Trading a white coat for the business suit of an executive offers its share of rewards but requires hard work and added responsibility, say otolaryngologists who have transitioned from clinical practice or academia to the boardroom.
Explore this issue:February 2013
The job of a physician executive comes with added responsibilities, such as reporting to governing boards and reviewing the performance of fellow doctors. Otolaryngologists who have not been exposed to these areas may want to consider them before pursuing an executive track, said Barbara Linney, recently retired as vice-president of career development for the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE), an organization that offers training and career services to physician executives.
For otolaryngologists who relish collaborating with other leaders in the field, multi-tasking and making big-picture decisions for their organizations, a career as a physician executive can be challenging and rewarding.
A Nonprofit Career
Early military training and a love of politics steered Michael D. Maves, MD, to a career in executive leadership. Dr. Maves is currently executive vice president of Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere), a 54-year-old non-governmental organization that focuses on fighting infectious and noncommunicable diseases and seeks to improve the health of women and children worldwide. The Virginia-based organization conducts approximately 100 programs in 35 countries, operates with a $225 million budget and employs nearly 400 people worldwide. Currently, Dr. Maves’ duties include overseeing program management, marketing and business development.
Looking back over his career, Dr. Maves said he first realized he had leadership abilities as a young man serving in the U.S. Army, when he was charged with persuading people to work together for a common goal. He ran a troop medical clinic in what was then West Germany and was responsible for setting up the clinic and emergency room, along with ambulance, laboratory and X-ray services. The military gives you responsibility well beyond your years or experience, said Dr. Maves. “As things kind of developed, [this] was probably the first time I really knew that I could motivate, lead and direct people.”
Dr. Maves earned his medical degree from and completed his residency at Ohio State University. His dual interests in politics and the business of medicine led him to pursue an MBA. Later, as professor and chair of the department of otolaryngology at the St. Louis University College of Medicine in Missouri, Dr. Maves put his MBA to use and began participating in politics. His political activity intensified when he was tapped to represent otolaryngology as a specialty on the political front after health care issues took a more prominent political stage in the 1990s. “[This] was a big shift for me at that time, because I really stopped doing active clinical medicine on an everyday basis,” said Dr. Maves, who never expected his political engagement to last more than a few years.