Cultural Revolution in Emergency Medicine: Introduction to Employee Satisfaction by Steve Sherick, MD, CEO

Company Culture within Emergency Departments | Innova Emergency Medical Associates

Cultural Revolution in Emergency Medicine: Introduction to Employee Satisfaction


Culture. The word that defines the “je ne sais quoi” of your organization. It’s part of “the whys and the hows” your operation. It how your employees feel about the organization, and how the organization feels about its employees. It can be fleeting, consistent, easy to degrade or hard to change.

It is baked into the framework of your organization on the first day you sign the legal paperwork to establish your group. How are employees paid? What benefits do you offer? What’s the schedule like? Do you offer maternity and paternity leave? Who owns the company? What happens when someone misses his or her shift? How often do you pay? The questions are literally endless…

Finding and Defining Your Department’s Culture

These innumerable questions go through your mind when founding a group, and for me, it came down to looking at the landscape and knowing that something was missing in the current environs of emergency medicine. That missing component was sustainability; related to ownership, management, scheduling, benefits and the full life cycle of emergency medicine groups, all of which contributed to, but was not the only component of, that very culture.   

Aligning with the new world of Emergency Medicine

In this multi-part series, we’ll discuss what it takes to flourish in the new world of emergency medicine and to foster a new life-altering group culture. The life of the physician and allied health provider is more different now than it used to be, folks are striking a remarkably better work-life balance and the culture of your group needs to, and should damn well, reflect that. The old days of working 20+ days a month for 30 years then retiring are long gone, and good riddance to them. The dinosaurs in our field that think that they can run their employees into the ground and build a good culture at the same time are kidding themselves. A doc can choose to work 20 days a month for a couple of years to pay off debt, but building a group culture around sustainability is much more fruitful.

From this change, and with the innate desire that we have as members of the emergency medicine community, comes a new revolution in our field. This revolution will be cultural and related indirectly to patient care, but more to the quality of life our providers get to live. That life, in and out of the department, is what defines whether you enjoy coming to work, seeing that extra patient and whether you want to come back tomorrow. We need to give credence to that motivation and build it into how we work.

We’ll discuss more about this in future posts, but to start, let’s consider the key questions of the day-to-day culture of your organization.  

  • Do folks enjoy coming to work?
  • Do they help each other sign out at the end of their shift?
  • Do the nurses enjoy working with the providers?
  • Do the providers know the name of your support staff?
  • Do the providers get their charts done on time?

These are downstream signals about the fundamentals of your culture as a group. Think about some of these signals in your department, and let’s take the subject back up in my next post about optimizing employee satisfaction with benefits and workplace culture.