One area of physician engagement that is sometimes overlooked is how many of today’s medical doctors want to play a role in leadership. With the ongoing physician shortage and unsustainable turnover rates in many healthcare organizations, developing plans to provide physician staff with development opportunities can be utilized to stem the effects of burnout and improve their engagement in the work environment. A May 2019 poll conducted by Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), queried a broad spectrum of healthcare leaders and an astounding 67% of respondents replied that they provide no leadership coaching to their clinicians.
That gap in responses represents a huge missed opportunity for healthcare organizations that are battling recruitment and retention problems. In a recent Jackson Physician Search survey of physicians, an impressive 43% of physicians responded that more autonomy would be an important attribute to their career. One way for administrators to feed into the physician’s need for more autonomy is to provide them with leadership training and growth opportunities. In that same Jackson Physician Search survey, physician’s listed participatory decision making and autonomy as two of the top three attributes for a positive organizational culture. 14% of the physicians that took the survey indicated that leadership opportunities are the most influential recruiting incentive. Let’s examine four keys to developing physician leadership.
- Develop a clear understanding of each physician’s strengths and weaknesses. In the business world, it is a common practice to identify the traits of the leadership team through the utilization of comprehensive assessments. Often referred to as 360- degree assessments, information is collected about team members through surveys and self-assessments. This process will not only identify the physicians with natural leadership skills and instincts, but it will also identify those that are not interested in pursuing leadership opportunities and may provide clues to other initiatives that will lead to better physician engagement.
- Design a program that works within your organization. Not all leadership development programs are going to look the same. In an article published by the American College of CHEST Physicians, one of the established best practices for creating a leadership program is to ensure it is developed as part of the organization’s overall strategic plan. Some organizations may be equipped or even prefer to handle all of the leadership training in-house while others are better suited to outsource leadership development to a third-party organization.
- Embrace Mentorship as part of the plan. Today, it is fairly common for younger physicians to already be connected to a mentor. That may or may not continue as the physician progresses throughout their career. As a component of a leadership development program, physician mentorship should not only be encouraged, administrators should help facilitate the process as much as possible. Mentorship between an existing physician leader and one who is in the process of developing the skills and experiences necessary to take on a leadership role is a perfect complement to the formal coaching they are receiving.
- Create skill-building opportunities. Leadership development is as much about formal coaching and exposure to leadership concepts and best practices as it is about actual real-world experiences. Providing tangible leadership opportunities cannot just be after program completion, they must be “baked in” along the way as much as possible. In the early stages, leadership program participants can participate as part of search or review committees or membership on a task force. Allowing “trainees” to see how the skills they are developing works in actual organizational settings is a key component of growth. Additionally, exposing them to other organizational leaders early on allows them to develop a fuller picture of themselves as a future leader.
Organizational leadership is the foundation of the culture that exists in every aspect of the workplace. Developing personal and professional growth opportunities within the physician ranks will go a long way toward cultivating physician engagement and can ensure that future organizational leadership can come from within.
Jackson Physician Search leadership has decades of proven healthcare industry expertise. From developing recruiting and retention plans to understanding and improving your organizational culture, Jackson Physician Search has teams of professionals to help you tackle your toughest challenges. Contact us today to learn more about ways we can help you thrive.