Physician engagement through professional development: Q&A with Sheridan Chief Quality Officer Dr. Gerald Maccioli

Physician engagement is key for organizations looking to strengthen their clinical team in the current, uncertain healthcare landscape.

Gerald Maccioli, MD, MBA, is the chief quality officer for  Plantation, Fla.-based Sheridan Healthcare, the physician services division of AmSurg. He sees physician engagement as essential for all stakeholders and, in the following article, he discusses one way to keep physicians engaged — offering comprehensive professional development opportunities.

Question: Why is it important to focus on professional development for anesthesiologists?

Dr. Maccioli: It's important for anesthesiologists and every other type of physician. Physicians are highly educated problem solvers; thus, development and engagement are tied together. Physicians are trained as scientists, and administrators are trained in business. So, if you take your physicians and give them the opportunity to participate in strategic training, they will be more engaged.
If the physician is given the authority to co-lead coupled with strategic planning training, that is a way to engage the physician and create buy-in at the same time. Physicians need to feel like they are making an impact.  

Q: What can organizations do to further their anesthesiologists' professional development?

GM: This always comes back to education and communication. Physicians tend to see things in their own silo-ed practices and there is a communication chasm. It is important to provide education around what processes they can impact and give them a venue to do so.

The culture of business is different from the culture of the practice and sometimes it seems like the physicians and administrators are not in sync. Connecting the role of the clinical physician to organizational strategy and market trends is critical to trying to figure out where their training can be impactful.

We all want the quadruple aim — which includes a satisfied population of physicians. If engagement isn't developed, you are never going to get to that. It will always be a push and pull rather than a rolling together phenomenon.

Q: What areas of professional development should organizations focus on for anesthesiologists?

GM: Hospitals should offer basic courses in finance and strategic planning. The only way physicians will be full partners is if they understand the hospital's business strategy. Before I got my MBA and really became involved in strategic planning, there was a disconnect between clinical life and strategic direction. You can work at a facility 20 years and still not know what the organization's strategic goals are.

We tend to work in so many silos. I worked in a hospital where the administrator, who was an accountant, came and rounded with us once a week and that was greatly educational for him. It gave him a ground level view of what was going on.  

Q: What are some specific examples of an organization's investment in professional development and physician engagement?

GM: Sheridan, for example, has a variety of opportunities. There is the Sheridan Leadership Academy, a once a year, three-day seminar that is open to all physician specialties. The seminar includes break-out tracks that are specialty-specific and these keep physicians abreast of what is going on in their specializations.

Sheridan is also a part of something called the Anesthesia Business Group. Via the group, anesthesiologists go to Wharton Business School for specialized training. It is a one week, intensive, deep-dive program. We have seen this pay off and people who take up this opportunity go on to assume departmental and leadership roles in the company.
Finally, there is the emerging leaders program. The 18-month program involves mentors working with physicians. The physicians are required to complete a capstone project. I think the best leaders are grown and honed from within and that is the philosophy that exists here.

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