Beat Down Burnout

There Are No Dysfunctional Physicians

Have you worked with a dysfunctional physician? You know, the one who is angry all the time. The one who rips the phone off the wall and throws it at someone. The one who throws books and raises his voice. The one who throws hot coffee on someone because his day didn’t go well. We’ve all heard the stories. Some of us have even seen it happen. What if I told you that there are no dysfunctional physicians? Some say they are victims of our training system. I won’t say that’s wrong, yet it isn’t the whole story. Some say it’s the current healthcare environment. I’ve been seeing this behavior for over 20 years, and it isn’t getting better or worse, while our processes have changed quite a bit. What if I told you, these are stressed people, and we are not taking good care of them? We are caretakers of our fellow humans, our colleagues.


Let’s walk down the path of how these scenarios develop. Most of us go into training eager to help others. Some of us start out with people skills. Those people skills are not well-honed or nurtured during training. Yet, that isn’t enough to explain the behavior I described. In training, we still go out and socialize with our peers. We still have a social life, at least at the beginning, and follow social norms. The above behavior does not meet social norms. So, how does it come to be?


It starts because hurt people hurt people. The training process, whether for physicians or nurses, is traumatic. You don’t come out unscathed. I can’t speak personally to Nursing School, but nearly every Medical Student who starts out married is divorced by graduation. That’s a huge price to pay. We are systematically cut off from popular culture of same aged peers. We are horribly, horribly sleep-deprived, and eating food that does not meet our dietary needs. After years of this, they can be on edge-all the time. That’s still not enough to account for the above behavior. This is just the setup.


The real problem starts when you put place someone in an environment where their personality conflicts with the personality codes, or types, of those around them. I practice personality science using the B.A.N.K. system of personality science. What I’ve learned is that most of the time we are unhappy in life, we are experiencing someone else forcing their personality code on us. If you don’t know your personality code, you can go to and get yours now. I anticipate this video will make more sense if you do.


The personality codes Action and Nurturing tend to be more in touch with their emotions and are felt to have better people skills. They’re good communicators by nature. The people with Blueprint and Knowledge are more analytical and colder in their interactions. They view other personality types as dramatic and pull away from such frivolities.


When someone with a Blueprint or Knowledge personality is expected to work in an environment with a lot of Nurturing people, they are expected to mimic their surroundings. They often lack the processing ability to do so. When they fail, they are shunned, or worse. They are told they are a horrible person. They get low satisfaction scores. They are told they are in the wrong profession. These are predictable responses from someone who doesn’t understand the personality science behind this. To make matters worse, it is often handled with poor emotional intelligence.


Severe cases have resulted in manufactured charges against physicians. Even when not that severe, if allowed to go on for any length of time, this will wear down on the emotional intelligence of the victim. This results in the person we often point to as the dysfunctional physician. Where were we when this process started? Why weren’t we protecting him or her at that time? The answer to that is simple. Bystanders quickly become secondary victims if they try to help. This is what it has meant to be in healthcare for the past 30 years. We must free ourselves from this vicious cycle. We must stop the bullying that is leading to burnout. It starts with knowing your personality code, then knowing the code of those around you.


If you know someone who has been tagged as a dysfunctional physician, then reach out to us at

Nanette Nuessle