Q&A: Iden­ti­fy­ing Physi­cian Lead­ers

Modern Healthcare - - WORKFORCE -

Why is lead­er­ship train­ing nec­es­sary for physi­cians?

Many peo­ple be­lieve that physi­cians are nat­u­ral lead­ers. It’s true that physi­cians demon­strate lead­er­ship skills when work­ing with a team of pro­fes­sion­als—nurses, tech­ni­cians, other physi­cians. In fact, demon­strated clin­i­cal ex­per­tise and tem­per­a­ment are the two fac­tors that of­ten lead to a lead­er­ship ap­point­ment. How­ever, while be­ing a good clin­i­cian and a good per­son is im­por­tant for cred­i­bil­ity and in­flu­ence, there are many ar­eas of lead­er­ship where clin­i­cians are un­trained.

What skills do your clin­i­cians need to learn?

Pro­vid­ing crit­i­cal feed­back is both an es­sen­tial and chal­leng­ing lead­er­ship skill. Very few peo­ple have learned how to give pro­duc­tive feed­back and at times shy away from it un­til it is too late.

At TeamHealth, we teach new clin­i­cian lead­ers to give feed­back through prac­tice and role play­ing ex­er­cises. Clin­i­cians want their lead­ers to give them feed­back that is pro­vided pri­vately, con­struc­tively, quickly and ob­jec­tively.

In this era of out­comes, how do you know if your ef­forts are suc­cess­ful?

It is not enough to sim­ply train peo­ple. To be ef­fec­tive and achieve suc­cess, we must hard­wire the process and en­sure ac­count­abil­ity with met­ric-driven goals and con­sis­tent fol­low-up. As clin­i­cians, we are trained to an­a­lyze and as­sess data to make ev­i­dence­based de­ci­sions, so this as­pect of lead­er­ship comes nat­u­rally to many clin­i­cal lead­ers. TeamHealth has a so­phis­ti­cated sys­tem that en­sures ac­count­abil­ity.

What is especially im­por­tant to your client hos­pi­tals and their CEOs?

Be­fore we provide ser­vices at any fa­cil­ity, our team of lead­ers and man­agers meet with their team of lead­ers and man­agers. We con­duct an ex­ten­sive ex­plo­ration of their goals and an­a­lyze the bar­ri­ers to achiev­ing those goals. After, we set time-spe­cific and mea­sur­able goals.

I have no­ticed com­mon goals among providers: cost and qual­ity out­comes and ex­cel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice, which di­rectly re­late to pres­sures from value-based care. I have also seen dif­fer­ing goals across or­ga­ni­za­tions, from im­prov­ing doc­tor-nurse relationships to rais­ing pa­tient sat­is­fac­tion. This is where pain points spe­cific to the or­ga­ni­za­tion can be ad­dressed through train­ing.

How do you iden­tify physi­cian lead­ers?

• They show a desire to par­tic­i­pate and lead by tak­ing on re­spon­si­bil­i­ties within their group.

• They demon­strate skills be­yond clin­i­cal ex­cel­lence. While pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent care is nec­es­sary, it is not the only in­di­ca­tor of a fu­ture leader.

• They are able to cre­ate, share and col­lab­o­rate on a vi­sion. They are also able to mo­ti­vate.

• They ac­tively seek out prob­lems, com­plaints and in­ef­fi­cien­cies to en­act im­prove­ment.

• When nat­u­ral iden­ti­fi­ca­tion fails, you can use a test. For ex­am­ple, we uti­lize an ob­jec­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal and man­age­ment test that eval­u­ates a po­ten­tial leader’s strengths and weak­nesses.

Dr. Robert Strauss is TeamHealth’s Vice Pres­i­dent of Pro­gram De­vel­op­ment. He has sub­stan­tial re­spon­si­bil­ity for ori­ent­ing and train­ing the clin­i­cian lead­ers within TeamHealth.

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