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Organisational strategies to cultivate professional values and behaviours
  1. Amy T Cunningham1,
  2. Elizabeth C Bernabeo2,
  3. Daniel B Wolfson3,
  4. Cara S Lesser4
  1. 1Program Administrator/Analyst, ABIM Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Research Associate, Quality Research, American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, ABIM Foundation Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Washington, DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to Ms Amy T Cunningham, ABIM Foundation, 510 Walnut Street, Suite 1700, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA; acunningham{at}


Background In recent years, there has been increased focus on the importance of professionalism among medical students, residents and practising physicians, as well as the interaction between individual behaviours and the practice environment.

Methods Recognising the need to better understand how organisations advance professional behaviours, the authors undertook an exploratory, qualitative study. This study consisted of screening interviews with 30 organisations. Staff and an expert advisory committee developed criteria to select 10 organisations for further study. The authors then conducted in-depth interviews with two leaders from each of the 10 organisations.

Results and discussion Qualitative analysis revealed several key findings, including diversity in the language that organisations used regarding professionalism, and the professional behaviours that they chose to promote. Despite this diversity, all organisations shared a common strategy of clearly articulating their values and reinforcing these values. This reinforcement occurred through the provision of aligned organisational systems and structures, and the cultivation of strong interpersonal relationships. To better illustrate these findings, the authors provide several examples that demonstrate how organisational leaders use values to cultivate professional behaviour in their organisations.

  • Leadership
  • medical professionalism
  • organisational culture
  • relationship-centred care
  • culture
  • healthcare quality

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the New England Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.