Five Physician Leadership Skills For the Future

Physician leaders are much in demand today, but the physician leader of the future must be more than just an accomplished clinician. Just as vital will be skills in:

  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • Peer review and management abilities
  • Long-term goal setting and strategic planning
  • An understanding of health care economics and data

That’s what more 50 physicians heard at the MMS this week, as they gathered to strengthen their skills in a subject rarely taught in medical school or residency: Leadership. It was the inaugural sessions of the MMS’ new Physician Leadership Institute.

“The reinvention of health care is just beginning,” MMS President Dr. Lynda Young told the attendees of the four-part series. “We want to teach more physicians the art, science and discipline of leadership.”

The first session, “Changing Paradigms in Healthcare; What Does the Future Hold?” included a overview of health care industry trends, as well as seminars on change management, generational differences among physicians, emerging roles for physician leaders, and coaching and mentoring skills.

The group will meet for two online sessions, before the final live module, “Evolving Roles for Physician Leaders in the Age of Healthcare  Reform,”  focusing on organizational transformation, goal-setting and problem-solving, and technology implementation, scheduled for September 14.

This week’s session was conducted by the California-based Institute for Medical Leadership, with training conducted by its president and CEO,  Susan Reynolds, M.D., and presentations from  Institute faculty members C. E. Mickey Bilbrey, former president and CEO of the University of Tennessee Medical Center,  and Richard Corlin, M.D., president of the AMA from 2001-2002.

Clinical integration, cooperation between health systems and hospitals, cost management, and quality measurement techniques will be vital to the future of the industry, so physicians must be the ones to lead patients, peers, administrators, payers, and elected officials in the right direction, Institute staff said.

“We have to have great physician-leaders to lead this process,” Bilbrey said. “You can’t sit on the sidelines.”

Reynolds described the evolving roles for physicians to lead in areas of quality and patient safety and information technology, including many executive positions that did not exist only a few years ago.

One of the biggest challenges for physician-leaders is abandoning traditional, dictatorial model of management in favor of the team-building, collaborative approach demanded by 21st century health care systems.

“The most successful physician leaders are going to be the one who close the gaps,” said Reynolds.

Erica Noonan

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