Academic journal article Journal of Healthcare Management

Developing Physician Leaders through Professional Associations

Academic journal article Journal of Healthcare Management

Developing Physician Leaders through Professional Associations

Article excerpt

The call for physician leadership development is becoming more insistent in the face of increasing costs, demand for services, and the appearance of new payment models (Morrissey, 2015). Senior leaders are in an ideal position to help physicians succeed in leadership, in part by promoting the benefits of membership in national associations. Professional membership organizations enhance career advancement in numerous ways that factor into physicians' successful transition to leadership roles.


As I have witnessed at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta, physicians in leadership are uniquely poised to support system-wide initiatives by engaging medical colleagues in planning and other meaningful activities. Physician engagement is increasingly recognized as critical to change implementation. Furthermore, physician leaders are increasingly joining the ranks of chief executives and operating officers.

To align themselves with the healing mission and ethical imperative of medicine, physicians need compassion and an attitude of hopefulness, traits that are found in what Stoller (2009) refers to as "resonant leaders." Senior healthcare leaders will recognize resonant leadership as the "use [of] emotional and social intelligence skills to renew themselves, create positive relationships, and foster a healthy, vibrant environment to engage others toward a common goal" (Teleos Leadership Institute, 2015).


A number of associations offer professional development for physicians who

* want to have a broader impact industry-wide;

* want to develop management skills in areas such as leading quality initiatives, collaborating on clinical and administration efforts, and improving interdisciplinary communications;

* hold, or are seeking, leadership and management positions and want to boost their effectiveness; or

* wish to advance excellence in patient care in collaboration with a national body of like-minded professionals.

Through associations, physicians can strengthen their ability to effectively lead both clinical and nonclinical healthcare colleagues and advance as leaders in the healthcare delivery system.

The primary organizations that serve these purposes are the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL); the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), in part through its Physician Executives Forum; and the American Hospital Association's Physician Leadership Forum.

American Association for Physician Leadership

AAPL is a professional organization of approximately 11,000 physician members that is dedicated to leadership development. The association changed its name from the American College of Physician Executives in September 2014 to expand its scope to all physicians with leadership aspirations regardless of executive status. AAPL provides excellent educational programs, career support, networking opportunities, and legislative advocacy. It has a physician executive certification program and offers a path for advancing to Fellow status in the organization, as well as its Physician Leadership Development Program. Educational offerings also include master's degree programs in medical management, business administration, and healthcare quality and safety management.

Membership in AAPL (2015) comes with access to publications that provide insights to help physicians "join the ranks of thought leaders in health care." It encourages members to expand their influence beyond clinical practice to the leadership sphere.

American College of Healthcare Executives

ACHE (2015) is a professional healthcare leadership organization with approximately 37,000 members, of whom more than 1,600 are physicians. The Physician Executives Forum of ACHE (2015) serves these members with a quarterly newsletter, educational offerings targeting physicians, and networking opportunities. …

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