Saturday, February 23, 2013

In Search of Physician Leaders
Without the ability to identify true leaders the future is bleak.
Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD, On Leadership: Essential Principles for Business, Political, and Personal Success, Skyhorse Publishing,  2008, 2011

For the last ten years, I have been on the board of medical advisors for a New York City- based publishing company Castle Connolly Limited.  Among its activities, Castle Connolly publishes an annual book America’s Top Doctors. Through nominating process, Castle Connolly identifies 3000 or so of these doctors and publishes their names in its national and regional publications   
Castle Connolly also sponsors an annual National Physician of the Year Awards evening, akin to an Academy Awards,   for physicians.
This year those being honored include:
2013 National Physician of the Year Awardees

Lifetime Achievement:

Michael R. Harrison, M.D.
Professor Emeritus of Surgery, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences
Founding Director, Fetal Treatment Center
University of California, San Francisco

Sterling Williams, M.S., M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President of Education, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, George Washington University Medical School

Clinical Excellence

Gopal Badlani, M.D.
Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs
Department of Urology, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Jo A Hannafin, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Weill Cornell Medical College
Hospital for Special Surgery

Jerry A. Shields, M.D.
Director, Oncology Service
Wills Eye Institute
Professor of Ophthalmology
Thomas Jefferson University

National Health Leadership

Dawn Halfaker
President and CEO, Halfaker and Associates, LLC
President, Board of Directors, Wounded Warrior Project

It occurred to me a similar search might be conducted for Physician  Leaders of the year. A dearth of physician  leadership exists.  When the American Medical Association backed Obamacare,  it created a leadership vacuum.   Tens of thousands of physicians resigned from the AMA. Why? Physicians felt powerless and leaderless. Though national surveys, the Physicians Foundation ( has documented this concern about lack of leadership.  
Physicians are angry because Obamacare systematically decreases their reimbursements,  attacks the  fee-for-service reimbursement system,  hassles them with burdensome regulations,  increases practice expenses through mandatory EHRs and electronic prescribing,   forces them into accountable care organizations,  creates physician shortages,   dries up access to physicians,  and drives up cost of care.  
In any event,  physicians are looking for physician leadership to lead them out of the health reform morass and abyss.
My nominations for established and emerging physician leaders are:

·         Donald J. Palmisano,  MD, JD,  former AMA president (2003-2004), founder of Intrepid Resources ®, a Patient Safety and Risk Management Company, and an authority of leadership.

·         Ben Carson, MD,  head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, who advocates health savings accounts for all from birth to death.

·         Delos “Tony” Cosgrove, MD, CEO of Cleveland Clinic, who stresses accommodating to Obamacare by building more effective  integrated health organizations, increasing their outreach,  and emphasizing cost consciousness

·         Marcy Zwelling MD of California, and David McKalip of Florida,  AMA members who criticize the parent organization and suggest  reform alternatives

·         Walker Ray, MD, retired pediatrician and VP of the Physicians Foundation,  who has been active in leading development of white papers ,  national surveys, and grants to improve physician practices.  

You may be interested in identifying other leaders.   Send your nominees to me at, and I will publish them in my blog.
As you do so,  consider these essentials of leadership, as identified by Dr. Palmisano.
A true leader:
·         Does the necessary “homework.”

·         Demonstrates courage.

·         Is persistent; doesn’t give up when faced with challenges; is relentless in pursuit of goal.

·         Fully understands both the mission and the goal.

·         Has integrity; is ethical.

·         Is decisive.

·         Doesn’t fail to act in absence of either instructions for an unexpected  crises or the desired data on which to base decisions.

·         Ie good listener and an effective communicator.

·         Does not depend on the approval  of others to build self-esteem.

·         Understands that unity adds to success and division leads to failure.

·         Leads “from the front.”

·         Inspires others and engages them using his or her passion and authentic behavior

·         Never asks others to take risks that he or she would not take.

·         Doesn’t get rattled in crises.

·         Seeks opportunities  to advance  the mission.

·         Knows how to identify those who are sincere in internal relations.

·         Is trustworthy and learns quickly whom to trust.

·         Is dependable, adhering a company’s or a movement’ mission without compromising  principles .for personal benefit  or enrichment.

·         Becomes a loyal follower  and supporter of other  leaders once they are identified.

·         Realizes that leadership is not an ego trip.
Tweet:  Practicing physicians are concerned about a loss of physician leadership.  They should set up a nominating process to identify their leaders

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