When your group needed a director, everybody stepped back except you. Or maybe you’re thinking about transitioning into a hospital administrative leadership role like department chair, patient safety officer, vice president of medical affairs, chief medical officer, or even CEO.
“Over the next 10 years, the single largest source of new CMOs might be hospitalists,” says John Nelson, MD, MHM, medical director at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Wash., and principal of the consulting firm Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants.
You might already have discovered that these responsibilities require skills that weren't taught in medical school, and you could be struggling. The trick is figuring out which skills you need to strengthen, as well as selecting the right training venues.
You'll need financial and business literacy, technical savvy for process and system improvements, planning ability, and emotional intelligence to engineer cooperative relationships between multiple stakeholders. Successful career advancement ultimately requires leadership acumen: proof that you can run a business, manage upstream and downstream communication, and handle administrative and liaison duties within the hospital.
“As healthcare reform begins to financially incentivize things like safe patient handoffs and more evidence-based medicine, the business part of running a practice is going to quickly align with quality and safety outcomes. That’s what hospital medicine leaders should be focusing on,” says Lakshmi K. Halasyamani, MD, SFHM, vice president of quality and systems improvement at Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., and an SHM board member.
There is no shortage of training options, including books, mentorships, hospital committee membership, workshops, courses, and master’s-level programs in business leadership. And as the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, there will be a growing demand for physicians, particularly hospitalists, with greater procedural and conceptual understanding of healthcare systems.
For more about hospitalists becoming the business leaders in healthcare, check out this month’s cover story, "Business Blueprint."