Attitudes Towards Physicians Requiring Remediation: One-of-Us or Not-Like-Us?

Gisele Bourgeois-Law*, Pim W. Teunissen, Lara Varpio, Glenn Regehr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review



The data for this paper were collected as part of a larger project exploring how the medical profession conceptualizes the task of supporting physicians struggling with clinical competency issues. In this paper, the authors focus on a topic that has been absent in the literature thus far-how physicians requiring remediation are perceived by those responsible for organizing remediation and by their peers in general.


Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, the authors conducted semistructured interviews with 17 remediation stakeholders across Canada. Given that in Canada health is a provincial responsibility, the authors purposively sampled stakeholders from across provincial and language borders and across the full range of organizations that could be considered as participating in the remediation of practicing physicians.


Interviewees expressed mixed, sometimes contradictory, emotions toward and perceptions of physicians requiring remediation. They also noted that their colleagues, including physicians in training, were not always sympathetic to their struggling peers.


The medical profession's attitude toward those who struggle with clinical competency-as individuals and as a whole-is ambivalent at best. This ambivalence grows out of psychological and cultural factors and may be an undiscussed factor in the profession's struggle to deal adequately with underperforming members. To contend with the challenge of remediating practicing physicians, the profession needs to address this ambivalence and its underlying causes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S36-S41
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number11S
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019



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