What Do Employed Physicians Have to Do to Get Ahead?

Leigh Page

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November 18, 2015

In This Article

Employed Physicians Who Want to Be Leaders

Some doctors want nothing more than to spend all their time seeing patients. Others have visions and ambitions of taking on a leadership role, whether in a hospital, healthcare system, or their own large group practice. Motivations vary: Some of these physicians want to have more control of the system; others want more money that a higher position or more responsibility may bring.

But the path from a sole focus on clinical patient care to administrative leadership is not always clear, and the ascent is not certain. Here's how some physicians have moved up in the organization.

An Option for Physicians Who Want It

Many employed doctors aren't initially interested in moving into roles outside of clinical medicine, according to Peter Angood, MD, president and CEO of the American Association for Physician Leadership in Tampa, Florida (formerly the American College of Physician Executives). "It can be paradoxical," Dr Angood says. "Physicians often seek employment to get away from bureaucracy and focus on clinical activities, but getting into administrative work involves setting aside clinical work." Also, you may have to deal with the rules and regulations you were trying to escape.

However, Dr Angood says administrative work can be very rewarding and is often closely related to clinical activities. When you're trying to find ways to improve infection rates or integrate a group practice into the system, for example, "you're still pursuing your clinical work, but on a larger stage," he says.

Brooke Buckley, MD, chief of the division of general surgery at 380-bed Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland, also finds that many employed doctors aren't interested in administrative jobs. She thinks this runs counter to their self-interest. "It behooves us to participate in the system," she says. "Administrative decisions affect your clinical practice, and these decisions often involve input from committees where doctors serve."

Employed physicians in hospitals, health systems, or group practices can tackle a variety of work beyond their clinical duties that might make their jobs more rewarding and could lead to full-time administrative positions.

These opportunities often start with serving on a committee or council and taking on a project, such as reducing infections or helping clinicians become more efficient. From there, you might go on to more substantial roles, such as heading a local group of employed doctors, chairing a division or department, serving on the board of a medical practice, becoming an officer on the hospital medical staff, or serving as a physician representative in a physician-hospital organization. Beyond that, the sky's the limit. You might even become CEO of the whole organization—a position that is increasingly common for physicians to hold.

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