Rude, competitive, cliquey: What to do about toxic behaviour in medicine

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  • Vera Scully says:

    When bullying is not called out FROM THE TOP it is condoned.
    That sends a powerful message and emboldens the bully. They become untouchable. Often, when “victims” report they can be punished for having the audacity to cause discomfort to the bully either by being ostracized by perpetrator or even peers, for example. There isn’t a safe way to bring these behaviors to an end without broad strokes. There is too much verbalese not enough action.
    Corporations have to be seen to have policies in place. They really aren’t equipped to implement. These policies are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Have real courage.
    As in the words of Toby Keith it’s time for “a little little less talk and a lot more action”.
    This is very important work.
    St Mike’s should be proud of what they stand for.
    Thank you both for desiring to root out this invasive pestilent.

  • Ron Mara says:

    I hope the discourse here remains professional and does not denigrate to finger pointing and name calling. Given the great work done by the authors in highlighting respect & civility, that would be ironical and tragic.

    I would agree that political correctness should not prevent us from calling out facts when we see them. However, it always saddens me when people think it is OK to post insensitive comments which perpetuate stereotypes. As is the case with people of all races, my experience has been that there are good apples and bad apples – and it is not fair to brand an entire population segment as being “the worst offenders when it comes to abusive behaviour.”

    Time for some self reflection, maybe? Time for all of us to stop thinking in terms of “us” vs “them”?

  • Dolores McKeen says:

    Excellent report. What we don’t call out.. we condone. No ambiguity.. It needs to be black & white. Behaviour acceptable or not. Processes & code of conduct to help admin & leadership address. Keep talking. It is NOT okay to behave/ talk etc this way.

  • Cathy Whiteside says:

    Thank you for this very important work promoting professionalism. Congratulations!

  • Ron Mara says:

    Thank you for raising this issue. Hopefully conversations and healthy debates will improve the situation.
    I feel that every organization should assess: “are we better off in the long-run to remove ‘rock stars’ with bad attitude?” If the answer is that some people are demi-gods and hence too precious to offend – then please do not be hypocrites – let the rest of the organization know that is management’s philosophy and everyone else better learn to accommodate. Or else.

    If, on the other hand, the organization believes in the principles you have laid out above, then leaders at the helm (CEO, head of HR etc.) should consciously find out the physicians and other leaders who are uncivil, rude and unprofessional at the workplace. Once they are identified – examples must be made that there is zero tolerance for such people, no matter their professional skills or ability to attract research & donors. If the organization has the courage to make the bold moves at the top, the message will percolate down and people will treat others with respect.

    Last thought – the treatment for cancer is not coaching the rogue cells and hoping they change their ways – you have to get rid of the cancer cells. Similarly, uncivil and rude people will not change their DNA – to improve the culture the organization has to initiate the parting of ways.

    • Tammy Tallon says:

      Well said Ron, however, I believe that the CPSO must also play a role in improving the culture. My experience in being harassed by a physician, is that while the hospital recognized the behaviours, the financial impact to the organization to initiate a parting of ways led to an attempt to “coach” the offender. This of course was ineffective and when the CPSO was contacted for assistance, their only assistance was to offer to “coach” the offender, but only if the physician was receptive……guess how that was received lol

  • France Légaré says:

    Congratulations for this important work


Sharon Straus


Sharon Straus is a geriatrician and Physician in Chief, St. Michael’s Hospital-Unity Health Toronto.

Reena Pattani


Reena Pattani is a clinician teacher in general internal medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital and assistant professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto.

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