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January 25, 2024

Building physician leaders

Becoming a physician leader - whether that takes the shape of a medical director, department head or chief medical officer (CMO) - is a natural next step for those who are interested in combining their clinical expertise with the ability to drive positive administrative change within healthcare organizations.

What role can a recruiter play in creating the next generation of physician leaders?

Recruit standout candidates

The American Association for Physician Leadership, the largest educational organization focused on physicians who hold leadership and management positions, states that their core belief is that "all physicians are leaders."  While this statement is undoubtedly true, how can recruiters overcome the obstacle of finding standout candidates with even more specialized leadership qualities?

First, seek out candidates who possess strong communication and organizational skills, an inherent sense of empathy and adaptability and an interest in collaborating with multiple teams within a healthcare organization. Next, and perhaps most importantly, seek out candidates who are aware that their role as a leader extends beyond the office, as physician leaders are always encouraged to play an active and positive role within their community.

Highlight mentorship opportunities

Encourage candidates to seek mentorship opportunities with those who have extensive experience in physician leadership.  Whether the opportunity is part of a formal mentoring program or an informal pairing, seek out medical facilities that could provide potential mentor placements with an opportunity that could provide invaluable insight into the role of a physician leader.

Help candidates prepare for leadership interviews

While collaborating on interview prep, encourage candidates to emphasize positive aspects of both their personality and their clinical history which highlights their natural skills at being a leader.  A proven track record of collaboration, the ability to navigate conflicts, and fostering an inclusive environment should all be mentioned during the interview process.

Create pathways to leadership

Highlight a clear pathway for a potential physician hire to transition into a leadership role at their new healthcare facility.  Whether that takes the shape of specific assignments that will expose them to different facets of healthcare (operations, finance and billing, legal, quality improvement, etc.) or with the aforementioned arrangement of studying under a mentor, providing a clear pathway to leadership will certainly be enticing to those wanting to pursue a physician leadership position.

Encourage additional training

While many of the leadership skills needed to succeed as a physician leader can be gained while working in a medical environment, the pursuit of further education or leadership-specific training should always be encouraged.  There are endless courses, coaches and workshops that can expose a candidate to crucial skills and traits they will need to eventually master, such as conflict resolution, stress management, effective communication and decisive decision-making.

Embrace the journey

The role a recruiter plays in creating a physician leader cannot be understated.  They are an integral part of the process, from first recruiting the correct candidates to ultimately placing that candidate in a position where they can either immediately or eventually thrive as a true leader. Every step of the process becomes one piece of the larger and more important puzzle of a candidate finding their voice, then using that voice to improve the quality of patient care - even possibly changing the future of the overall healthcare industry in a positive way.


Read PracticeLink articles from Stephen Leggitt

Stephen Leggitt

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