The Role of Physician Leadership in 21st Century Healthcare Administration Described by Richard L. Paula, MD, CPE

Richard L. Paula, MD, CPEI am the Chief Medical Informatics Officer (CMIO) at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa, Florida. My office engages with technology deployed for patient care—primarily the electronic medical record (EMR), but also hardware devices, biomedical devices such as ventilators and anesthesia machines. It is the responsibility of the CMIO to ensure that clinical workflows are conducive to great patient care, and our mission is to use technology to make it easier to care for patients.

If you had asked me early in my career if I was interested in becoming a full-time healthcare system executive, I would have said you were crazy. I genuinely enjoyed caring for patients, as well as teaching residents and medical students. I transitioned to a physician executive over a period of five years. It was a move borne out of a desire to improve patient flow in our emergency department. I was heavily involved in using data-driven process improvement to care for patients better and faster, which led to a department-specific EMR and then to a hospital-wide EMR.

When I started as CMIO, I attempted to work clinically and fulfill my executive role simultaneously. It did not work. The demands of my administrative role meant I had to work long hours, which then diminished my ability to work clinically. As I worked less clinically, I decided to dedicate my career to being a highly effective physician executive. I pursued professional development as a physician executive and obtained further education and training, just as I did in my path to becoming a board-certified Emergency Physician years earlier.

Why Physician Leadership Is Important

Physicians who transition from clinical care to leadership roles in healthcare administration have the benefit of direct patient care. Life and death decisions bring a great moral weight that you carry with you permanently. Physician executives must make decisions that benefit our patients and caregivers as well as the bottom line of the organization. For instance, when I am working with the chief medical officer, my role is to focus on the technology and assist her with that, but I am always thinking, “Is this going to improve patient care and make patients healthier?” When I talk to medical staff, I explain to them why certain decisions were made and why we are occasionally required compromise.

Once I became committed to my full-time physician executive role, I was determined to demonstrate my dedication to my new career path. This involved extra training and education in hospital finance, negotiation, HR training, accounting, and budgeting. I earned a CPE (certified physician executive) designation and was excited to see that the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) had developed the American Board of Administrative Medicine (ABAM) to offer board certification to physicians with proven expertise in nonclinical medicine. Board certification with the ABAM is a perfect fit for physicians seeking professional development and validation of their efforts.

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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.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine