Does your physician know how to lead? A view into the Kaiser Permanente / Group Health Physicians Medicine and Management Program

Interviewing “Pat Permanente, MD” – will he succeed in our medical group? – a Kaiser Permanente Care Actor View on Flickr

It’s hard to become a Permanente physician. It’s difficult to stay a Permanente physician, if you are not prepared to be a healer, leader, and partner.

Fortunately, there are programs like Medicine and Management, designed to train 40-50 Permanente physicians from the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, Northwest Permanente Medical Group, Group Health Physicians, Colorado Permanente Medical Group, Ohio Permanente Medical Group, and The Southeast Permanente Medical Group (@TSPMG) , in advanced topics in physician leadership.

The course is taught in 3 sessions. I just returned from the second session, hosted by the Colorado Permanente Medical Group. This session included a focus on recruiting and retaining the best physicians. In our health system, this is not a task that is taken lightly. Physicians are actively involved in deciding the fit of a physician candidate in our groups. Training in a top notch medical school and residency is not a guarantee of an offer being extended to take care of Kaiser Permanente members. In some cases, physicians will fly to observe surgeon candidates in the operating room.

To know how to recruit well, we have to be trained – this is not something that’s taught in medical school or residency. I loved the technique used this time – Kaiser Permanente care actors were brought in to adopt the roles of “Kim Kaiser, MD” and “Pat Permanente, MD,” both with top notch educational credentials, but with (very) different approaches to working as part of teams and being there for patients.

The care actors are part of the Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Program . I thought they were a brilliant use of this group. Following each interview session, the actors stepped out of their roles and critiqued the physician leaders about their approach and offered suggestions as well as compliments.

You can’t have a health system if you don’t have clinical leadership, and you can’t have clinical leadership unless you have training in its art and science. In this program, the training comes from the senior most leaders in each medical group, and Jack Cochran, MD (@JackHCochran), the Executive Director of The Permanente Federation (where I work).

I went through this program myself when I was a Group Health physician, and it was transformational. It allowed me to reach beyond knowing what the right things to do for/with patients were, to shaping a whole system to do those things every day, and not just for our patients, for every patient in every health system. Imagine that happening every year for 10+ years for 40-50 physicians and the impact adds up very quickly. And…the program is coming full circle for me, because in 2012, Group Health Physicians and Group Health Cooperative (@GroupHealth) are going to host session 3, for the very first time. See everyone in Seattle!

Photos below, including a birthday celebration for Jeffrey Grice, MD (@jeffreygrice) – Happy Birthday Jeffrey!

Ted Eytan, MD