mindful of caring for each other, as well as their patients, is a sustainable model for the future of healthcare.

Healthcare organizations need to pay attention to the importance of relationships, not just mission and vision. Relationships are built on trust. Covey writes about the "Speed of Trust" because with trust, constructive conflict, commitment, accountability and positive results can be a reality. Trust is earned through demonstrating transparent, respectful, behavior. Have you heard individuals who are providing patient care complain because they feel their concerns are not heard by administration? How about people in administrative positions concerned because they can't get the caretakers involved in decision making? This is the irony of many hierarchical organizations. Without meaningful engagement, there is a void of trust.

By creating opportunities for meaningful conversations amongst diverse sets of people involved in patient care – whether in an organization, family or community – it is possible to improve relationships while engaging in the tough work of improving patient care. The easy solutions that can be solved at an individual level are diminishing as we embark on this journey into a more complex world of medical homes and accountable health communities. The tools of engagement are evolving as well. Robert’s Rules of Order are too restrictive for the innovation required for the future. We need to use participative tools to encourage contribution by all voices in the room, so we make wiser decisions to move us forward.

We can be better together, and we can be together better!

We Can Help

There are many techniques for improving physician relationships and engagement. VITAL WorkLife can help with peer coaching or counseling to get you moving toward better relational well being!

Call us to learn more or to schedule an appointment. We’re available anytime, day or night.

About VITAL WorkLife

VITAL WorkLife, Inc.™ is a national behavioral health consulting company providing support to individuals facing life’s challenges, while also assisting organizations in improving workplace productivity. We have deep experience in healthcare, helping physicians and providers with their unique needs. This approach of helping the staff member and their families, while also guiding organizations, builds healthy, sustainable behaviors. Visit us at

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