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Introduction

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This chapter will start with identifying the biggest contrasts between physician and physician leaders. In understanding both the contrast and comparative elements of each role, you can prepare to make a progressive, positive transition into your new role as a healthcare or physician leader. We will then move to some initial practical perspectives and strategies which will help you undertake this critical transition effectively and employ this handbook as a readily useful reference for undertaking your new role.

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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFESSIONAL AND MANAGERIAL ROLES

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Self-Direction Versus Selfless Service

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As a healthcare professional, you are in a position that is more self-directed. Your job description reflects a range of activities that you pretty much control and that require mastery of some technical discipline. (Here, technical discipline includes specific medical skills, as well as acumen in accounting, information technology, customer care, and a host of other specific skills.) In your daily work, you make technical judgments without undue reliance on others, and external and internal organizational dynamics have little impact on your daily activities.

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FIGURE 1–1.

The Peter Principle of H/C leadership.

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In essence, professionals are responsible first and foremost for their own performance: you are the key factor in determining the level of success you experience and what contribution you make to your organization.

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As a physician leader, by contrast, you are in an area of selfless service (Figure 1–1), which depicts the applicable of The Peter Principle to health care. Rather than focusing on self-performance, healthcare managers supervise the activities of others. You have a great degree of control over and responsibility for others' activities. Your time is governed by the work activities and needs of your reporting staff, as well as the needs of your organization. Your work is constantly interrupted by people problems, organizational mandates, and change in work direction generated by upper management. Furthermore, your first responsibility is to the individuals you supervise, not to yourself. This means that your priorities and interests often take a backseat.

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Autonomy Versus Circumstantial Control

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As a healthcare professional, you have autonomous control over your work responsibilities. In many cases, your work activity is primarily governed by a job description, and you perform your tasks based on deadlines, processes, and procedures. Unless an emergency arises, you can work at your own pace and accomplish the goals you desire, based on your own performance and motivation.

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As a manager, circumstances and situations control your action flow. The organizational contribution your department makes is the main factor in determining your workflow and your daily responsibilities. As emergencies arise, you must mobilize your entire department and determine who will work to attain specific objectives. Flexibility is a key factor in your success; ...

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