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What It Means to Be an Exceptional Leader in a Medical Setting

By on August 23, 2017 in Careers with 1 Comment

Group of happy doctors communicating on a meeting in the hospital.
Doctors. Nurses. Technicians. Support staff. Everyone contributing in a healthcare organization affects patients and their families in some way.


Providing quality care and running efficient, sustainable, safe, and compliant organizations takes effective leadership. The traits of effective top executives are common across industries, and some of these qualities and practices can stand out even more when it comes becoming an exceptional leader in the a medical setting.


Exceptional Healthcare Leaders Communicate and Collaborate Well

Last November, trade journal Becker’s Hospital Review published an article recapping a leadership roundtable. Takeaways from this panel included five main thoughts on leaders in a medical setting. Frequent, clear and transparent communication topped the list. The panel also explained that communication style should be individualized to each audience, and that leaders should be present, accessible, and responsive to their teams.


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing cites the ability to work in teams and collaborate across disciplines among the qualities of nurse-leaders. Good collaboration and communication skills lead to trust, respect, and better relationships—aspects that contribute to successful leadership.


Exceptional Healthcare Leaders Serve Their Employees

In an August 2017 Smart Business article, Jeff Belsky wrote that service leadership may be the best model for health. “Service leadership is what takes place when leaders serve their fellow workers,” he explained. “Servant leaders show concern for others and put the needs and interests of others first.” Thinking bigger picture and longer term about how decisions affect everyone on the team shows compassion and empathy.


Exceptional Healthcare Leaders Are Data-Driven

Today’s healthcare organizations must rely on data for tracking trends, making predictions, and analyzing success. This means leaders in medical settings must be comfortable with technology and all that it can do for organizations. In fact, senior leadership positions in informational technology have become ubiquitous in the healthcare setting.

Exceptional Healthcare Leaders Know Their Industry

Healthcare leaders, from financial to patient-facing, must understand current and emerging trends, policies, regulations, and legislation. They also must be aware of concerns and challenges facing their patients and communities. Staying informed means continuing education, professional development, and a general desire to stay current in an ever-evolving industry.


While first serving as a practitioner is not always a requirement for top-level positions, many medical organizations see benefits of clinician-leaders. An article from McKinsey Quarterly shared an example of increased patient satisfaction in the Veterans’ Health Administration after a doctor was appointed a CEO and other clinicians appointed to senior roles. The authors noted that “improvements happened because clinicians, most notably doctors, play an integral part in shaping services.”


To sum up, to become an exceptional leader in a medical setting you should be a strong and compassionate communicator and a willing collaborator. You should be driven by data and committed to staying on top of the industry.


If you’re called to lead in a healthcare setting, consider learning more about ACU’s online master of healthcare. We also offer an online doctor of nursing practice that prepares RNs for ethical clinical leadership.


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  1. Jannice Griffin says:

    I am a graduate of ACU with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree. I graduated with the class of 1969. I taught school for 27 years, focusing on English, reading, and art in the middle school area. I retired from public school teaching 2 years ago. My husband was also an ACU grad, as were both of my children, daughter in law, granddaughter, and now my grandson is a freshman at ACU. I come from a long line of Wildcats. I feel like I still have lots to offer students and families of these troubled students. The closest Christian counselor is 85 miles away from the small town where I live. I am extremely interested in your online counseling programs for this purpose. My husband and I were married 45 years when he passed away; we had a very stable Christian marriage and home. Our own children’s friends always loved to come to our home to stay, play, visit, and hang out because of the stability we had to offer. I want to continue to minister to kids and families, and I think through an online program through ACU, I could do this. Thank you very much.

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