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Values are important.  The further one goes in their career – the higher one rises in an organization – the more important their values (should) become. 

Executives make decisions every day.  Their values are in play at every turn, whether they consciously think about it or not.

Personally, I believe we should think about them a lot more.  There is certainly evidence that a lot of people who are leading organizations, taking care of patients and those who support them, are working in a profound state of values disconnect.

We all want to say that we have great values.  We all probably think that people with uncertain or questionable values would never want to work in healthcare to begin with.  After all, we are about helping people and taking care of patients,  that is why we got into the business, right?

One would hope, but there are too many telltale signs that suggest that our focus on values is not as strong as it once was.

The problem is, as I see it, that we have let a lot of other stuff get in our way – physicians chasing the dollar, workers towing the union line rather than the patient’s first line, hospital CEOs focusing on their incomes and bonuses more than the benefit they provide to the communities they serve, or some corporations which play fast and loose  with quality of patient care and safety in order to make the big investors on Wall Street happy.  Believe me, everyone who cuts corners has an amazingly plausible excuse for ignoring their values – a pile of medical school debt, children to educate, a boat to buy or a house to pay for,  fear of losing a job…the list is so, so long.

This is not a healthcare problem.  It is an American way of life problem.