Many larger health systems and academic medical centers—and even some community hospitals—offer in-house leadership training and mentorship programs, says David L. Klocke, MD, chair of the Division of Hospital Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. In his institution, physician leaders are paired with partners from administration who fill in any gaps in their management or leadership skills, Dr. Klocke says. “You’re mentoring them as well about medical issues and skills,” he adds.
Another way to hone your skills is to join hospital committees. “Build up time in the saddle,” Dunham says. “Indicate your leadership potential and your interest in taking the next steps.” If you seek out committees, you’ll get on them, Dr. Nelson says. “And once on them, if you can distinguish yourself by helping to lead the committee in a good direction, your career will be off and running,” he explains. There are many kinds of hospital committee work to choose from, including peer review, performance improvement, practice guideline development, utilization review, pharmacy, and therapeutics.
For hospitalists wanting a deeper dive, more formal business and leadership training is available through a variety of workshops and courses, many of which offer CME credit. “My favorite was the SHM Leadership Academy, which is fairly short and very practical. Every minute was directly relevant to me as a hospitalist,” Dr. Howell says of the four-day program. Covered topics include teamwork collaboration, communication strategies, hospital performance metrics, scheduling and compensation, strategic planning, financial reports, recruitment, negotiation, motivating others, and managing physician performance.
The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) offers leadership training modules with certification, as well as MBA and MMM (master’s in medical management) programs through partnerships with universities, according to Dr. Agborbesong. There are several other organizations that offer leadership training, she notes, including The Institute for Medical Leadership, the Boot Camp on Leadership Fundamentals for Physicians, the Center for Creative Leadership, and the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence (CCME) Physician Leadership Institute.
An MBA is an appropriate goal for many hospitalist leadership scenarios, such as entry-level program director, lead hospitalist at a healthcare system with multiple hospital medicine programs, or regional coordinator for a hospital medicine staffing company, says Michael Stahl, PhD, director of the Physician Executive MBA Program and professor of Strategy and Business Planning at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
“An MBA program is particularly well-suited to the physician who gets invited, all of a sudden, to be a leader and discovers they don’t have the knowledge, skill sets, tools and techniques, and ways of thinking about the business side of healthcare. It’s not unusual to see people at the start of their leadership careers saying, ‘I’m going to make an investment in my own human capital by earning an accredited MBA,’ ” Stahl says.
A rapidly changing healthcare landscape requires greater attention to business planning, capital and budget, revenue, and cost-containment principles, Stahl notes. “There will be incredible pressure on controlling the cost of healthcare in the future,” he says. “New reimbursement models are probably going to yield lower reimbursement. What we’re most interested in is equipping people with the tools and techniques of finance so that they can learn to model those new reimbursement types, whatever they are, and no matter how their regulations change.”
Although an MBA sounds daunting, many programs are tailored to a new leader’s busy schedule. For example, the Physician Executive MBA program at UT-Knoxville takes only one year to complete, focuses entirely on healthcare contexts, and combines four weeklong residence periods on campus with 40 Web-based classes, typically on Saturday mornings.