Patrick Cawley, MD, MBA, MHM, a past president of SHM and a recipient of its prestigious Master of Hospital Medicine award, has been named vice president for clinical operations and executive director of the Medical University Hospital Authority at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston.
“What distinguished Dr. Cawley from the rest of the field is his intimate knowledge of MUSC, his medical expertise combined with graduate education in management, and his track record of improving our performance in quality and patient safety,” says Raymond S. Greenberg, MD, PhD, and president of MUSC. “Given his familiarity with the issues here, Dr. Cawley can step in quickly to assume his new responsibilities. He’s already demonstrating steady and thoughtful leadership.”
Dr. Cawley took his first leadership course 15 years ago. That led to other courses on such topics as marketing and finance, and that led to his earning a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Just like medicine, you never stop learning in business or trying to do things better,” he says.
Dr. Cawley says hospitalists have a leg up on other physicians when it comes to moving into hospital administration. “Being a hospitalist allowed me to get into every nook and cranny of this hospital,” he says. He advises other hospitalists interested in this path to seek out progressive leadership roles. “Show what you can do,” he says, “and get that management degree.”
As Dr. Cawley’s administrative responsibilities continue to expand, the time he spends in clinical practice continues to decrease. Although he plans to give up clinical work for the crucial first six months in his new position, he says he hopes to return to hospitalist practice at least 10% of the time after that.
“Any CEO worth his or her salt goes out to the front lines to see what is happening,” Dr. Cawley notes. “As a physician, it is easier to get to those front lines. Once there, you get a feel for how the hospital really runs.”