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“Leadership is personal,” Dr. Cawley explains. “I think e-mails aren’t as effective as coming to sit down and converse.”

E-mail, however, can be used effectively to report on your project’s success. For example, Dr. Howell says he sent an e-mail about quality indicators to the president of the Johns Hopkins health system. When things went well—as they usually did—the president saw it. When things didn’t go as well, Dr. Howell put together a corrective action plan and e-mailed it along with the indicators to show he was aware of the situation and already had a plan in place to fix it.

“A lot of times [hospitalists] won’t be able to get to the next level and they’ll wonder why,” Dr. Cawley says. “They need to ask somebody they trust to give them an honest evaluation of what they’re doing well and what they may need to improve.”

Hospitalists must be open to constructive criticism, as honest assessments of your work aren’t going to be 100% complimentary. At times, they will be critical.

“Dealing with the feedback can be difficult, but ultimately it helps the hospitalist progress,” Dr. Cawley says. TH

Lisa Ryan is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.

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