Predicting and Ensuring Physician Success: Assessments and Training

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

When it comes to physician-hospital alignment and physician engagement, you probably agree with Bryan Warren of Select International that there is no secret sauce. Bryan elaborates, “It’s a problem when you bring a physician on board who is a sound clinician, a great clinician, but who doesn’t have a high level of emotional intelligence. He will struggle in his interactions with patients and colleagues.” Considering hospitals’ significant investment in physician recruitment, understanding key attributes and helping physicians develop certain behavioral skills is essential.

Organizations who do this take more of a holistic approach. “It goes back to the idea of culture. You must have a culture that values talent. You must have a culture that applies critical thinking to bringing new physicians into the organization and a culture that favors working with new recruits to develop effective behavioral skills,” he says. Successful healthcare organizations understand training must extend beyond pure technical and clinical content. They also understand necessary, measurable behavioral traits don’t change over time.

Select International has built a developmental tool to measure the behavioral attributes that affect interaction with patients and colleagues. “We look at levels of empathy, emotional intelligence, and service orientation. Once we have measured those in an individual, we don’t recommend trying to change them, because he can’t,” Bryan explains.

He worked with a physician who took the assessment and scored low on emotional intelligence. His comment was, “What am I supposed to do with that information?” Bryan explained to him it was more important to know he’s low in social awareness because, once he understands those attributes and his natural tendency, he can start to change specific behaviors. What does that look like specifically?

Offering a personal example, Brayan shares, “As an attorney, I reviewed a lot of contracts, but I scored low in attention to detail, which is problematic. While I couldn’t change my innate trait, I could print a hard copy of the contract instead of reviewing it on the computer screen. I could read every provision separately, breaking the content into smaller sections. This practice allowed me to overcome my natural inattention to detail.”

Bryan worked with another physician with low social awareness who had been tasked with leading a service line team. “I taught him an easy practice. At certain points throughout the meeting, because he couldn’t naturally pick up on whether people agreed with or understood his guidance, he needed to stop and ask the members if they were okay with the direction he was providing,” offered Bryan. The physician became more effective by developing a habit of asking that question.

Screening for certain attributes helps organizations select candidates who are more likely to be successful. When a physician is already onboard, however, it’s important to do everything reasonably possible to help that person grow and develop.

 “Organizations invest a ton of money and time into bringing a physician to the community, only to find out two years into the relationship she’s not happy, hasn’t grown, hasn’t developed, and is moving on. Back to square one,” Bryan observes. He adds, “Once they’re onboard, we need to do everything we can to help them be successful. While organizations are paying more attention to this, I don’t know whether they’ve added the necessary structure to it. Even leadership academies, physician leadership academies, don’t always build systems to address these issues.”

Bryan would like to see organizations develop systems that teach physicians how to manage meetings and interact successfully with colleagues, believing this would go a long way toward improving the chances of recruitment success. Twenty years ago, hospital and medical staff leaders tolerated the physician who didn’t follow the rules all the time, who wasn’t service-oriented, and who believed his or her approach was the best approach,” according to Bryan. Today, we know success is highly correlated to specific personal attributes and the ability to change behaviors when an attribute is lacking. The successful physician either has a high level of emotional intelligence or has been taught ways to compensate by practicing certain behaviors.

Bryan Warren is the director of healthcare solutions at Select International, a firm specializing in the development of employee selection tools designed to help organizations build a strong workforce. He recently recorded a podcast covering this and other topics related to talent acquisition. To hear the full podcast, click here.