“You have to be able to attract great people around you, submerge your own ego…so those around you can rise and be successful. And enjoy yourself and have fun while you’re doing it.”
Explore This IssueFebruary 2013
Transitioning to an Executive Career
Doctors contemplating a career switch to executive management often seek counsel from Linney or others at the ACPE. They come from various backgrounds and specialties and have usually already volunteered for management duties and discovered they enjoy it, said Linney.
Recruiters have told Linney recently of fierce competition for physician executive job openings. Annual salaries for doctors in executive roles range from $250,000 for entry-level positions to $350,000 and higher for some CEO posts, she said. That’s typically an increase from a traditional clinical practice setting, unless the doctor is a surgeon or in a high-paying specialty.
One reason physicians are hired for executive roles is that, from a management perspective, they can stand their ground with other physicians, said Linney, who has taught an ACPE course on managing physicians. “Anybody else can talk to a doctor, and the doctor can say, ‘You don’t understand. You do not know about patient care. You do not know what I’m dealing with here,’ she said. “Physician to physician, that cannot be said.”
The demanding job of an executive includes financial responsibility and accountability over much larger budgets than are typical in a medical practice. The ACPE offers courses for doctors-turned-executives on financial business applications, as well as graduate programs at various campuses across the U.S.
While the waves can get rocky for executive leaders, the position has its share of rewards as well, said the physicians interviewed. One of the most gratifying is the chance to have a greater impact on many patients’ lives. In management positions, your contribution often has a broader reach, said Dr. Miller.
“When you’re dealing with a patient face to face or in the operating room, you’re dealing with one patient, one person,” he added. “[With] administrative issues, you may be dealing with many patients, making decisions that affect many patients and, hopefully, improve a larger number of lives.”
Adapted with permission from the American College of Rheumatology