#41: Organizational Psychology in Medicine with Gregory Guldner, MD

Our guest, Dr. Greg Guldner discusses the successful implementation of positive and organizational psychology into medical culture. Two key theories used at his facility were: Job-Demands Resources and Self Determination Theory. 

Some episode highlights:

  • The biggest variable is job demands. This explains why mindfulness and resiliency training have largely failed for medical workplace burnout.
  • Self-Determination Theory identifies 3 main psychological needs:
    • Autonomy
      • Of the 3, this may be the most important, so autonomy supportive leadership is key
      • What your doing aligns with your values
    • Belonging
    • Competence
  • Workplaces can either thwart or support these needs.
  • A culture of wellness is: "shared beliefs, shared values, and shared social practices that are so ingrained nobody questions them anymore."
  • Another component is meaning.
    • Be deliberate
    • Pay attention - you'll miss it otherwise
  • And lastly, psychological capital: self efficacy, hope, resilience, and optimism.
  • Autonomy supporting leadership includes:
    • Flexibility - recognizing when there are options, allowing for choice, and not directing when able
    • Nudging - encouraging further thought and reassessment rather than directing
    • Transparency in decision-making and showing how it aligns with values
  • What Went Well
    • A useful practice to deliberately point out competence and the prosocial meaning of what happened.
    • Use active positive responding
    • Bolters belonging
    • Promotes psychological capital
  • "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
  • The stigma of help-seeking behaviors is something organizations need to improve. 
    • "The most distressed people won't ask for help."
    • Consider opt-out rather than opt-in



 Dr. Guldner's RECOMMENDED RESOURCES to get started at your institution.

Marty Seligman, PhD

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyui, PhD's book: Flow

Bakker and Demerouti's Job Demands-Resources Theory

Ryan and Deci's Self Determination Theory



Claremont Graduate University

Simons and Chabris: Gorilla In The Background (Selective Attention Test)

Dr. Guldner's team will be presenting at the 8th International Conference on Self Determination Theory in Orlando May 31-June 3, 2023. They’ll be presenting their research along with Adam Neufeld and others in a symposium on SDT in physician wellness.  The link is here if you are interested in attending.


If you want to work with us, visit our website: We have private coaching and CME courses available. Additionally, we're happy to lecture for your institution. Sign up for our Weekly Well Check by clicking the link. The Weekly Well Check is your weekly dose of encouragement and your only access to secret insider sales on our products.

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*DISCLAIMER: This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.