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5 important qualities for a medical leader (and one to avoid)

October 4, 2019

Medical leadership is becoming more important, perhaps because it’s becoming more common.

The American College of Physician Executives reports that more than five percent of hospital CEOs are now physicians, with that number growing rapidly under the value-based system.

Medical schools at Duke University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Kentucky are now including medical leadership training, offering courses such as accounting, marketing and management training to go along with clinical coursework. Medical leadership is important because physicians relate best to other physicians, and those who can learn the administrative side can help the healthcare system overcome one of its more persistent challenges – bridging the gap that can often exist between administration and clinicians.

Many physicians are also natural problem solvers, so moving into executive roles and attempting to improve the delivery of healthcare is something many find appealing. But moving from caregiver to leader isn’t always easy. And please note I use the term “leader” and not “manager.” Those are two very different terms. A leader has the ability to affect change in a positive manner. A leader inspires those around him or her to impart a willingness to improve. A leader has goals, drive and commitment and the skill set to achieve them. A manager oversees the day-to-day operations of an organization. Yes, good managers are important, but we desperately need good leaders.

As the chief medical officer of a company with more than 9,000 affiliated physicians, I find leadership development to be one of my most important responsibilities. Each year, I strive to turn hundreds of physicians into leaders through education, training and mentoring. I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t with regard to leadership development. There is certainly no “one-size-fits-all” when you’re dealing with people, but I’ve learned there are certain traits to look for when it comes to leadership.

Read more: Becker’s Hospital Review

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