Instituting a culture of professionalism: the establishment of a center for professionalism and peer support

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2014 Apr;40(4):168-77. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(14)40022-9.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Peer Group*
  • Personnel, Hospital*
  • Professional Role*