Developing Healthcare Leadership Skills

While facilities continue to change and adapt to the dynamic health care environment, physicians are being placed in leadership positions more and more. Years of medical training have provided skills to diagnose and treat, but that training isn’t generally applicable to becoming a leader. Medical education programs have traditionally lacked leadership training to benefit doctors outside of direct patient care. A new physician leadership role can be a daunting task, and many providers may feel they don’t “have what it takes.”

Seeing a great need, medical schools like Duke University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Kentucky are now teaching medical leadership training, offering courses such as accounting, marketing and management training to go along with clinical coursework.

Becoming a healthcare leader not only calls for new skills but also comes with new challenges. A healthcare leader must learn how to ask the right questions and determine what they’ll need from others. Many physicians are natural problem solvers, but knowing what strategies to use as a leader is not always easy. Learning how to become a leader and take responsibility for much broader areas can be achieved by employing these skills.

Ask more questions, give fewer orders

Healthcare leadership begins when you admit there are multiple areas of your practice where you are not the expert. Key to becoming a leader is to become more of a facilitator instead of the boss or a source of all the answers. Asking people what they suggest as the solution to problems is a much more effective leadership style. You might even tell your staff to only bring a problem to you if they have a proposed solution along with it. This will allow you to seek out opinions and answers from your team, while still having ultimate authority on the final decision.

Excellent communication skills are vital for good leaders. Just remember, communication is a two-way street; being a good listener is often the most critical communication skill you can possess. If listening doesn’t tend to come naturally to you, be conscious of this and take a step back when communicating with your team.

Have a vision

It is easy to lose track of a larger vision in the healthcare industry with so many day-to-day issues and concerns. But it is crucial to have a broader view of long-term goals if you want to become a successful leader. Step back and think about the big picture. Where do you see the practice in five to ten years? A great leader can manage the everyday challenges while keeping an eye on a broader plan for the future.

A great leader will start with an end in mind. If you can envision what is best for your patients, staff and facility and work backward from there, you are likely able to steer everyone in the right direction.

Implement change

In order to successfully achieve your overall vision, you will almost certainly need to implement change. First, determine where improvements are needed. Then, think about who needs to be on board with these changes and how they will help achieve them. Work to improve systems by positively influencing people to apply the changes required to be successful.

Have regular meetings to work “on” the practice rather than just “in” the practice. Leverage the skills and expertise of everyone on your team to make your vision come to life. If you can adequately systemize and delegate, it won’t feel like you’re doing all the work and your team will enjoy being involved.

Show empathy

Empathy is often missing from the workplace. In a healthcare facility, providers and staff greatly empathize with patients and families but forget to extend the same careful thought to coworkers, who often need it just as much.

It is vital as a leader to give the benefit of the doubt and take time to listen to your team’s feelings and complaints. Empathy will create empathy. Practicing compassion as a healthcare leader will quickly establish strong, healthy relationships and earn respect from staff.

Transitioning to a leader

Becoming a healthcare leader will not happen overnight. It takes hard work, perseverance and integrity to earn your team’s trust. Once you grasp these key leadership points, you can begin to offer your unique perspective to others in your facility.

If you are looking for a medical position, TinkBird Healthcare Staffing has placed physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals in both permanent and locum tenens positions for over a decade. Contact us today to learn more about our extensive network of facilities that are hiring.

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