Hospitalist Group Leaders Need Not Work Clinical Shifts to Achieve Respect
The “Survey Insights” article by Dr. Rachel Lovins (“Physician Practice Leaders,” November 2013) makes excellent points about the importance of leadership in hospital medicine groups but perpetuates a fallacy that undercuts the effectiveness of physician leaders. Dr. Lovins states that hospitalist leaders need to work as clinical hospitalists to achieve respect. Consider the example of professional sports, where athletes are highly skilled and earn more than doctors, but the concept of a player/coach has essentially disappeared. The difference is that athletes understand that they are playing on a team that needs a cohesive vision to succeed. They value the insights of a coach who can watch their performance from the sidelines and help them improve, even though that person’s own playing skills may have been undistinguished.
Dr. Lovins states that hospitalist leaders need to experience firsthand the frustrations of hospital practice. Would it not be better to replace anecdotal evidence with systematic communication and analysis of experiences from the entire group? The demand by physicians that their leaders be active clinicians is really a way to ensure that those individuals are unable to secure the time and perspective needed to become effective coaches, and it encroaches upon the autonomy of the individuals.
HM cannot achieve its potential until it develops leaders who can move beyond the level of chief resident and engage meaningfully with the concerns of senior hospital leaders to drive the performance of their teams. Hospitalists must understand that they are part of an organization that will be led by persons with different skill sets than those required to diagnose and treat disease.
—Richard Rohr, MD, SFHM, team leader, United Health Group, Broomall, Pa.