4 Essential Qualities of A Strong Medical Director

Hiring the right medical director can define success for a healthcare organization, however, with so many candidates to choose from, it can be tough to know exactly what to look for. There’s no one-size-fits all medical director out there. As a hiring manager or Chief Medical Officer, it’s critical that you find a medical director that fits the unique needs of your organization. Still, there are certain qualities that are almost universally exhibited by successful medical directors, which we will explore below.

Medical directors are required to wear multiple hats and engage with a wide range of people. Their role doubles as both a physician and an administrator, which can be contradictory in nature sometimes. Medical directors are required to balance regulatory pressures with clinical best practices and must be able to effectively implement policies and procedures while also managing staff expectations and overseeing patient care. Additionally, the medical director acts as a liaison between medical personnel and facility administrators. While many physicians could technically qualify for this role, it takes a special candidate with special skills to be truly successful as a medical director.

Below, we list what we believe to be the characteristics that define a successful medical director.


Patients Come First Mentality

Above all, effective medical directors understand that patients drive the success and growth of medical facilities. When searching for a medical director for your healthcare system, it’s best to identify a candidate that makes ensuring appropriate and quality patient care a top priority. Medical Directors should be concerned with how procedures affect patient outcomes and how established procedures might be improved to yield even better outcomes in the future. A strong medical director is an agile problem solver with the critical thinking skills necessary to create and promote an atmosphere focused on patients.


Personal Resilience and Integrity

Medical directors are often pulled between the board, staff and patients, so they must be resilient. Long hours and a big workload can take a toll, which is why it’s essential directors have the stamina and the strong constitution needed to make tough decisions. A recent healthcare survey by HSJ/Hunter found that resilience came joint highest on the list of qualities needed to be a medical director.

Along with resilience, integrity is also essential. Medical Directors can help set the tone for their organizations by behaving in an open, honest and ethical manner. Acting with integrity shows leadership and part of that is upholding the values of the organization while balancing personal and professional ethics. When looking for a new medical director, be sure to find someone you believe is trustworthy enough to do the right thing when no one is looking over their shoulder.


Communication and Responsiveness

Among the most desirable traits of an effective medical director are strong communications skills and a high level of responsiveness. Because directors act as a liaison between multiple stakeholders, they must be precise and maintain an open line of communication with all of these groups. A medical director must be able to gracefully articulate their vision and be persuasive to influence important endeavors and initiatives. Within a healthcare system, there are oftentimes delicate issues that need to be addressed. Successful medical directors know how to address delicate issues in a way that aims to achieve the best outcome and can orchestrate compromises when needed. Moreover, they should be visible, accessible and responsive to the requests of their colleagues.


Organizational Skills

As I mentioned earlier, medical directors often wear multiple hats, which is why having strong organizational skills is a must. Medical directors are responsible for a very broad range of tasks and typically have a high workload, so they must be adept at creating systems and processes for staying organized that extend to both staff and administrators. Along with this, directors need to be able to plan individual and team time calendars, keep email and paperwork orderly and maintain a project schedule that everyone can access and easily understand.


Traits to Avoid in Medical Directors

As with any managerial role, there is always a risk of hiring someone with an authoritarian or autocratic leadership style, which has repeatedly been shown to be the least successful and productive. While some directors want to hit the ground running and command respect from their staff, respect is something that is earned over time. The best directors go into their new role with an open mind and are well prepared to listen, communicate and express their clear vision. Moreover, authoritarian style directors oftentimes lack empathy for their colleagues and can have a pessimistic outlook, which does not poise the organization for success. Optimism is key to being a successful medical director. To help both patients and staff through challenging times, directors must have a clear and bright outlook that directs optimism toward other physicians, practitioners and staff.



Driving the Future of the Medical Industry

The medical director your organization chooses to hire will help define not only the future of your organization, but also the future of the broader medical industry. With strong industry leadership, healthcare organizations can improve experiences for the patients of tomorrow. Finding executive and managerial leadership that can positively impact your organization is a challenging and time consuming endeavor, however, with the help of a professional recruiting firm like Healthcare Recruiters International, you can easily locate and identify the finest candidates available, wherever they may be.

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