PracticeLink Magazine

Winter 2019

The career development quarterly for physicians of all specialties, PracticeLink Magazine provides readers with feature articles, compensation stats, helpful job search tips—as well as recruitment ads from organizations across the U.S.

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42 W INTER 2019 PracticeLink.com features program at University of California, Irvine and president of the Paul Merage School of Business Association of MD/MBA Programs. "But this is a disservice to medical students. We're telling them [clinical education] is all you need, yet it's not true." This focus on direct patient care is admirable, but it may be shortsighted. Chandler believes management training helps physicians care more effectively for patients. For example, physicians with business knowledge can be better advocates for clinical priorities. She explains, "If you're interested in preventing chronic disease, you can learn to make the economic case for that." That's one reason Chandler advises all physicians to learn some leadership basics. She says they should do so "as early in their careers as possible." Once there's an "M.D." or "D. o ." after your name, people will expect you to guide them, regardless of your age. Many of these people — including the nurses, MAs and other staff you'll work alongside — provide essential support for patient care. Working well with this team will require training you didn't receive in medical school, and some of what you learned might even be counterproductive. Unlearning the superhero myth According to Dike Drummond, M.D., C eo of TheHappyMD.com, many physicians enter the workforce with misguided expectations. "In medical school and residency, there are no leadership courses. You learn by osmosis, and here's how it works: you see patients, reach a diagnosis and write orders, and the rest of the care team waits on you," explains Drummond. "You're taught subconsciously that only you have the answers. But what kind of leadership style is that for team-based care?" As a result, Drummond says that most doctors i nter na l i ze a "Lone R a nger, workaholic, superhero, perfectionist ideal" in medical school. This mindset not only burdens physicians; it also makes it harder for staff to help. Nurses and others will follow your lead. If they're always waiting for your orders, they'll be underutilized and probably less motivated, too. And when staff members don't feel supported as part of the care team, patient safety can be affected. "It's been proven in numerous studies that a lot of people feel too intimidated to say anything to a physician — even if it's a life-threatening issue," adds Chandler. "Leadership training can help physicians learn to create an atmosphere of teamwork." In a culture where staff feel comfortable raising concerns, patient care improves. To build team leadership skills as a physician, Drummond says the critical first step is learning to listen and ask questions. "Your staff can always help," he explains. "They want to help. But they're not going to elbow you out of the way." Once you start asking staff how they can assist, Drummond says they'll likely respond with many useful ideas. When you enable them to take on more meaningful roles, they'll be happier and more engaged, too. That means more support and less stress for you as a physician, more attention for your patients and higher career satisfaction for the entire team. New clinical and economic approaches are making the ability to lead diverse teams more critical than ever. Patient-centered medical homes require high-performing care teams, and alternative reimbursement models —with evolving definitions of value and quality — require physicians to lead change, sometimes in tandem with administrators. Chandler says physicians don't always see these opportunities as being directly tied to patient care. "Many doctors think of taking on leadership responsibilities and roles like serving on committees as a chore," she says. "All some of us want to do is see patients — like a surgeon who's tied up in an o R 80 hours a week and inadvertently gives up their input." But she says by getting involved in leadership, Staff will look up to you and expect you to lead the way, and your employers will rely on you to guide new initiatives and solve problems.

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