The Charter on Professionalism for Health Care Organizations



    Professionalism charter sets patient care, workforce & population health principles for health care orgs


The Charter on Professionalism for Health Care Organizations establishes principles for delivering effective patient care, maintaining a healthy workforce, and improving population health. The charter was drafted by a committee of experts from different disciplines and with varying points of view and was funded by The Commonwealth Fund, American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, Federation of American Hospitals, and American Hospital Association.

Charter Domains and Principles

The charter includes four domains:

  • Patient partnerships. Organizations should strive to care for the whole person, and not just treat diseases. This requires engaging patients and their families in care and decision-making and using patient-generated data to monitor performance.
  • Organizational culture. The organizational culture should emphasize maintaining the well-being of patients and employees, committing to teamwork and diversity, and eliminating medical error through increased accountability.
  • Community partnerships. People’s health is more than the sum of services received and the luck of genetics: it is also largely influenced by social and environmental factors. Health care organizations therefore must address such factors as unhealthy behaviors and environmental toxins and engage with organizations and leaders to invest in community health.
  • Operations and business practices. Health care organizations should develop a mission statement, which might feature: a commitment to fair treatment of employees, including the provision of training and growth opportunities; innovation in patient care and management; and ethical operations that encourage reporting of violations without fear of reprisal.


The professionalism charter is intended to be aspirational—the behavior of a “model organization”—and may present certain obstacles, like the challenges of creating a more open dialogue or altering social determinants of health.

Publication Details

Publication Date: January 27, 2017
Authors: Barry E. Egener, Diana J. Mason, Walter J. McDonald, Sally Okun, Meg E. Gaines, David A. Fleming, Bernie M. Rosof, David Gullen, and May-Lynn Andresen
Contact: Mary Mahon, Vice President, Public Information, The Commonwealth Fund
Summary Writer: Deborah Lorber
B. E. Egener, D. J. Mason, W. J. McDonald et al., “The Charter on Professionalism for Health Care Organizations,” Academic Medicine, published online Jan. 10, 2017.
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