The Emergence of the Physician Leader

Administrative MedicineWhat do the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, the Geisinger Health System, and Partners HealthCare have in common? Yes, they are all well-known and highly prestigious healthcare organizations that provide cutting-edge medical care to millions of patients every year. What you may not know, however, is that each of these institutions is led by actual physicians. Though traditionally not thought of as having business leadership skills, physicians are transitioning into management roles in ever-increasing numbers. The rise of the physician leader is a response to the many significant changes that have taken place in the healthcare industry in recent years. For example, healthcare spending in the United States currently constitutes approximately 20 percent of GDP – the highest of any country according to The World Bank. Crushing costs, combined with other emerging challenges such as a rapidly aging population and the explosive growth of medical knowledge, have opened up C-suite opportunities for physicians who possess both clinical skills and leadership acumen.

It is now common for a physician looking to take on a leadership role to seek out formal business training. Dozens of universities across the United States have even developed specialized MBA programs tailored for medical doctors. Possessing an MBA in addition to a medical degree can help set a candidate apart for a leadership position, and indeed, more and more healthcare organizations actively seek to fill senior executive positions with individuals who have both business and medical training.

Another highly effective way for a physician to demonstrate to a prospective employer that he or she possesses a thorough understanding of the business side of medicine is to become board certified through the American Board of Administration Medicine℠. A Member Board of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), the ABAM was developed to formally recognize physicians with experience in business leadership and management. ABAM Diplomates include physicians who manage their own practices as well as physician CEOs who lead large hospitals and other healthcare organizations. By becoming board certified through the ABAM, a physician leader is able to demonstrate that he or she has a highly valuable skill set that will only continue to grow in importance as the healthcare industry becomes more complex. Eligible candidates must have either an MBA in business administration, health administration, or medical management, or at least five years of cumulative experience in an administrative position. All eligibility requirements, exam description, exam schedule, and fees are available here.

Like it or not, the healthcare industry is rapidly changing. Critical to the goal of providing high-quality yet affordable care to millions of people across America is effective leadership from medical doctors who have the ability to steer the industry in the right direction. Legislative reform has opened up many opportunities for physician leaders to leverage their unique skill sets for the benefit of healthcare organizations and the people they serve. Do you have what it takes to thrive in a leadership role?

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Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

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
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