MDNews - Minnesota

Special Edition 2013

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Mining Physician Ranks by Valerie lauer �o� Hospita� Leaders tRansitioning fRom clinical Roles into hosPital aDministRation RequiRes not only significant time anD effoRt but also skills that aRe not tRaDitionally PaRt of Physician tRaining, eXPeRts say. R eSearCh PuBliShed BY Social Science & Medicine in 2011 suggests the nation's top hospitals may be those that embrace clinician oversight. The researchers did not claim to have established causation between physician leadership and high levels of performance by hospitals. However, the findings suggest physicians should be viewed along with professionals from business or other educational backgrounds as potential sources of effective leadership. Same goal, different approaches The paths available to physicians seeking to become leaders in their hospitals are wide-ranging. Some physicians desire master's degrees in public health, business or healthcare administration, notes Peter Angood, MD, FRCS(C), FACS, FCCM, CEO of the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE). But "not everyone needs or wants that," he adds, and pursuing education full time may not be feasible for busy physicians. Therefore, groups such as ACPE and other institutions offer a full spectrum of learning opportunities, including fast-track executive MBA programs, individual courses, certificates and distance learning options that allow physicians to hone leadership skills without leaving their homes or offices. For example, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Master of Public Health degree is offered both in a part-time, online format and as a concentrated, full-time, 11-month program. a Broad Skill Set For physicians who want to move into administrative leadership, developing skills that differ substantially from those required in patient care is key, says James K. Stoller, MD, MS, Chairman of the Education Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. "It is often felt that clinical competence or scientific prowess is the criteria for leadership success," Dr. Stoller says. However, he adds, leadership also depends on traits such as emotional intelligence as well as the ability to negotiate, resolve conflicts, promote teamwork and think strategically. "These are competencies we believe are essential for healthcare leadership, and they can be taught," Dr. Stoller says, noting the range of leadership education opportunities offered by the Cleveland Clinic Academy and by business schools, professional societies and other organizations. an organizational responsibility But developing physician leaders is not the responsibility solely of practitioners, Dr. Stoller says. The hospital culture must also value physicians' potential for leadership. In addition to offering accessible curriculum, hospitals should provide mentorship from senior staff and create opportunities for physician leaders in training to demonstrate their capabilities in positions of increasing responsibility and authority. That "experiential piece" is crucial, according to Dr. Stoller. It gives physicians the opportunity to exercise their expanding administrative skills and allows healthcare organizations to assess the physicians' progress. However, he says, none of that happens by accident. Fostering physician leadership is a conscious, step-by-step process for both physicians and hospitals. "That requires commitment," says Dr. Stoller. ■ MdNewS.CoM ■ MD News Twin Cities | 37

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