Monday, March 1, 2010

Physician Leadership: The Next Generation

I’ve had a couple of really great weeks.

I had lunch the other day with several physicians who are here in Tampa for the Certified Physician Executive tutorial. Almost all of them were in their thirties. Last week I was at a meeting with CMIOs, many of whom were in the same age group. This is a very energetic and determined group of physicians who have a whole different set of challenges than many of us have had, or are currently dealing with. I left these two separate meetings with optimism for the future of health care and a determination to make ACPE a place where they can get the help they’re seeking. Here’s what I heard.

Many of these physicians already have advanced degrees in management. They’re very articulate in defining leadership and management challenges in health care. They decided during their medical training, or before, that they wanted to be in leadership or management roles. All of them are familiar and facile with information technology as a means to improve health care. Some of them were tapped for IT roles because of the perception that they’re “technodocs”. Direct, one-on-one patient care is not their preferred career path. They want to maintain both a clinical role, and a significant leadership or management position in whatever organization they’re working with.

They note that the health care industry is extremely hierarchical. Leadership positions are usually given to physicians who are much older than themselves. They’re being pulled into leadership roles primarily because they have IT skills, and because they really enjoy the opportunity to improve a system. Unlike many mid-career or older physicians who describe being pushed into management roles somewhat reluctantly, this group is very excited about shaping the next generation of health care.

They’re interested in learning how to position themselves in the eyes of system leaders and board members as potential senior leaders – even as physicians who are still early in their careers. Because they’re young, many older physicians feel they can use their personal connections with senior leaders or board members to make life difficult for them when change management issues are not to the liking of senior colleagues. Their spouses sometimes ask them if their CMIO role will lead to anything else after the IT implementation is completed, or whether their system leadership opportunity ends with that job. I think that’s a very fair question, and one that deserves an answer.

If you’re in a high level senior leadership role at your organization, would you do anything different if you knew that the youngest physicians making an impact in your organization might be impatient for more significant leadership opportunities? Have you mapped out a career path with them that fills their needs for a satisfying career in health system leadership? What would you tell them about positioning themselves for those higher level roles if they’ve already gotten their MBA or MMM, and if you’ve been noticing how quickly and elegantly they’re able to define a thorny issue in your organization compared to older physician leaders without that leadership and management training? If you thought that one of the youngest physicians on your staff was the best leader for key organizational roles in quality, IT, safety, operations, or even the CMO role, would you discount their suitability because of their age? Can we create organizational structures for the health care systems of the future that are less hierarchical, more teamwork oriented and less age-dependent?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment!