The administration's healthcare reform act of 2010 brings changes that are targeted to increase the quality of care, cut rising healthcare costs, and improve the health of the population, but the principle objectives of the law can only be met with the active involvement of physicians. However, leading in multidisciplinary healthcare organizations is difficult and physicians prepared for leadership are in short supply. Addressing this shortage first requires an understanding of the leadership practices of physicians in order to develop an effective leadership development program. To this end, the primary purpose of this study is to explore the practices of physician leaders. This study used the qualitative phenomenological method to examine the experiences of physicians in their lives as leaders. The theoretical framework used to guide the research was the five practices of exemplary leaders (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Interviews were conducted with 8 participants and the data were coded and analyzed using HyperRESEARCH, a qualitative coding software package. The validity and reliability of the study were enhanced by presenting an in-depth, vivid analysis of the data, by conducting a peer review and by clarifying the researcher's bias at the outset of the study. The study found that all 5 of the practices in Kouzes and Posner's (2012) theoretical framework were present in physician leaders to varying degrees. Overall, the expressions which represented the practices of "enable others to act," "inspire a shared vision," and "challenge the process," were counted more often than "model the way" and "encourage the heart." The study recommends that instructional designers develop a systematic curriculum with advanced leadership concepts. Additional recommendations include executive coaching and change leadership training. Recommendations for future research include increasing the number of participants, replicating the study using a different theoretical framework, including more physicians from small practices, expanding the study to collect demographics of the participants, and using a quantitative method or mixed method to enhance the transferability of the study results.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Leadership; Physician executives; Executive coaching; Executives -- Training of

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Stephens, Ronald;