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Why You Should Look for Physicians With Leadership Qualities

Adaptive Medical Partners | Physician Recruiting

It’s 3 p.m. on a Tuesday. Your emergency department gets the call. A 33-year-old female has rolled her truck on the highway and is on her way via helicopter. She is eight months pregnant and the fetus is in distress. Within minutes, the trauma team, obstetrics team and neonatology team are all assembled in the trauma center.

These physicians will need leadership qualities to coordinate the care needed to save the lives of these incoming patients. Your hospital, and more importantly your patients, depend on it.

Physicians have always needed great leadership skills, as highlighted by the classic example above. Here’s why you should prioritize leadership qualities during the hiring process.

Some of the Best Healthcare Organizations Are Run by Physicians

Look at the two best hospitals according to the 2016 U.S. News and World Report ranking. The Mayo Clinic and The Cleveland Clinic have one thing in common: Their CEOs, John Noseworthy and Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, are physicians who possess excellent leadership abilities.

The success of such organizations has encouraged others to follow. When clinicians move into leadership and administrative roles, they are able to shift administrative focus to patient-centered care and positive health outcomes. When this shift occurs, healthcare institutions and patients benefit.

As Ana Pujols McKee, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Joint Commission, states, “Physician engagement and leadership is different at higher-performing organizations.” She believes they play an active role in setting and achieving the organization’s vision.

Physicians With Leadership Qualities Are Best Suited for Administrative Roles

In 2016, Harvard Business Review examined why the best hospitals are run by doctors instead of non-medical administrative personal. Their findings support what appears to be an obvious truth.

When doctors become administrators, they direct the organization more effectively than someone who has never been involved with patient care. This concept isn’t new. It’s just relatively new to healthcare.

In education, successful principals are often former teachers. In sports, many successful coaches are former players. It makes sense to infuse leadership ranks with administrators who aren’t just able to manage others. They must also possess personal experience and knowledge about the institutions they manage. This is especially true when it comes to healthcare.

According to a report published by the American Hospital Association, in addition to standard core competencies, effective physician leaders must also be able to use systems theory and analysis, incorporate information technology effectively, participate in cross-disciplinary training, continuously increase medical knowledge and have superb communication skills.

With these tools at their disposal, physician leaders are able to navigate the familiar terrain of healthcare delivery — while innovating protocols and procedures. They improve outcomes, enable colleagues to maximize their potential and ensure greater success for the entire facility they oversee.

Healthcare is shifting its administrative emphasis from efficiency to efficacy

As the joint commission and H-CAPS scores determine licensing and funding, hospitals must focus on better patient care experiences, lower readmission rates and higher quality personnel. The leaders of the most successful institutions going forward will be physicians, as they possess the knowledge that is critical to improving in all three of these categories.

The good news is many medical schools now include medical leadership in their curriculum, including Duke University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Kentucky. More important than this education is real world experience, whether it is chairing committees, overseeing departments or even previous work experience before becoming a physician.

The onus is on hospitals to seek out, hire and train medical personnel to fit this new physician-led paradigm. When screening candidates for physician roles, hospitals and other healthcare institutions should look for physicians with leadership training and leadership experience. Partnering with capable recruiters, utilizing technology and leveraging social media can help optimize the search for a physician with leadership skills.

By emphasizing hiring physicians with strong leadership skills, healthcare organizations will set themselves up for sustained success. And the patients will benefit.