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How 3 top health systems develop physician leaders in-house

March 27, 2017

    As the business of health care becomes increasingly tied to clinical outcomes, the demand for qualified physician leaders at hospitals and health systems now far outpaces the supply. With increased competition for experienced physician executives, it's more important than ever to be able to pull from an internal pool of physician talent.

    However, only 47% of health care organizations have a development pipeline for physician leaders. If you're thinking of building a leadership development program—or optimizing your own—read on to learn about three successful programs.

    BSWEEP: Baylor Scott & White's hands-on approach to leadership development

    Baylor Scott & White (BSW) Health's Executive Education Program (BSWEEP) has been a proven success. Even the system CMO is a graduate of the program! BSWEEP provides emerging leaders (e.g. physician and administrative supervisors, project-leads, committee members) with the opportunity to employ their business knowledge and prepare for future leadership roles. Taught by retired executive training faculty from the University of Texas, coursework focuses on both health care- and BSW-specific issues.

    BSWEEP's 13-month curriculum consists of 12 required sessions that include both course work and team-based projects. Here are the details:

    • BSWEEP coursework: Features accounting, marketing, psychology, advocacy, leadership, and finance.

    • Team-based projects: Six-person, multi-disciplinary teams complete one BSW-specific project and several complementary exercises across each of the two semesters. Examples include: Should we develop a Sleep Center near UMC or a Dialysis Center in Waco? What is the proper scale and timeline for constructing a new OR tower? Should we have a Mexico International Center and where should it be located?

    While BSW's program covers foundational business skills in its course work, other programs (like that at the Mayo Clinic) focus on "soft-skills" such as social capital and emotional intelligence.

    Cleveland Clinic: Offering a flexible leadership development curriculum

    While BSW has a fixed curriculum, Cleveland Clinic offers an optional leadership development program known as Cleveland Clinic Academy (CCA). CCA has a suite of offerings widely available to staff, including cohort-based learning and "a la carte" half- or full-day courses addressing specific competencies required to lead. Here are some specifics:

    • CCA Participation: Academy attendance is optional and is available to physicians, clinic faculty, physicians-in-training, nurses, and administrators with a master's degree or with more than 3 years of supervisory experience.

    • CCA Course Offerings: Between September 2008 and December 2012, CCA has offered 285 course sessions, focusing on topics such as collaboration and team-building.

    This leadership curriculum has successfully created a pipeline of health care leaders to fill executive positions, board openings, and other key positions at Cleveland Clinic.

    Northwell Health: A comprehensive approach to learning and innovation

    Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ) offers both optional classes and more structured programs for certain high potential constituencies, providing staff with a holistic set of leadership development options. The program is comprised of the following:

    • The Center for Learning and Innovation (CLI): CLI offers a wide variety of classes for employees of all levelsfrom physicians to food service workersto augment their management skills and understanding of the industry.

    • High Potential Program: A new, two-year track for physicians was created in 2011, giving physicians the opportunity to learn more about leadership and financeskills often missing from traditional medical education. Northwell has also built high potential programs for additional constituencies.

    All of these programs aim to help prepare staff for either future leadership roles or continuing success in their careers. As a Northwell Health senior vice president noted, "we want to give both our current leaders and future [leaders] the tools and education they need to provide the invaluable leadership that has helped [Northwell] remain innovative and a provider of high-quality care." 

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