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H&HN Daily
H&HN Daily

Turning Physicians Into Leaders

01.27.14 by Matthew Weinstock H&HN Assistant Managing Editor

Physicians are being thrust into leadership positions as the delivery system continues evolves. But are they ready?

At the University of Kentucky, med school students can get certified in medical management. The course work covers such topics as health care delivery systems and accounting

Students at the Medical College of Wisconsin can take a nine-day course that covers managing people, marketing and leadership.

Duke University School of Medicine and Duke University Health System have collaborated on a program that gives residents management training to go along with their core clinical work.

These are just a few examples of steps medical schools and health systems are undertaking to better train not just tomorrow’s physicians, but tomorrow’s physician leaders. As health care continues to move from the antiquated volume and silo-based model, more of these programs are certain to arise. As we reported last September, a growing number of colleges are looking at offering joint MD/MBA programs.

Last summer, the AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum and the American College of Physician Executives held a half-day meeting to better understand what skills physicians will need as they are increasingly thrust into leadership positions. Building off of that, the PLF last week released a report, "Physician Leadership: The Implications for a Transformed Delivery System," that delves into some of the opportunities and challenges ahead.

"As physicians continue to assume leadership roles in hospitals and health systems and serve as drivers of the future health care organizations, they will need to move beyond their clinical expertise and think long term, understand and be able to see the larger issues, and work collaboratively as team players," the report states.

The report identified several four key factors at play in developing physician leaders, including:

  • The complexity of health care organizations and the current health care environment: "Challenges faced by health care organizations today are best addressed by those with experience on the frontlines of delivering care. Reform will require strong leaders from within health care, and who better to lead this than physicians, who have firsthand knowledge on pressing issues like access, quality and safety improvement, and patient care."
  • Physicians’ disinclination to followership and collaboration: Physician training is "individualistic in nature, but to meet the care needs of the increasing population with a decreasing physician supply will require that all clinicians work together in teams to provide the best care to patients across the continuum. Those physicians who are able to embrace a culture of collaboration will be better situated to succeed."

Importantly, the report also notes that "clinical and academic skills are no guarantee of leadership success."

What’s happening in your institutions to train physician leaders? Let us know. Comment below or directly to me via email, Twitter or Google+.

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