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Physician NonClinical Careers with John Jurica

Sep 19, 2018

Is it possible to get a job as CMO in a year?

Well, it depends. It’s certainly easier if the organization you’re working for is looking for a CMO. Or if you’re in a large city with multiple hospitals, MCOs and large medical groups.

What do you need to do to get that job as soon as possible, even if you have limited management and leadership experience?

Well, let me be your mentor and show you how it might be done.

Let’s start with the end in mind. What skill sets will a CMO candidate need to demonstrate so that an employer will...

  1. read a cover letter and resume,
  2. set up a series of interviews and,
  3. select you as the new CMO?

If you’ve graduated medical school, completed a residency and worked clinically for a few years, you already have many of the necessary leadership skills.

But you’ll need to work on those additional business and management skills that will enable you to work in a corporate environment.

I break down those skills into five general areas that a health care organization will generally be looking for:

  1. Data Management
  2. Financial Management
  3. Business Practices
  4. Leadership Skills
  5. Talent Management

So, let’s break those 5 skill sets down into how they’re learned and demonstrated on your resume.

  • Data Management. In this arena you should be able to demonstrate the ability to analyze a variety of data, simplify and explain it to others, and create action plans to address underperformance. The type of data typically analyzed includes quality and patient safety metrics, utilization review, including length of stay and resource utilization, patient and physician satisfaction data, and process measures, such as turnaround times. You should also be able to design balanced scorecards and dashboards, understand Lean Process Improvement and Six Sigma principles, and prepare for accreditation surveys. 

You may already have experience reviewing your own, and possibly others’, quality data. But to fully demonstrate this skill set, you can consider taking the following steps.

  1. Take a course on quality reporting. These are available through the National Association for Healthcare Quality and the AAPL.
  2. Participate in committees that review data: QI Committees, and UM Committees. These committees can be at your medical group, hospital staff, or at nonprofit organizations you might join as a volunteer. I’m on the board of a hospice and chair of the quality committee. Other nonprofit healthcare organizations have boards and many have quality committees.
  3. Seek a position as a part time medical director for quality, utilization management, or clinical documentation improvement. All of them collect and analyze data. Chat with the director of the department that manages those activities to see if they need part time assistance with analyzing and presenting reports based on their collected data.
  4. Become certified in Lean Process Improvement or Six Sigma. Some courses can be completed in as little as 8 weeks.
  5. Volunteer to help prepare for the next accreditation survey of your ambulatory surgical center, hospital, or wound center. 
  • Financial Management. This includes understanding health system financial reports, departmental revenues and expenses, and creating an annual budget and managing to it. One of the biggest concepts here is to understand accrual accounting. There are other unique issues related to health care finances, such as gross vs. net revenues, income adjustments, and bad debt that must be understood. 

To gain experience, you can do the following.

  1. Review your own personal financial and productivity reports from your medical group. Volunteer to work part-time as medical advisor or medical director to present and explain reports to other physicians in the group.
  2. Find a nonprofit that has Finance Committee. The hospice I spoke about earlier has a Finance Committee, and members review monthly income and expense statements, balance sheets and other financial documents. If possible, chair the committee. This forces you to be understand the financial reports more thoroughly. Hospitals also have boards and finance committees that need members and chairs.
  3. Take a health care finances class through the AAPL or ACHE. Or take a course through a local community college in accounting to become more familiar with common accounting terminology and practices. 
  • Business Practices. These include running effective meetings, writing reports, preparing and delivering presentations, identifying and writing management goals, and project planning. 

You can learn some of these skills in the following ways.

  1. Take business and management courses through the AAPL, ACHE and others.
  2. Participate in service line committees such as those for a wound center, ICU, CCU, observation unit, occupational medicine clinic, spine center, vascular center, family planning clinic, STD clinic, and other inpatient units and outpatient service lines. Then participate in or chair planning committee meetings, strategic planning meetings, and marketing meetings for any such committees.
  3. Volunteer for the CME planning committee at your hospital. If there isn’t one, locate national educational organizations in your area by searching the list of accredited providers on the ACCME at Work hard to become the chair of the CME committee, if possible. 
  • Leadership Skills. In order to effectively lead a division that includes multiple departments, you will need experience in negotiation; healthcare law, (including contracting, Medicare fraud and abuse, credentialing and privileging, and risk management); team building and coaching skills; strategic planning, and working effectively in an executive team. 

You can acquire these skills in the following ways.

  1. Take courses on health care law through the AAPL, ACHE or local universities in your area.
  2. Read up about SWOT (S. W. O. T.) analysis and take a committee or a department through one as medical director for any service line or medical group department, or your own medical practice.
  3. Use the SWOT Analysis to develop an action plan and set of SMART goals at the beginning of each year and follow up with progress and completing of the goals at the end of the year.
  4. Participate in as many boards, committees and teams as possible, and chair as many as you can, and keep track of each one’s accomplishments for your resume. 
  • Talent Management. This goes beyond simply hiring, firing and supervising employees. A seasoned CMO will need to know how to attract and recruit good managers and directors, maintain accountability, build loyalty, develop future leaders, communicate with clarity, delegate appropriately, create succession plans, and avoid micromanagement. 

This is the most difficult of the five major areas to get experience in, unless you have staff directly reporting to you. Most medical groups involve physicians by having them attend and chair meetings. But physicians often do not have direct line responsibility for employees. 

You might not be able to get real life experience in this aspect of management skills until you’re at least part time in management as medical director, or department director or an equivalent position. 

There are some things you can do, however.

  1. If you’re already working as a medical director, try to get the department restructured in such a way as to have staff report directly to you. You’ll need to take on the responsibility of meeting individually with direct reports, providing direction, and completing evaluations. But it’s the only way to truly learn how to do these activities.
  2. You can start by taking these roles on in your practice. Become the managing partner, if you’re in a small to medium group, and actively manage supervisors and managers to gain this valuable experience.

By following these suggestions, you will be able to demonstrate the skills to be a successful CMO, and land a high-paying and fullfilling job as a physician executive and leader.

For the show notes, go to

I've also developed a paid mentoring program in which I assess your current skills, identify gaps in each of the 5 domains, and help you to obtain new skills through part-time paid and volunteer experiences.

To find out more about this program, go to Become CMO in a Year