Don't Expect Physicians to Lead Change

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , October 4, 2013

It often takes doctors away from their practice for periods of time, many doctors who need this training most are not employees of the hospitals and health systems where they practice, and many leaders and board members worry that an investment in physician leadership training may train doctors only to have them compete with the health system.

Yet the evidence that physicians need this training is ample.

"The average board certified internist has had seven years of post-college training," says Nash. "In that seven years, she may have had only two hours of classroom-based leadership training. And we expect these people to lead the development of the patient-centered medical home?"

Of course, there's a problem in painting an entire diverse group of 600,000 practicing physicians across the country as deficient in leadership skills. Physician leadership is not an oxymoron. Many of the most well-known proponents of evidence-based medicine, infection and quality control, clinical integration, and many other groundbreaking innovations in patient care are physicians.

They're heading up ACO programs. They're chief medical officers. They are leaders in promoting and developing clinical informatics. More and more hospitals and health systems are tapping physicians as their CEOs. So they are out there. There just aren't enough of them, says Nash.

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