PA Healther Wilson headshot 2 2

The Physicians Foundation awarded a grant in 2012 to the Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society to launch a Chief Medical Officer Leadership Series, a core focus area for both organizations. Heather Wilson, Executive Director of the Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, who leads their physicians’ health programs, shares her thoughts on the success of the program.

Q: Please tell us a bit about the grant and how it was utilized.

A: The Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Medical Society, launched a leadership series to provide continuing education for Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). This Leadership Series focused on the traditional areas of continuing education including financial, organizational management, human relations and leadership, yet also focused on building the soft skills that make a leader successful including active listening, negotiation, stress management for self and others, and leading through change. By maintaining a consistent cohort, participants expanded their leadership capabilities and insights, forged relationships and shared experiences with a CMO peer group that encouraged discovery and the evaluation of new approaches and ideas.

Q: Why is your physician leadership project important in today’s healthcare environment?

A: Physicians encounter challenges from so many angles. Our program helps them to become leaders in the business of medicine (how to understand and build your financial health), practice (how to practice safely and meet quality standards) and life of medicine (how to care for yourself and respond appropriately to others if they become impaired).

The CMO sits in a uniquely qualified position to offer insights into the unintended consequences of policy and administrative decisions that may not be apparent to those who have not had both experiences. Management experts have noted that new initiatives are more readily adopted, and with less disruption, if the CMO has positive relationships with colleagues.

Q: How has the grant helped improve healthcare in the community?

A: The grant helped us elevate the skill set of CMOs from across the state within the areas of business, practice and life of medicine. In addition, it established a cohort of peers that freely shared challenges and successes. As a result, the competitor gloves came off and the willingness to support each other as CMO leaders flourished.

Q: How has this program helped to re-engage physicians and inspire physician leadership?

A: CMOs are strategically positioned to serve as a bridge – to lead physicians and administrators through the rapidly changing health care environment with credibility and excellence. After participation in this educational series, our CMO participants felt better equipped to improve medical staff relations, build connections among like disciplines across a network, align goals of the medical staff and administration and serve as effective intermediaries and integrators within their organization.