Doctors: The Truth About What Your Boss Wants From You

Shelly Reese


November 17, 2011

In This Article


You're expected to be a good clinician, but if you want to advance within your organization, you'd better be a lot more than that.

Healthcare organizations are evolving with unprecedented speed. Thanks to consolidation and cultural change, they're beginning to speak the language and adopt the tools of corporate America. They're using mission, vision, and values statements to define themselves and adopting sophisticated tools, such as personality profiling, probationary periods, and performance reviews to assess job candidates and physician employees.

In a world where medical care requires greater level of integration, healthcare organizations are demanding more than clinical excellence from physicians.

What exactly does the boss want? Here's a closer look.

Wanted: A Marketable Personality

A bit snappish before your first cup of coffee? Meetings make you impatient? No time to listen to Mrs. Jones drone on? The quirks that your colleagues learned to tolerate may no longer be so endearing to your employer.

"The old M.O. of an orthopaedic surgeon was: 'I'll show up when I want to and I'll use the device I want to and it's my way or the highway,'" says Brett Hickman, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Industries Advisory Group. "That's not sustainable."

Physicians have to find ways beyond their clinical expertise to engage patients.

Today's employers are looking for physicians who can relate to their coworkers and patients, says Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Coker, Permanent Division, a physician recruiting firm based in Alpharetta, Georgia. "Clients tell us over and over: 'We want someone who is going to be a good teammate. A good partner. Someone who works and plays well with others. Someone who is personable and will attract more patients.'"

Call it "charm," says Craig Samitt, MD, president and CEO of Dean Health Systems, a Madison, Wisconsin-based network of clinics, hospitals, and a health insurance plan. "Physicians have to find ways beyond their clinical expertise to engage patients. It improves patient satisfaction; it improves patients' adherence to the recommendations their physician makes; and it results in patient loyalty to the practice."

What's more, studies show patients don't sue doctors they like, notes Tommy Bohannon, vice president of hospital-based recruiting for Merritt Hawkins, an Irving, Texas-based physician recruiting firm. "Medicine is much more of a customer-service business than it ever has been," he says. "Going forward there is going to be more emphasis on things like interpersonal relationships and bedside manner."

Reviewing an evaluation form 1 hospital recently used as part of its candidate assessment process, Bohannon noted that 14 of the 17 questions interviewees were asked related to personality issues. It's not that clinical skills aren't important, he emphasizes: it's that they're not enough.

"Just because you trained at one of the top five programs and graduated top of your class isn't going to make you the best candidate for the job," he says. "Hospitals are employing doctors en masse and they don't want to upset the apple cart. If they can't retain, hiring becomes more difficult. They don't want a problem child."


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: