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Instituting a Culture of Professionalism: The Establishment of a Center for Professionalism and Peer Support

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Background: There is growing recognition that an environment in which professionalism is not embraced, or where expectations of acceptable behaviors are not clear and enforced, can result in medical errors, adverse events, and unsafe work conditions.

Methods: The Center for Professionalism and Peer Support (CPPS) was created in 2008 at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), Boston, to educate the hospital community regarding professionalism and manage unprofessional behavior. CPPS includes the professionalism initiative, a disclosure and apology process, peer and defendant support programs, and wellness programs. Leadership support, establishing behavioral expectations and assessments, emphasizing communication engagement and skills training, and creating a process for intake of professionalism concerns were all critical in developing and implementing an effective professionalism program. The process for assessing and responding to concerns includes management of professionalism concerns, an assessment process, and remediation and monitoring.

Results: Since 2005, thousands of physicians, scientists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants have been trained in educational programs to support the identification, prevention, and management of unprofessional behavior. For January 1, 2010, through June 30, 2013, concerns were raised regarding 201 physicians/scientists and 8 health care teams.

Conclusions: The results suggest that mandatory education sessions on professional development are successful in engaging physicians and scientists in discussing and participating in an enhanced professionalism culture, and that the processes for responding to professionalism concerns have been able to address, and most often alter, repetitive unprofessional behavior in a substantive and beneficial manner.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2014

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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