Monday, March 7, 2011

Careers in healthcare administration and medical management

Author: Mehul Sheth, DO FAAP

In my previous post I introduced the idea of reading books to get a sense of what you may enjoy in the non-clinical sphere. I figure if you like something enough to spend your “free-time” reading about it that will give you a good idea where your true interests lie. The framework that I will be using is to go over the 12 non-clinical categories Dr. Kim mentions in his post. For each category I will provide one or more books that are related along with a brief synopsis of the book and my impression. If that book piques your interest then pick it up at your local library, bookstore or e-reader. After reading the book you will have a gauge of your interest in that non-clinical field-wanting to read more similar books is what you are looking for!

I’m going to jump one step ahead before starting with Dr. Kim’s first category. Once you find something that is of particular interest to you there’s basically two ways to get real opportunities in that field-via practical or academic knowledge in that field. The academic knowledge comes via a degree: public health-MPH; financial analysis-CFA; administration-MHA; entrepreneurship-MBA, etc. Practical knowledge comes from actually doing (and being able to communicate that experience!). This means that reading books in your free time is only going to be the first step in a process that will take precious time. I say this not to discourage you, but rather to establish that if you are serious about getting into a non-clinical field you must organize your time in a way that allows you to do things outside of your job. Some are good at this, others are not. Fear not, anything in life can be learned, and I will take up the topic of organization specific to the medical field after I go through the 12 non-clinical fields (unless there’s a great response to get to it sooner). With that let’s talk about the first category-healthcare administration, medical management, hospital administration and managed care.

There are truly innumerable books on management-you simply have to go to your local Barnes and Noble and 20% of the store is filled with these books. Instead, I'd like to focus on a couple books that dive at the intersection of medicine and administration.
The Checklist Manifesto is written by Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon and seasoned author. His previous books include Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance and Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, must reads for physicians. The Checklist Manifesto discusses the simple idea of implementing a short list that must be reviewed prior to each procedure. A simple idea, Gawande does a wonderful job of discussing the barriers to executing this research proven intervention. If you are considering administration, this book gives you a glimpse into the varied issues that you will face from the different stakeholders within the hospital. Although from a broad perspective each department is looking to improve patient care, when you get into the trenches, there are many subtler issues that must be addressed when trying to achieve that shared goal.

Another good book is The Social Transformation of American Medicine. A much more academic tome than The Checklist Manifesto, it brings about important ideas that resulted in the modern American medical system.

Some other interesting reads include: How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, M.D., How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell as well as a multitude more. I have only included books that I have read and feel would be helpful. I would love to hear of other books to add to my reading list. If you've read the above books, I would love to hear your comments of how they pertain to your daily medical life.

About the author:

About the author: Mehul Sheth is a Board Certified Pediatrician who works for Allscripts, a leading Health IT company. He has designed and delivered social media strategies for varied medical organizations. He is also an award-winning clinical teacher and holds positions for both local and national AAP committees. He loves spending his free time with his wife and three kids. He can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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