Be your own physician champion

May 28, 2019

A physician champion is a clinically-experienced individual tasked with improving the dissemination of innovation within an organization. Physician champions are most often used in the context of an EHR implementation or other technological change or initiative that significantly impacts the daily workflows that medical providers are involved in within a healthcare setting.

A physician champion’s role is one of both an organizational leader and a well-respected peer. He or she aims to facilitate communication between clinical staff and administration. The champion is expected to help execute and promote the necessary change. They act as a resource, a model, a voice of reason, and a supporter.

Chances are high that, if you’re in any way affiliated with a hospital, that you’ve interfaced with a physician champion. Perhaps are you’ve even taken on this role yourself. If so, hopefully you gained appreciation for the value they add to an innovation-based change in a healthcare organization.

You can add value to our own life by being your own physician champion.

Being your own physician champion is a great way to ensure satisfaction with your job and other aspects of your professional life. We all face challenges and changes in our careers that can be defeating if we let them. We have considerable external and internal stressors that can lead to burnout if we don’t deal with them effectively.

Here’s how to translate the conventional role of a physician champion to a personal one.

Believe in the decisions you make and the actions you take

When hearing a complaint from a colleague, a weak physician champion will relay that complaint to a higher-up. A strong champion, on the other hand, will take a few steps. They will:

  • Dig a bit deeper into the individual’s complaint
  • Try to pinpoint the heart of the problem
  • Gather some data to help define or understand the issue
  • See if their colleague has any ideas about how to solve the problem

…and only then will they inform a higher-up about the problem. This time, however, they are not simply relaying a complaint. They are presenting a well-defined concern and a cohesive suggestion for how it might be approached by the team.

In your role as Physician Champion of Yourself, you need confidence in and acceptance for the work that you do.

As your champion, you need to ensure that you’re practicing in a manner that you professionally approve of. Spend your time on tasks that add value. If you’re not, identify ways to fix it. For example, if too much of your time is spent charting, calculate the ROI for a scribe.

Make sure you have the necessary support

In order for a change such as an EHR implementation to be successful, high-level decision-makers need to provide the right support – financially, logistically, and culturally. It would probably not be in your best interest to accept the title of physician champion for an initiative at your hospital that you believed was inadequately back by senior leadership.

Similarly, you need support in your own life.

If you have a job, you need a boss and colleagues that appreciate your work and back you up. If you own a business or a medical practice, you need mentors. From a personal standpoint, you need relationships that are uplifting and friends who are encouraging.

Take steps to balance your responsibilities

Despite their time spent championing, physician champions still spend most of their time seeing patients or performing their other “regular” duties. In most cases, they’re essentially volunteering their time and effort for the project. They may not get extra pay, but (hopefully) they perceive that the change will ultimately benefit them, their colleagues, the company, and their patients.

Our professional lives are full of tasks that don’t earn us money or directly benefit us. Renewing medical licenses or giving talks, for example. And we often get more and more added to our plates at work.

Determining which obligation will assist with our goals in the long run can be difficult, but definitely shouldn’t be avoided. It’s easy to fall out of balance if we don’t pay attention.

Prepare yourself to face challenges

No physician should accept a champion role thinking it will be easy. (And if you’re told it will be easy, you probably shouldn’t believe it.)

The nature of a physician champion role is challenging. An excellent champion will take on the title with a mindset of preparedness for challenges.

In our professional lives, challenges are often worth it. We just need to be equipped to tackle them.

Fill in your knowledge and skill gaps

Hospitals rarely bring in external physician champions. They appoint a champion from within. As a result, this individual is undergoing a change along with everyone else. If the organization is implementing an EHR, the physician champion is learning to use that EHR along with all the other clinical staff.

The most effective physicians are proactive about identifying where their knowledge is lacking and learning what they need to learn to effectively weather the storm that an institutional change brings.

Be acutely aware of what your role is

A physician champion at a hospital isn’t much of an asset if he doesn’t really understand what he’s supposed to do in the capacity of the role.

In your own life, you need to have goals. You might strive to make an impact within your patient population, your community, or your field. Or you may be motivated by the prospect of retiring early or becoming renowned within your specialty.

You also need to be aware of what stresses you out, what makes you use your time ineffectively, and what bitters your relationships with co-workers. By being conscious of these, you’re more apt to take steps to manage stress, increase your productivity, and be a team player.

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