10 Tips for Identifying & Succeeding in Clinical Anesthesia LeadershipRoy Winston, MD, chief of anesthesiology at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, Calif., and Marina Ring, COO of Somnia Anesthesia presented a webinar titled, "Identifying and Succeeding in a Clinical Leadership Role," hosted by GasWork.com, an online anesthesia employment resource. Dr. Winston and Ms. Ring discussed best practices for current anesthesia leaders and how aspiring anesthesia leaders should prepare for the role.
Current Leaders1. Maintaining clinical leadership. As anesthesiologists rise up in leadership positions, they often end up doing less clinical work, unlike other specialty physicians where physician leaders spend more time in the operating room. Regardless of time constraints, anesthesiologists should work to lead the department by being a clinical example and seeing all phases of the OR.
"Don't become stale or lose touch with what's going on," Dr. Winston said. "Lead by example, lead by the front." Leaders should work to manage time and resources well so they can make clinical practice remain a priority.
2. Developing relationships. Anesthesia leaders need to make effort to develop and maintain a positive working relationship with hospital executive team members. Open channels of communication and transparency are key to keeping these relationships positive. Dr. Winston pointed out that hospital leaders often have the most influence over contracts.
Strive for transparency in:
• Patient care
• Job descriptions
• Human resources issues
Being clear and honest are the "cornerstones" to having a team respect and follow you, Dr. Winston says.
3. Leveraging resources. Know the resources you have as a clinical and professional leader, and use those resources to help you do your job to the utmost of your ability.
Support services include:
• Quality assurance
• Annual leadership meetings
• Quarterly clinical calls
4. Building & managing OR relationships. Anesthesiologists thrive to develop solid relationships with patients, but often specialty leaders need to put more work into building relationships with fellow operating room personnel, including surgeons, administration, nursing staff and other medical staff.
Cooperation with all care providers will make for a smoother operating room experience for all involved. By establishing mutual respect with these individuals, anesthesia leaders will be better at their job and provide higher quality patient care.
5. Benchmarking your performance. Benchmark against other facilities in your network across the U.S., and use national data to see how your team is performing. "Judge yourself against what's going on with other anesthesia providers," Dr. Winston said. "Are you really doing things on time? Are patients happy? Are you keeping surgeons where they need to be?" Benchmarks should also be used to measure regulatory compliance for CMS and Surgical Care Improvement Project Guidelines.
Patient feedback is also important to gauge and consider. He recommends using patient satisfaction surveys, in addition to benchmark data, to see where your team is succeeding and where there is room for improvement. Ask patients how comfortable they were, how well they were treated and if they are likely to recommend your anesthesia services.
6. Constantly improving. The most successful leaders are always looking for ways to improve, whether clinically or by helping team members improve. Improvement starts with the right attitude. "We are in the business of saying 'yes' in anesthesia," Dr. Winston said. "If you are saying 'no,' then you won't get too far. Say 'yes' within parameters, having the best practices in mind."
Develop your own leadership skills through conferences, networking, events and education. Also work to grow your leadership team. Find budding skills in members and help them hone and evolve those skills.
7. Leadership requirements. Those individuals looking to become anesthesia leaders should strive to meet standard educational requirements, as well as garner necessary work experience to prepare for the challenges of leadership, according to Ms. Ring. Education requirements include board certification, active state licenses and Advanced Cardiac Life Support or Pediatric Advanced Life Support certification.
"Leadership involves wearing multiple hats and switching roles," Ms. Rings said. "You need to be a leader in technical aspects, and you need to model and set the standard for behaviors."
Leaders should possess other skills, including flexibility, organization, integrity, vision, communication, persuasion, adaptability, teamwork, coaching, planning, decision-making and more.
8. Job responsibilities. While hospital situations vary, anesthesia leaders can expect some of the same job responsibilities from location to location. Leaders may assist in the development and review of anesthesia procedures, protocols or policies. They should also be prepared to contribute to the clinical care environment and provide feedback on equipment or logistical issues, Ms. Ring said.
Management responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
• Overseeing time off schedules for staff
• Resolving clinical care related issues or concerns
• Managing post operative care to meet accreditation standards
• Participating in hospital committees or boards
• Interfacing between the anesthesia department and other departments
• Overseeing quality assurance efforts
9. Considerations. The main consideration aspiring anesthesia leaders should look at if they believe they are ready for leadership is the associated responsibility and work. In striving to be ready, anesthesiologists can connect with other leaders, seek out a mentor, acquire clinical leadership skills in their current roles and act like a leader, Ms. Ring said. "Seeking additional responsibility is critical to success," she said.
Leadership options can be widespread, and exist in academic, clinical, subspecialty and business administration avenues.
10. Finding opportunities. Websites, such as Gaswork.com, provide platforms for anesthesiologists to seek leadership openings. Organizations such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Hospital Association, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists and Medical Group Management Association often advertise openings. Check hospital websites and LinkedIn, as well. Networking events and workshops for anesthesia are also resources to keep an eye on.
More Articles on Anesthesia:
CMS Anesthesia Care Standards Outlined in AHC Media Book
ASA Recognizes Annual Patient Safety Awareness Week
ASA Supports Repeal of SGR
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