Physicians talk on transition from clinical practice to C-suite
Editor's Note: In our Sept. 28 issue, Modern Physician exclusively reported the results of the Physician Executive Management Center's annual survey of chief medical officers. Below, David Kirschman, PEMC's president, reports and comments on some of the survey's findings regarding the career decisions made by chief medical officers.
The following are the opinions of physicians currently serving in CMO roles in healthcare delivery organizations regarding their careers as physician-executives, and what it takes to be successful. This information was gleaned from the responses to our 2008-09 Survey of Chief Medical Officers.
On deciding to become a physician-executive:
Why did they transition from clinical to management? When did they begin to consider such a move? How did they prepare for the transition? Was it a good move for them? Why?
51% made the move to have a greater impact, make a difference.
24% were seeking new professional challenges.
Although some respondents had been unhappy with clinical activities, most were not, and they did not make this career transition because of dissatisfaction with their professional duties as physicians. When?
53% made the move after 10 years or more of practice.
32% after only a few years of clinical practice.
CMOs in managed-care organizations tended to have made the decision earlier in their careers. Few respondents in any organization made the decision as a retirement strategy. How?
58% said on-the-job training was the most important preparation.
25% thought that an advanced management was the most important preparation.
Even though over 50% of CMOs possess a management degree, their most important preparation was actually working in a leadership position, likely in a volunteer capacity. And so?
71% said becoming a physician-executive was the best decision they ever made in their career.
None of the respondents felt that the move to management was a bad decision, nor apparently regretted the move.
On functioning as a CMO:
Advice to colleagues, value of using mentors, good parts of the job, bad parts of the job, how they like their current positions. Advice?
77% would advise other interested physicians to begin serving in management or leadership roles while maintaining clinical activities.
An advanced management degree was rarely chosen as a first priority for aspiring physician-executives. Mentoring?
50% had no mentor when they began as a physician-executive.
60% thought that having a mentor is a positive situation.
CMOs in group practice were more likely to have and appreciate a mentor. Positives?
63% said the best part of the job is having a positive impact on quality
Another positive aspect of the position cited was a sense of accomplishment as a result of their work. Negatives?
47% thought that the worst part of the job was the slow pace of bureaucracy, delays.
Also cited as a negative was too many meetings.
87% liked their current jobs considerably.
85% feel they have a positive impact on their organizations.
These physicians enjoy their jobs as CMOs and feel they truly make a difference, which was a goal of many when they originally decided to make a career change.
On personal styles as managers …
How they work, what skills are most important, what characteristics are most important for success. Style?
42% are always working and hard chargers.
30% see themselves as more medium-intensity managers.
Only a few of the respondents reported that they were “low-key” type managers. Skills?
57% feel communications and effective listening are the most important skills a CMO can possess.
Another common response was their ability as problem-solvers. Trust?
72% feel that they are trusted by constituents and possess integrity.
On their future …
Perceived biggest professional challenge, career goals. Challenge?
40% see change and growth as their biggest challenge over the next year in their current jobs.
Financial issues were also mentioned, but to a lesser degree. Goals?
70% hope to continue in a CMO role, either locally or elsewhere.
30% would like to become a chief operating officer or CEO.
David KirschmanPresidentPhysician Executive Management CenterTampa, Fla.
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