Kent Neff, MD, FAPA, Expert on Managing Disruptive Behavior

Dr. Neff has 30 years of experience working with hospitals, health systems, medical groups, professional associations, state physician health programs, and professional licensing boards regarding physician health and wellness. He specializes in successfully resolving disruptive behavior among clinicians. Areas of emphasis include patient safety, transforming organizational culture, effective team communication, group facilitation, mediation, and conflict resolution. Dr. Neff is a noted lecturer and workshop leader throughout North America. He frequently conducts widely-acclaimed seminars on influencing physician behavior, establishing respectful workplaces, and managing change. His work rests on a solid foundation as a psychiatrist and multiple leadership positions designing and implementing physician assistance committees, professional assessment programs, and serving as the Chief of Psychiatry at a large metropolitan medical center.


  • Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, B.A. (Economics) 1961

  • University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, MD, 1965

  • Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon, Intern (Rotating), 1965-66

  • OHSU Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Resident, 1968-69

  • OHSU Department of Psychiatry, Resident,1969-72

  • Boston University, Certificate in Health Care Mediation & Conflict Resolution, 1994

Academic Appointments/ Fellowships

  • Oregon Health Sciences University, Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry

  • Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital, Visiting Professor, 1987

  • American Psychiatric Association, Distinguished Life Fellow

Medical Licensure

  • Oregon, Washington

  • Tanzania (1967-68)

Current Work

Private consulting practice primarily in health care, working with hospitals/health systems, medical groups, professional associations, state physician health programs, and professional licensing boards regarding physician health & wellness, problematic/ disruptive behavior, patient safety & development of a Culture of Safety, effective team communication, group facilitation, mediation and conflict resolution.  Perform organizational evaluations of departments experiencing problems.  Give frequent lectures, seminars, retreats, and workshops throughout the United States and Canada on topics such as managing disruptive behavior in physicians, influencing physician behavior, physician/ professional health & wellness, establishing a respectful workplace, patient safety, healthy workplaces, managing change.

Health Care and Industry Consultant, 1972-present

Consulted nationally to health care organizations and industry.  Served as the consultant and leader in conceptualizing, developing, and opening three additional psychiatric/ mental health programs in general hospitals (Salem, OR; Vancouver, WA; Helena, MT).  Assist health systems, hospitals, medical associations, licensing boards, and industry develop new programs or restructure existing ones.  Frequently work with hospitals and physician groups in consultations, departmental evaluations, strategic planning, solving problems, group facilitation, mediating disputes, improving medical staff- administration relationships, etc.  Lead retreats & give presentations & seminars.

Director, Professional Assessment Program, Abbott Northwestern 
Hospital, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1994-2000

Reorganized and directed a comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment program for physicians and other professionals with disruptive behavior, or behavioral or other problems. Physicians, other professionals, and executives were assessed in a week-long intensive program which received referrals from throughout the U.S and Canada.

Founder and CEO, Springbrook Institute, Inc., 1986-91

Conceptualized, raised $3.5 million in private capital, and founded this addiction treatment center focusing on physicians, other professionals, and executives.  Served as President and Chairman of the Board for this entrepreneurial venture during its early years.

Chairman, Oregon Medical Assn. Physicians Assistance Committee, 1980-86 Director, Oregon Medical Assn. Monitored Treatment Program, 1982-86

Under the auspices of the Oregon Medical Association (OMA), conceptualized, developed, and managed the statewide program for troubled and impaired physicians.  This included identification of these physicians, intervention, referral to treatment, managing the rehabilitation process, and extensive education of physicians and others throughout the state.  This was done on a voluntary basis.

Conceptualized and developed the formal Monitored Treatment Program and managed this under contract with the OMA.  The MTP improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the rehabilitation process for Oregon physicians and dentists in the early years of recovery.  This program served as a model for several other states.

Director, Mental Health Services and Chief of Psychiatry,

St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, 1979-82

Providence Hospital, Portland, Oregon, 1972-78

Conceptualized, developed, and managed a new system of services in these large community tertiary teaching hospitals.  Had full administrative responsibility for all aspects of the department: budget, hiring, annual reviews, personnel, policies & procedures, etc.. This included programs to meet a wide range of needs, including consultation/ liaison services for medical & surgical patients as well as inpatient  and outpatient services for psychiatric patients.  Developed and supervised a training program and two-month psychiatry rotation for internal medicine residents.  Served on the hospital board, numerous hospital committees and task forces. Provided ongoing consultation to the Medical Staff and administration across this large health system on problems involving physician behavior, program development, interdepartmental communication, teamwork, and mediation/ conflict resolution.

Medical Officer, U. S. Public Health Service/ Peace Corps,1966-68, 1970

  • Practiced general medicine and supervised medical team and public health workers in Africa (Tanzania, Niger) and Korea for 2 ½ years.


Selected Presentations, Publications, Awards

  • Hazelden Springbrook C.A.R.E. Award  (2010)

  • Voluntary Hospitals of America (VHA) national webcast on understanding and managing physician disruptive behavior in hospitals.  (2006)

  • Understanding and Managing Disruptive Behavior in Physicians, Chapter 4 in Enhancing Physician Behavior: Advanced Principles of Medical Management, American College of Physician Executives, 2000.

  • How (and Why) to Manage Disruptive Doctors, The Medical Economics Audio Digest, Volume 2, Issue 6, June, 1999.

  • Two Hundred Physicians Referred for Disruptive Behavior: Findings and Implications for Reducing Errors in Health Care, in Enhancing Patient Safety and Reducing Errors in Health Care (Proceedings of the National Patient Safety Conference at Annenberg, California, November, 1998.

  • “Searching for a New Paradigm in Health Care Delivery,” Neff, Kent E. and

  • Moser, Dennis R., in Physician Executive, March/ April 1993.

  • Ecumenical Service Award, Oregon Ecumenical Ministries, 1990.

  • Distinguished Service Award, Multnomah County Medical Society, (for work with physicians), 1985

  • Presidential Citation, Oregon Medical Assoc. (for work with physicians), 1984

Numerous consultations, seminars & presentations throughout the U.S. and Canada, including:

  • Administrators in Medicine

  • Ohio Physicians Health Program

  • Alberta College of Physicians & Surgeons

  • American Medical Association

  • American College of Surgeons

  • The Marshfield Clinic

  • American Psychiatric Association

  • Washington State Medical Assn.

  • British Columbia College of Physicians

  • West Virginia Hospital Assn.

  • Federation of State Medical Licensing Bds.

  • US Bank

  • The Foundation for Medical Excellence

  • Wyoming Medical Board

  • The Mayo Clinic

  • Ministry Health Care (Wisconsin)

  • American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology

  • Colorado Board of Medical Examiners

  • Medical Group Management Association

  • UNUM Insurance Company

  • Saskatchewan Council of Medical Directors

  • Washington Physicians Health Pgm.

  • Federation of State Medical Licensing Boards

  • Washington Medical Quality Commiss.

  • Stanford University Department on Psychiatry & the Law

  • Clearinghouse for Licensing, Enforcement, & Regulation (CLEAR)

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