How can medical practices create and sustain healthy cultures at a time of rapid and often stressful change? The answer, according to family physician David Loxterkamp, MD, lies in human connection. Based on the book "Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging," by Sebastian Junger, Loxterkamp suggests that both medical professionals and their patients need to feel useful and connected. For physicians, however, a feeling of connection is increasingly hard to find, as medical practice focuses more on productivity and guidelines and less on relationships. By adopting such values as connection, egalitarianism, and loyalty, practices could strengthen their cultures in creative ways including viewing the practice (rather than teams or individuals) as the unit of care, encouraging employees to apply their ingenuity and problem-solving skills, and sharing both sacrifice and decision making. Loxterkamp calls on medical professionals to demand the kind of practice community that patients long for: one characterized by deeper connection and sense of purpose.
Caring for the Tribe: From Addiction to Zen
David Loxterkamp, MD
Seaport Community Health Center, Belfast, Maine