Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 876–878 | Cite as

Developing Physician-Leaders: A Call to Action

  • James K. StollerEmail author



The many challenges in health care today create a special need for great leadership. However, traditional criteria for physicians’ advancement to leadership positions often regard academic and/or clinical accomplishments rather than the distinctive competencies needed to lead. Furthermore, physicians’ training can handicap their developing leadership skills. In this context, an emerging trend is for health-care institutions to offer physician-leadership programs.

Methods and Results

This paper reviews the rationale for developing physician-leaders. Factors that underscore this need include: (1) physicians may lack inclinations to collaborate and to follow, (2) health-care organizations pose challenging environments in which to lead (e.g., because of silo-based structures, etc.), (3) traditional criteria for advancement in medicine regard clinical and/or academic skills rather than leadership competencies, and (4) little attention is currently given to training physicians regarding leadership competencies.


Definition of these competencies of ideal physician-leaders will inform the curricula and format of emerging physician leadership development programs.


leadership physician-leader competencies organizational development 



We thank Ms. Sherri White for her expert help in preparing the manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physician Leadership Development at the Cleveland ClinicClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of MedicineClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Cleveland Clinic Respiratory TherapyClevelandUSA
  4. 4.Respiratory and Education Institutes, A90Cleveland ClinicClevelandUSA

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