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Supporting the pursuit of professionalism during a crisis


Background Crisis plans for healthcare organisations most often focus on operational needs including staffing, supplies and physical plant needs. Less attention is focused on how leaders can support and encourage individual clinical team members to conduct themselves as professionals during a crisis.

Methods This qualitative study analysed observations from 79 leaders at 160 hospitals that participate in two national professionalism programmes who shared their observations in focus group discussions about what they believed were the essential elements of leading and addressing professional accountability during a crisis.

Results Analysis of focus group responses identified six leadership practices adopted by healthcare organisations, which were felt to be essential for organisations to navigate the crisis successfully. Unique aspects of maintaining professionalism during each phase of the pandemic were identified and described.

Conclusions Leaders need a plan to support an organiation’s pursuit of professionalism during a crisis. Leaders participating in this study identified practices that should be carefully woven into efforts to support the ongoing safety and quality of the care delivered by healthcare organisations before, during and after a crisis. The lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic may be useful during subsequent crises and challenges that a healthcare organisation might experience.

  • communication
  • continuous improvement
  • behaviour
  • COVID-19
  • professionalism

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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