The Affordable Care Act has created a disruption in the status quo that represents both challenges and opportunities for physicians. With the healthcare delivery system evolving faster than ever, today’s physicians are uniquely positioned to influence the future of medicine. In addition to having excellent clinical skills, physicians can act as a liaison and influence everyone with an interest in medicine, including patients, insurers, administrators, and policy makers.

As an executive coach, I help physicians implement change that matters to them. Pearls that other physicians have learned in their journey to create a better future in medicine are likely useful to you, too.

Choose how you respond to change.
Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. Some of us spend much of our lives trying to change the world. Certain people eagerly adopt the newest tools, techniques, and toys. Some change reluctantly but resolutely, because they know they have to evolve. Others lie low when change is afoot, hoping it will bypass them. One of the few things you can control is whether you respond to the changes happening around you as a crisis or an opportunity to learn, grow and create.

Don’t be afraid to take the lead.
If in your heart you know you have something to contribute, just do it. Develop your passion for a particular area of clinical medicine and accept all opportunities to learn and participate. You never know where these steps may lead. Combining present knowledge with future learning definitely will add to your leadership skills.

Build a reputation of honesty and integrity.
Keep your values firmly grounded, and never compromise them. It isn’t worth it. Trust is essential to creating change. To maintain a positive reputation, show up for meetings, contribute to discussions, and volunteer for assignments.

Build a circle of mentors.
Mentors can be peers, administrators, friends, a coach, and family members. The most effective mentors are those who tell you what you don’t want to hear. To grow and be responsive to a changing landscape, interact with people who come from diverse backgrounds, education, and perspectives.

Leverage the 80/20 rule.
Work/life balance is fundamental to physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, as well as to productivity and satisfaction with professional and personal life. A strategy to manage time and energy is the Pareto Principle, commonly termed the 80/20 Rule. Typically, 80% of the value of our work comes from 20% of items on our “To Do List.” To focus on the 20% of tasks resulting in 80% of the value of work, ask yourself: What should I STOP doing, START doing, and CONTINUE doing?

“The only way to predict the future is to create it.”
This quote by the famous management consultant, Peter Drucker, is as true for medicine as it was for his clients in business corporations. Most physicians I meet are willing to “be the change” they want to see. Physicians have opportunities to take lead roles in changing how healthcare is delivered. Through collaboration and incorporation of these useful tools, even more physicians will be equipped to manage change in healthcare. Open the door, and walk through it – you belong there!

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