The disruptive physician is an emerging issue for all who are concerned about physician wellness, positive outcomes in patient care, and a healthy working environment for the healthcare team. Disruptive behavior of these physicians in group practice or on hospital staffs is well documented. The American Association of Physician Executives polled their membership and found that a small percentage of physicians in the practice groups were responsible for most of the disruptive physician behavior. Nurses were often the targets of these physicians’ rage or uncontrolled frustration.

The continuing medical education (CME) course for distressed physicians was developed at the Center for Professional Health (CPH) because of the belief that these physicians could be helped in an educational environment. The need to address this problem was confirmed by the experience of Dr. Roland Gray, Director of the Tennessee Physician Health Program, with disruptive physicians that were being referred to him on a daily basis from hospitals and practice groups in Tennessee.

Cases of disruptive behavior by physicians who are acting out their frustrations with variety of inappropriate behaviors are very complicated and time-consuming. These behaviors become so routine that nurses are afraid to work with them either on the wards or in the operating room.

The CPH at Vanderbilt organized the Program for Distressed Physicians in 2005 patterned on the format of the other CME courses that had proven successful for physicians in the CPH. They are described on the CPH web site: