3 key skills clinicians need in executive roles

Physicians and nurses are increasingly being called upon to provide leadership and guidance in hospitals, as well as in emerging healthcare enterprises, as the industry transforms under reform and adopts value-based delivery models.

While clinicians are assuming more influence in the business of healthcare, certain skills are required to be an effective leader in addition to clinical expertise, according to the Harvard Business Review.

1. Operations management. Physicians and nurses typically possess the skills necessary to effectively lead operations management because its complex nature and demand for attention to detail is also required to effectively manage a large clinical load, according to Harvard Business Review.

However, many clinicians face difficulties with operations management because they are unable to distinguish between urgent and non-urgent tasks, often causing non-urgent duties to fall off their radar. Clinician leaders should anticipate this perspective gap and ensure tasks are appropriately triaged and executed by priority level, according to the report.

2. Leading others. Clinicians often don't have experience with hiring, firing or managing employees' performance, and their instincts of when to do so are likely underdeveloped as a result, according to the report. To develop these essential people-management skills and identify tactics to help employees improve performance, clinicians can seek counsel from other business leaders as well as human resource professionals.

3. Defining and implementing strategy. Clinical leaders are often drawn to roles in which they can participate in the development of organizational structure and strategy because these roles tap into their expertise and front-line knowledge, according to the report. However, many nurse and physician executives have a hard time reconciling the tradeoff inherent in building a strategy — it is both what we choose to do and what we choose not to do, according to Michael Porter, PhD, of the Harvard Business School. By keeping this in mind, clinicians can more effectively determine and implement organizational strategies.

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