Are you Ready for Your Inevitable Role as a Physician Leader?

Are you Ready for Your Inevitable Role as a Physician Leader?

In today’s ever-changing healthcare environment there has never been a greater need for innovative physician leaders. However, the definition of a physician leader has changed. It used to be defined as the required stop a business-minded or administratively-savvy physician took on her way towards retirement. No longer. Today’s organizations are recruiting physicians of all ages with leadership competencies because it is required—not solely for aspiring C-suite individuals or those who wish to serve on a committee, but for everyone.


Clinical and operative competencies are no longer enough in the era of population health; physicians are required to lead staff, care teams, community initiatives, and more. They are required to collaborate, inspire consensus, negotiate, facilitate, and connect stakeholders. How can today’s residents and new physicians better prepare themselves to serve and contribute in this new era?


The Problem: Not Preparing Physicians for Leadership Roles

Medical school and residency do not prepare physicians for leadership positions. Yet, physicians make exceptional leaders. A Harvard Business Review article noted that physician-run hospitals top the U.S. News and World Report Rankings and earn 25% higher quality scores than non-physician run hospitals.


David Nash, MD, MBA and Founding Dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health says that physicians must seek out other opportunities to hone these skillsets—skillsets that include flexibility, a deep understanding of organizational culture, management content expertise, diplomacy, and interest in healthcare improvement. Without getting an MBA or a certification through the American Association for Physician Leadership, how can new physicians garner these essential and required leadership skills?


The Solution: Physician Leadership Training Program

According to a December 2017 Harvard Business Review article, increasing numbers of organizations have formalized a leadership training program that moves physicians through five levels of leadership. They move from individual practitioner to leader of a medical group, program, or academic medical center to market leader where they are responsible for a business segment or region. The final two stages include serving as a group leader or chief medical officer for a corporation or chair of an AMC faculty department, and finally an enterprise leader, such as CEO.


In addition, others who know defined leadership roles are in their future pursue a business, leadership, or management degree. Residents and physicians who are unsure about a formalized leadership position, but are aware of the increasing importance of leadership skills, can develop leadership competencies by:


  • Joining a Team: Committees and groups that emphasize collaborative brainstorming and participatory decision-making help to shift the autonomy mindset inherent to physicians.
  • Committing to Lifelong Learning: Leaders must be educated about the change they are tasked with managing.
  • Seeking Out Leadership Opportunities:  Sitting on a strategic planning committee, running for a leadership position, or applying for a seat on the board of a school or charity will help with listening, collaborating, and strategic thinking.
  • Finding Ways to Make a Meaningful Impact: Consider getting involved in projects, programs, committees, and organizations to help teams work to create bottom-line change.
  • Becoming a Resaource: Aspiring physician leaders must be visionary, with a comprehensive knowledge of healthcare’s evolution. They can do this by listening to mentors, colleagues, and co-workers to learn more about the implications of the always-evolving healthcare system.


Innovative healthcare organizations are always seeking smart, clinically competent physicians. But now more than ever, physicians must bring their expertise, experience, and unique perspective to the forefront of leadership. Healthcare today requires innovative, interdisciplinary physician leaders who will envision and shape the future of the business of medicine. Are you ready?


For physician recruitment services, contact Jordan Search Consultants at 886-750-7231 or email us.

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