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Team development among physician-leaders at the Cleveland Clinic

Tracy H. Porter (Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
James K. Stoller (Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
Scott J. Allen (Department of Management, Marketing, and Supply Chain, John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio, USA)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 20 April 2018

Issue publication date: 17 May 2018




Since 1990, the Cleveland Clinic has trained physicians in team skills through various iterations of a program called Leading in Healthcare (LHC). In the present study, the authors utilize a case study approach to gain insight into the LHC curriculum, and more specifically, the team project. The purpose of this paper is to better understand the Cleveland Clinic’s position on the issue and its approach to education – specifically among physicians.


The authors utilized a case study approach with four key program architects.


The results of this exploratory research yielded three themes: There is a lack of formal physician education in teamwork, there is a growing trend of inter-disciplinary teams and the team project was an important component of teambuilding in LHC.

Research limitations/implications

A breakdown in team function adversely impacts patient care. While formal and informal participation in teams is imbedded in the role, physicians are rarely trained in leadership or teambuilding in their formal medical education – much of it is learned on the job in hidden curricula. In addition to the adverse effects of dysfunctional teams on patient care, the authors have explored another area that will be affected by a lack of education – the team experience at the administrative level. As more and more physicians take on leadership roles in healthcare, there is an additional need to build competencies around teams (e.g. team theory, cross-functional team participation and leading teams) from an administrative perspective.


This is one of only a few studies which have specifically examined the impact of a teamwork education for physicians.



Porter, T.H., Stoller, J.K. and Allen, S.J. (2018), "Team development among physician-leaders at the Cleveland Clinic", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 210-225.



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