Growing Physician Leaders (RosettaBooks)

General Mark Hertling (ret.)

General Mark Hertling (ret.)

The Florida Hospital system hired General Mark Hertling (ret.) to create its Physician Leader Development (PLD) Program, based on what he learned, taught and practiced as a general in the U.S. Army. Using the concepts contained in the Army Leadership Manual, he and his colleagues enrolled physicians, other clinicians and hospital administrators in the program, and achieved “catastrophic success” according to the book jacket.

Growing Physician Leaders: Empowering Doctors to Improve Our Healthcare recounts his experiences producing and delivering the program. The book contains a summary of the basic components of the program, and stories and anecdotes that highlight parts of the program.

The material makes for an interesting and enjoyable read. In addition to describing some of the content of  the program, each chapter is followed by a “War Story” that helps to illustrate the concepts the author is trying to explain. Much of the material includes historical references, which are enlightening and interesting.

He starts in the first chapter describing why physicians need to lead.

It’s not that physicians don’t want to lead. They do…

The problem is that medical schools don’t teach leadership skills…

Later chapters describe the author’s take on the concept of professionalism, and other lessons that need to be learned. He devotes Chapter 4 to a discussion of Dyadic Leadership, or “leading one before leading many.” He speaks of the importance of trust and perspective. He describes leadership building exercises that the PLD program used. Along the way he describes the Army’s model, which is based on a set of core “Attributes and Competencies.”

Each chapter ends with “Questions for Reflection and Discussion.” Reviewing each, I think they are appropriate and thought-provoking for any physician leader, but especially for the physician executive working in a large hospital or health system.

Readers will not be able to design their own physician leadership training program based on this book. It is not a “how-to” manual. But it will provide an incentive to do so, and evidence that it can be rewarding and valuable to a hospital system.

Here is my “Star Rating” on the book (on a scale of 1 to 5):


The rating scale is my own and based on:

  • Readability – my impression of how easy it is to read and the absence of confusing or inconsistent content.
  • Applicability – the material is directly (5), indirectly (3) or only peripherally (1) applicable to the physician executive.
  • Practical – the material can be applied directly through policies or tactics (5), or is more theoretical or philosophical (1 or 2).
  • Popularity – this is the score on Amazon at the time of this post.
  • Overall – the average of the other 4 scores.

In summary, it is a very good book. Its strength lies in its perspective, optimism, and clarity around important leadership principles. It is easy and enjoyable to read. I recommend it for physician executives. You can buy it here: Growing Physician Leaders

Note that this is an affiliate link, so I get a small commission if you buy it (the price is exactly the same).

Let me know if you disagree.

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