It's often been said that every physician thinks he or she is God or at least likes to play God. So when a physician decides to become an executive, wouldn't that be a step down? Maybe that's why many physicians see no problem with trying to run a hospital system or a national health insurance company or even the most powerful country on earth. What's the big deal, right?
Looking at this magazine's first annual ranking of the 50 Most Powerful Physician Executives in Healthcare, there is no shortage of confident physicians who believe they can do just about anything. They're running hospital systems, the U.S. Senate, federal health agencies, patient advocacy groups, health insurance companies, unions, associations, prestigious journals and academic programs. And, as you can read in this issue's cover story, they're performing their duties quite well.
It's also been said that physicians don't necessarily have the ideal set of managerial skills to become effective executives, leaning instead toward the independent and autocratic style of leadership. Consensus building is for wimps! To help prepare some physicians who desire a management career, the American College of Physician Executives has launched an educational program under which a physician can become a "certified physician-executive," or CPE. As reporter Michael Romano points out in this issue's feature story (p. 8), there is some question as to the rigor of the program that earns eager doctors a CPE certificate. Still, any physician who believes he or she can still learn something is a step in the right direction.
And, there is a lot the healthcare industry can learn from the physicians who made our list of the 50 Most Powerful Physician Executives. Ron Anderson, M.D., who tops the list, beat back a politically motivated attempt by several of his board members to oust him as president and CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas. And despite leading the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Julie Gerberding, M.D., somehow finds the time to visit patients and teach residents at San Francisco General Hospital each year, keeping her in touch with those whom her federal agency ultimately serves.
Here's how we compiled the ranking. Modern Physician announced its inaugural 50 Most Powerful Physician Executives in Healthcare recognition program on Feb. 21. From Feb. 28 through March 25, readers nominated 1,100 candidates for the honor on the magazine's Web site, modernphysician.com. Modern Physician then placed the 100 physician-executives who received the most nominations on a final ballot, also posted on the Web site. From April 4 to May 6, readers visiting the site cast 3,141 votes for the candidate who they believe should make the final list. The 50 physician-executives who received the most votes made the final list, with the ranking determined by number of votes received. The magazine reserved the right to resolve voting irregularities.
Jay Greene, a former reporter for Modern Healthcare, Modern Physician's sister publication, and now a freelance healthcare writer based in St. Paul, Minn., wrote the cover story based on the final ranking. You can reach Greene at [email protected]
If you have any comments or questions about the results or the survey process, please contact me at David Burda, editor, Modern Physician, 360 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60601; or by e-mail at [email protected] Thank you.