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Wellness-Centered Leadership: Equipping Health Care Leaders to Cultivate Physician Well-Being and Professional Fulfillment.

  • Shanafelt, Tait1
  • Trockel, Mickey2
  • Rodriguez, Ashleigh3
  • Logan, Dave4
  • 1 T. Shanafelt is chief wellness officer, Jeanie and Stewart Ritchie Professor of Medicine, and associate dean, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, California; ORCID:
  • 2 M. Trockel is clinical associate professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
  • 3 A. Rodriguez is currently a consultant, CMA Wellness Services, California Medical Association, Sacramento, California. At the time of writing, she was a graduate student, USC Marshall School of Business, Los Angeles, California.
  • 4 D. Logan is chief executive officer, CMA Wellness Services, California Medical Association, Sacramento, and senior lecturer, Department of Management and Organization, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.
Published Article
Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
Publication Date
May 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003907
PMID: 33394666


These are challenging times for physicians. Extensive changes in the practice environment have altered the nature of physicians' interactions with patients and their role in the health care delivery system. Many physicians feel as if they are "cogs in the wheel" of austere corporations that care more about productivity and finances than compassion or quality. They often do not see how the strategy and plan of their organization align with the values of the profession. Despite their expertise, they frequently do not feel they have a voice or input in the operational plan of their work unit, department, or organization. At their core, the authors believe all of these factors represent leadership issues. Many models of leadership have been proposed, and there are a number of effective philosophies and approaches. Here, the authors propose a new integrative model of Wellness-Centered Leadership (WCL). WCL includes core skills and qualities from the foremost leadership philosophies along with evidence on the relationship between leadership and physician well-being and distills them into a single framework designed to cultivate leadership behaviors that promote engagement and professional fulfillment. The 3 elements of WCL are: care about people always, cultivate individual and team relationships, and inspire change. A summary of the mindset, behaviors, and outcomes of the elements of the WCL model is presented, and the application of the elements for physician leaders is discussed. The authors believe that learning and developing the skills that advance these elements should be the aspiration of all health care leaders and a foundational focus of leadership development programs. If cultivated, the authors believe that WCL will empower individual and team performance to address the current problems faced by health care organizations as well as the iterative innovation needed to address challenges that may arise in the decades to come. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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