Impact of Coaching on the Nurse-Physician Dynamic

AACN Adv Crit Care. 2018 Fall;29(3):259-267. doi: 10.4037/aacnacc2018624.


Background: Limited resources and increased patient care demands have strained nurse-physician relationships in our hospital's neurosurgical intensive care unit, leading to low morale and adversarial dynamics. Studies exploring benefits of coaching interprofessional teamwork demonstrate performance improvements. Therefore, a coaching program designed to improve nurse-physician teamwork was initiated by the neurosurgery department of the hospital's affiliated university.

Objective: To assess the impact of a coaching program for nurses and physicians on workplace performance in a neurosurgical intensive care unit at a level 1 trauma center.

Methods: A coach was incorporated into everyday activities on the neurosurgical unit. After 3 months of observations, specific interdisciplinary initiatives were implemented to foster a more positive workplace environment. Nurses' perceptions before and after the initiatives were measured and compared using appropriate statistical tools.

Results: A significant improvement in relationships was found in 6 of 7 targeted categories after the program had been in place for 5 months. The results were sustained at 1 year.

Conclusion: A coaching program is an effective method of improving nurse-physician relationships, leading to enhanced workplace performance.

Keywords: coaching; communication; leadership; nursephysician relations; residency; teamwork; workplace culture.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring / methods*
  • Mentors / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / education*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Physician-Nurse Relations*
  • Workplace / psychology*