Take humble, helpful path to leadership, cardiologist advises

Mark Burket, MD, director of vascular medicine at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio, discussed his career journey and shared his top advice for emerging physician leaders during a recent episode of the Becker's Healthcare cardiology podcast.

Here is an excerpt from the podcast. Click here to download the full episode.

Editor's note: This response was lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: Can you share three pieces of advice for emerging physician leaders today? 

Dr. Mark Burket: One of the most important things that I would pass on, if somebody is just getting into leadership, is to think about the long game of your career. Instead of looking at what can get me the most money or the most recognition right now, think in terms of the people that you interact with now — some of those people you're going to be interacting with throughout your entire career. At our cardiovascular practice, I remember one physician in particular who was moving on to another practice. And before he left, he volunteered for extra work. He did so much that he didn't need to because he was leaving the practice. But I can tell you if he ever wanted to come back to the practice, we would have taken him in a heartbeat. Go through your career with that mindset of how you can help other people and realize that down the road, they may be in some other environment where you may want to collaborate or interact with them. So make sure that you help people along the way and don't worry about what it's going to do to your career or to your finances. 

Of all the careers, medicine is one that really can bring out the haughtiness or pride in people. And I think for a young leader, you really need to avoid that like the plague. Pride is something that's very hard to recognize in ourselves, but other people recognize it in us instantly, and it's universally despised. It's really important to have a realistic look at yourself and not exalt yourself. For any leader, you really want to pursue genuine humility, not false humility. 

When you're in a leadership position, sometimes it's hard to come up with the best idea for somebody to do something, but a lot of times people will have an interest or a desire or a passion, and they are motivated to do that on their own. One of the most important things you can do in leadership is to foster the opportunities for other people to do that. You don't want to put barriers in the way of people running with a good idea.

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