Five Musts for Recruiting, Retaining Physician Leaders: Part 1

Posted on Tue, Oct 08, 2013

In this 2-part series, EmCare's South Division executive vice president Joel Stern, MD, FACEP, FAAEM shares the secret to identify and develop strong physician leaders.

The #1 secret to selecting effective medical leaders

Selecting physicians for leadership roles requires a hands-on approach, getting to know the attitudes and motivations of the person and not just the skill set.  Physicians who seek to become leaders must first understand they are not flying solo. They rely on the engagement and actions of others to effect change and improve performance.  Decisions become more complex as they must be made in a way that reflects what is best for the whole instead of the part. Thought processes evolve from a single line with sequential processes to a kaleidoscope with numerous parallel processes.

From caring for patients to caring for those you lead

To build a successful team, great physician leaders must be comfortable showing they care about every person on it.  As John C. Maxwell said, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  There’s no pretending.  People know when you genuinely care.  They appreciate it and respect you for it. And, it’s often the little things that count.  Make sure they are happy with their schedule, treat people fairly, inspire learning, be consistent and clear, provide support that gives them confidence, etc.

Balancing the needs of many stakeholders

Good leaders must constantly think about the team and what’s best for everyone. Many reports about employee turnover cite ‘not getting along with the boss’ as the top reason people leave a job.  With the physician shortage becoming an increasingly critical factor, you don’t want to be your own worst enemy and lose good people.

Of course, being a good leader can also mean recognizing when you have to get the wrong people off the team.  Everyone is relying on you to build a strong, effective team and a productive work environment.

Physician leaders have a lot to balance in considering the needs of many stakeholders: patients, families, clinical teams, administration, the community, etc.  A physician leader must have the desire and ability to simultaneously ensure the effective operation of the team, the hospital and the company in providing high-quality patient care. It’s also important for medical leaders to be aligned with the interests of the entire hospital in improving care to the patient. 

OLP_3364.jpgAbout Dr. Stern: Joel Stern, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, serves as an executive vice president with EmCare’s South Division.  His experience in clinical leadership roles includes various medical director and assistant director positions in hospitals ranging from moderate volume suburban settings to high volume urban sites. Dr. Stern is a past president and founder of the Florida State Chapter of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (FLAAEM) and currently serves as a Past Presidents Council Representative for the FLAAEM Board of Directors.  He is also on the Board of Directors of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians where he has held numerous leadership positions.

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