Looking to develop physician leaders? Invest in mentoring

Hospital executives looking to find leaders among their physician ranks would be wise to invest in creating and maintaining a mentorship program. Such efforts can go a long way toward improving care and lowering costs, according to an article in Hospitals & Health Networks.

Mentorship programs, according to Maine Medical Center CMO Peter Bates, put into practice "abstract concepts" taught in the classroom, making retention of information a much more tangible achievement. "Having a mentor to work with someone on the application of competencies...to a specific project is much more powerful as a learning tool than just talking about these skills," Bates says.

Designing a strong program, however, is no small feat. A recent survey conducted by the National Center for Healthcare Leadership shows that evidence-based leadership development is more successful at health systems and hospitals affiliated with systems, likely due to a larger pool of available resources.

Currently, Wisconsin-based Aurora Medical Group picks its physician leaders from management committees that supervise various departments throughout the hospital, according to H&HN. "By observing the thought processes and engagement levels of committee participants, we can obtain insights into which physicians have the interest, the fortitude...to develop into physician leaders," says Jon Kluge, vice president of clinical operations. "The management committees give physicians an opportunity to get involved in leadership and decision-making."

Kluge, though, is working toward jumping on the mentorship bandwagon. Aurora is designing an "in-house" leadership program to help shape future mentors that, according to Kluge, will be completely set up by the end of next year.

To learn more:
- read this Hospitals & Health Networks piece
- here's the NCHL survey (.pdf)