Dealing with Difficult Colleagues

Course Description

The 2011 general seminar for physicians and office staff will address the risk issues inherent in an environment where the unprofessional behavior of difficult team members is left unchecked. The good news is such behavior can be identified and appropriately addressed.

Unprofessional behaviors such as verbal abuse, criticizing colleagues and refusing to follow policies have a significant negative impact on relationships, communication and patient outcomes. In an environment in which members of the healthcare team take out stress on those around them, a culture of disharmony ensues. This creates a powerful ripple effect on the patient care team; raising the risk for burnout, system inefficiencies, suboptimal patient care, medical errors and costly litigation.

While frequently discussed in the context of physicians, unprofessional behavior also occurs among the clinical and office staff, often leading to horizontal hostility. Horizontal hostility occurs when a team member takes out his or her frustrations on co-workers or even a patient, as a result of a physician or supervisor’s demeaning behavior.

This seminar will provide physicians and staff alike with the tools and responses needed to recognize and address unprofessional behavior. This program will use video vignettes to illustrate these issues and will include physician to physician, physician to administration, physician to staff, staff to staff and staff to patient scenarios.


Upon completion of this seminar, attendees will be able to:

  1. Understand how unprofessional behavior impacts the healthcare team and increases the risk for patient safety issues;
  2. Identify strategies for addressing horizontal hostility;
  3. Articulate a range of responses for confronting unprofessional behaviors; and
  4. Identify communication techniques that promote healthy care teams.


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