Pennsylvania Hospital CMO Dr. Daniel Feinberg's advice for aspiring physician leaders

Daniel Feinberg, MD, chief medical officer of Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Hospital, sees the CMO role becoming more operational in the next few years.

He joined the Becker's Healthcare Podcast to share his thoughts on physician leaders and career advice for clinicians who aim to hold an executive role.

Click here to listen to the entire podcast.

Question: How is your role as chief medical officer evolving?

Dr. Daniel Feinberg: The role of the CMO has shifted from the quality, safety, regulatory person to more operational. As an example, I'm very involved in clinical informatics. Years ago, I was the lead physician for four hospitals for Tenet at the time that went live with Epic's EHR. I now oversee about 100 advanced practice providers, and I supervise and oversee our case management and social work program.

Physician executives have more operational responsibilities than they did in the past, and I see the COO and CFO as much more integral partners, much like I would have seen the CNO in the past.

Q: What are your three pieces of advice for future leaders?

DF: The most important thing for emerging leaders is to be collaborative and to always be looking for opportunities to collaborate with people who are not natural partners. For physician leaders particularly, it might be someone in finance or the accounting department who may not be a natural partner for physician leaders but who is critical for identifying opportunities that require investments from the hospital or health system.

No. 2, I would say is to be really open to feedback. It's helped me a great deal in my career, and it's helped me manage my own department in a very different way in the past two years as compared to a decade ago. I try to maintain really open lines of communication and use feedback as a tool to help us all improve and not as a tool for criticism. I like giving positive feedback and receiving positive feedback, like most of us do, but I also talk about opportunities for improvement and really with the goal and full intent of making us all better.

No. 3, is always say yes when asked to think about something that isn't directly in your line of work or span of control. Maybe it's a stretch assignment, maybe it's something a little outside of our comfort zone. I've always found that saying yes to those opportunities has proved to be very valuable in my career. I'll use the Epic EHR example as a prime example. Someone said to me, 'Are you interested in getting involved in some of the informatics work that we're doing?' I thought it linked so clearly with some of the quality and safety work that I was doing as the patient safety officer that I expressed interest, became knowledgeable, got certification and then my impact really was much greater as a result. I took advantage of being connected to people in the IT world, and that helped us advance the EHR rollout and decision support that was used to improve quality.

We all have opportunities and are asked to think about getting involved in something that seems like a lot of extra work or something we don't need to do, but I found having an open mind to those things and exploring them with a lot of inquisitive behavior has helped me develop as a leader.


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