Hospitalists with a hunger for taking on administrative roles often pursue an advanced degree. But whether it’s to assume a leadership role or just do a better job, it’s the not-altogether-obvious skills that can help hospitalists improve their careers and job satisfaction.
By refining communication styles, being receptive to mentoring, or learning how to influence decision-makers, hospitalists can convey competence to their peers and superiors. Intangible strengths such as these will help the hospitalist who wishes to carve a niche as a quality-improvement researcher, director of a medical education clerkship, patient safety officer, or medical director.
Who Needs What
The administrative skills hospitalists need depend on their career goals. Those who reflect on their career goals, identify their core values, and consider what is feasible at different stages in their lives can more quickly build the abilities they’ll need. This self-awareness is perhaps the first skill to develop.
The setting and practice model hospitalists work in also influences which skills they may need.
“Although the skills needed in different settings may be fundamentally the same, the politics differ between a community hospital and a teaching hospital,” says Sayeed Khan, MD, director of the hospitalist program of Lakeside Medical Group. “Communication skills may be even more crucial in a community hospital, where it’s less understood what a hospitalist is.” Such ability to educate people in Hospitalist 101 is yet another skill a savvy administrator or administrator-to-be should hone.
Hospitalists also need to understand quality control and other measures—and what the numbers mean.
For example, says Dr. Khan, it’s valuable to know:
- What it means to have good bed days at the end of the month and an average length of stay of 3.3 days;
- How that compares with other groups in other hospitals; and
- The implications of those measures in terms of outcomes, dollar costs, and savings to the hospital as well as the group—and how that translates for the patient.
“Those are the types of figures that many hospitalists don’t really understand,” says Dr. Khan.
But hospitalists can learn by observing and studying. “I’m a good example of that in that I do not have a formal business background,” Dr. Khan says. “Along with the literature, networking with other people, particularly at the SHM annual meeting, can help hospitalists gain a better understanding of what these numbers mean and what the benchmarks are.”