4 key thoughts for building physician leaders

Orlando-based Florida Hospital's Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mark Hertling, who leads a program for global partnership, leadership, development and health performance strategies at the hospital, penned an article on physician leadership for The Hill.

The hospital has begun teaching physicians leadership skills to transform the institution. According to Mr. Hertling, most physician leaders have excellent clinical skills, but lack the ability to grow interpersonal relationships and build a team. Here are key thoughts for physician leadership training:

1. Change the physician leadership recruitment process. Physicians with excellent clinical skills or long careers behind them are often recruited as leaders, but the best leaders are those who can analyze human dynamics and communicate with others as well as engage teams and build consensus.

2. Give physicians the opportunity to contribute at the strategic level. Physicians know the details of the critical health issues in the country and can be an asset when creating strategic plans for running healthcare institutions. Helping them build relationships with administrators and other healthcare professionals can spark this growth.

3. Efficiency and effectiveness is paramount for physician leaders. Clinicians are often focused on solving the health problem, but physician leaders of the future must also consider the most efficient and cost-effective way to achieve the best outcome.

4. Physician leaders look beyond themselves for the right answer. In the clinical practice, they seek the right diagnosis and treatment for each medical situation, and often they have those answers available. In running institutions, the problem may not be easy to pinpoint and the solution even less obvious. Engagement with the healthcare team is crucial to driving a successful healthcare organization.

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