Physician Leaders Practicing Administrative Medicine Should Become Board Certified, According to Judy L. Smith, MD, MS, CPE, FACS

Judy L. Smith, MDPhysician leadership is critically important as health care evolves. Consider this from the television show “The Daily Briefing” on January 4, 2017: “What many top-ranked hospitals have in common: Physicians in the C-suite”. A 2011 study of the 100 best hospitals (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report) for cancer, digestive disorders, and cardiovascular care showed that hospitals run by physicians scored 25% higher on overall quality than those run by professionals with management backgrounds.

A physician’s clinical knowledge, when combined with leadership skills, can significantly effect change and transform health care. Physicians know and understand quality and safety on a personal level; defects in quality affect people with whom they have a direct relationship. They understand healthcare operations intimately, including the difficulties that patients, front-line healthcare workers, and the support staff have in making sense of how care is delivered. They understand the struggles and motivating factors for other physicians and colleagues. Efficiency is not just a “corporate imperative” but also a personal and professional duty. The lives of the physician’s family, patients, and the entire team depend on the practice and its ability to be fiscally prudent and financially secure.

Add the medical culture of research, education, and innovation to these clinical and operational skills and a powerful opportunity to create profound and beneficial changes emerges: the Physician Leader.

Leadership opportunities for physicians have expanded greatly over the past few decades. Clinical team leader, department chair, division chief, training directors, chief medical officer, VPMA, and other medical directorships are still critical roles in which many physician leaders excel and have a positive impact on health care. Newer or less traditional roles now count physicians in their ranks. Physician leaders are now found in all of the roles of the C-Suite both in hospital and insurance systems. Physicians hold the titles of CEO, CFO, COO, and many others.

Physician leadership is not for everyone. Once you decide you want to explore leadership opportunities you will need to learn new skills that may include finance, human resources, operations, quality and safety, quality improvement, strategy, and health law. Achieving an advanced degree (MBA, MMM, or similar) is the most effective and most common route but will take time from family and friends and can be challenging while also practicing medicine.

Physician leaders must understand and be comfortable in a new environment and culture. The move from a clinical team/practice to a corporate or departmental organizational structure can be jarring and difficult, but also enlightening, empowering, and exciting!

Once you have made the leap to becoming a physician leader, it is important to have recognition. For physicians, board certification demonstrates excellence and commitment to one’s specialty. Administrative medicine is in fact a specialty for which you have worked hard and gained specialty training. The American Board of Administrative Medicine (ABAM) through the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) provides nationally recognized board certification.

If you’re a physician leader interested in become board certified in administrative medicine, contact the ABPS. Board certification with the ABAM can provide your medical and administrative colleagues with the assurance that you have the knowledge, commitment, and background to excel in a leadership role.

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On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine