Julie waited patiently in the small waiting area in the administrative suite. As the Director for Inpatient Nursing Services , it was time for her biweekly meeting with Patricia (Pat), the Chief Nursing Officer. Pat opened the door to her office and motioned for Julie to come in and sit down. As she did, Pat recalled the lecture she attended the previous year about how to evaluate direct reports, and the subsequent adoption of their new process.
It was early August, and Julie and Pat had already received the most recent update on Julie’s balanced scorecard. The scorecard listed four key responsibilities as well as the three goals she and Janice had agreed upon at the beginning of the year. The scorecard contained data through the second quarter, ending June 30.
After some small talk, and briefly discussing a new manager on one of Julie’s units, they shifted their conversation to Julie’s scorecard. During the previous year the entire organization had implement this formal, objective evaluation process as a pilot. It had worked well, so it had been officially implemented in January.
It’s time for the VITAL Physician Executive’s Monthly Leadership Favorites – March 2017 Edition. In this feature I share inspiring and enlightening advice from respected leaders, generally from outside of healthcare (but not always).
This month’s favorites follow…
This is the first time I am offering content from The Productive Physician. I have been following him for about 6 months.
I am sometimes asked: what does a CEO look for in a CMO? I’ve heard this discussed at the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) meetings and American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) meetings, and it was a topic of discussion during the week-long tutorial for the Certified Physician Executive (CPE) qualification. I’ve looked at dozens of job descriptions which also provides insight into identifying the essential abilities the CEO wants in a Chief Medical Officer.
There is no one set of skills or abilities, of course. Each organization and CEO will be looking for a set of skills to meet its unique needs. But there are some common themes.
After the hospitalist movement began, it wasn’t on the radar at our 300-bed hospital for many years. Robert Wachter and Lee Goldman made the case for dedicated hospital-based physicians years earlier. And as DRG payments failed to keep up with inflation, and inpatient care became more complicated and costly, it seemed our medical staff was not becoming any more efficient with inpatient care.
After making a commitment to write consistently at Vital Physician Executive, I quickly learned that writing regularly can be a daunting task. From topic selection, to creating content efficiently, it is a process that requires practice and a perseverence. I’ve sought to learn the keys to writing quickly and efficiently. I believe the effort has been worth it, because the written word is so important for inspiring, teaching, entertaining and engaging others.
Some years ago, a young African-American came to the realization that the key to escaping the poverty and hopelessness into which he had been born was to escape from illiteracy. Hence, he devoted much of his youth to educating himself. He not only learned to read, but to speak and write passionately and eloquently.
After moving from his birthplace in Maryland as a young man, he began to write about his experiences and found a following for his writings. Eventually, he published a book describing his life as a young black man in the U.S. Those writings and his speeches inspired thousands of persons who read them to join the movement that he had committed himself to.
His book, written and published at the age of 27, described in detail his life under, and escape from, slavery. It was published 16 years before the start of the U.S. Civil War, and made a meaningful contribution to the abolitionist movement that eventually ended slavery. That author was Frederick Douglass.
Great writing can have profound effects. It is an essential skill of any leader. Verbal communication is important. But writing serves as the basis for most important forms of lasting communication, even if the message is delivered in a speech. Whether writing a scientific presentation, book, white paper, or newsletter to our colleagues, it is a fundamental skill that must be learned.
The Chief Operating Officer and I were meeting one day, and the Director of the Laboratory was asked to join us to discuss a staff challenge she had been having. As the director for the laboratory, she reported to me. We met regularly to discuss progress on her goals, any issues with the medical staff, and the other usual challenges that might arise. I was hoping to learn more about using a leader’s two most important skills by observing my COO.
I was still learning the ropes about working with directors for critical hospital departments like the Laboratory. The COO was quite adept at sorting through difficult issues and building strong teams.
The lab director was very frustrated. She began talking about a particularly difficult employee who had repeatedly stirred up trouble in the department. Peter had been working as a laboratory technician for many years. Every few months it seemed he would be the center of some drama in the department. He would be “written up” and then not be heard from for several months until the next issue.
The employee had certain skills and certifications that would make him difficult to replace. So, in spite of his repeated involvement in various kerfuffles that impaired the morale of the department, he never received more than a slap on the wrist for his transgressions.
As healthcare executives, we must communicate clearly and effectively. This can be difficult at times. One-on-one communication is fairly straightforward. But how do we communicate regularly with dozens of physicians, hundreds of constituents, or thousands of patients? And how can it be done in a way that encourages a two-way dialogue? Perhaps healthcare executive blogging is the answer.
As chief medical officer, one of my primary challenges was connecting with the members of the medical staff. I regularly needed to inform them about initiatives undertaken by the organization, new mandates by accrediting agencies, upcoming staffing changes and dozens of other issues.
I recently read the book Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, by Jenny Blake. It presented a model for career transformation that can be applied by clinicians seeking to move from patient care to an executive position. In the paragraphs that follow, I am going to explain how her pivot method can help you launch a new career as a healthcare executive.
What is a Career Pivot?
The author defines a career pivot as “Doubling down on what is working to make a purposeful shift in a new related direction…an intentional methodical process for nimbly navigating career change.”
In Blake’s book, she notes that most career paths consist of a series of pivots. Based on her work as a career development professional for Google, her book provides many examples of career pivots. Many involve pivots to entrepreneurial ventures, but some also involve pivots within an organization.
I was sitting in a small conference room. Having worked full-time as hospital Chief Medical officer, I was now interviewing for a position in a larger institution. Midway through my interviews, I was talking with the hospital board chairman. He brought up the topic of hospital sentinel events. Apparently there had been a sentinel event at his organization and the chair and his board were quite concerned.
He explained that it was something they had not experienced before. They were upset that such an event could occur at their facility. He asked me to describe what I knew about hospital sentinel events and share some of my experiences.
OK – it’s time for another edition of VITAL Physician Executive’s Monthly Leadership Favorites. In this feature I share inspiring and enlightening advice from respected leaders, generally outside of the healthcare field.
This month’s favorites follow…
This month I am adding 20 blogs to my initial list, to present 50 physician authored blogs. You may recall that I posted my first list of 30 blogs at My Fascination with Physician-Authored Blogs. I’ve added twenty new sites. All 50 of them are included in this updated table. The new ones are listed at the top.
In the updated list, there are several that have more of a commercial bent. That is to say that they have been monetized to some extent.
Probably the ultimate example of this is KevinMD. This one is familiar to many of us. It is one of the longest running. I included a note that the “blogger” is an internal medicine specialist. That’s because it was founded by Kevin Pho, MD, an internist. However, anyone that has read its articles knows that it is actually a news blog that lists articles from hundreds of writers – many of whom are physicians.