3 innate leadership skills of physicians

In an era of steep healthcare challenges, physicians are often asked to lead their organizations through myriad unprecedented changes. And although leadership and executive positions are often outside doctors' traditional roles, research suggests that physician leadership is key to helping organizations thrive.

The top five hospitals ranked by U.S. News and World Report in 2013 were led by physicians, a recent whitepaper from the American College of Physician Executives noted. The paper also highlighted that 21 of the 29 Pioneer accountable care organizations (ACOs) that earned bonuses from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were physician-led, and that 29 percent of the physician-led ACOs achieved greater savings than the minimum, FierceHealthCare previously reported.

With the opportunity to influence the evolution of healthcare before them, physicians are increasingly enrolling in MBA programs to augment their clinical skills. Nonetheless, physicians shouldn't underestimate the tools for leadership they inherently possess as a result of their profession, according to an article from Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

Physicians' existing skill sets, which help enable them to "serve as 'quarterbacks' of healthcare teams," as the American Medical Association recently recommended, include the following:

  • Ability to command respect and authority. "The white coat still carries the most weight when it comes to medical advice and team direction," wrote H&HN author Lisa Goren, program director for physician alignment and engagement at Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon.

  • Readiness to diagnose and solve problems. Though they chiefly do this regarding the human body, physicians are uniquely equipped to "balance the big picture with minute details," Goren noted.

  • Access to additional expertise. Physicians are used to asking for second opinions when they need them, and can apply the same strategy to business problems reaching outside of their expertise.

To learn more:
- read the article