As physician leadership matures from a discipline to a profession, it requires a body of knowledge that is evidence-based and supported by research. Research is a systematic approach that creates new knowledge and uses data to find answers to complex problems. A systematic approach relies on clear and reproducible methods and outcomes that are clearly defined, measurable, and relevant.
As healthcare evolves, so, too, does the role of the physician leader. As physician leadership matures from a discipline to a profession, it requires a body of knowledge that is evidence-based and supported by research. Accordingly, the Physician Leadership Journal must continually provide content that is timely, relevant, research-based, and accessible so that physician leaders can use it to inform their work.
Research is a systematic approach that creates new knowledge and uses data to find answers to complex problems. A systematic approach relies on clear and reproducible methods and outcomes that are clearly defined, measurable, and relevant. These two areas are worthy of further discussion as the PLJ evolves its efforts to create an evidence base and to stimulate authors to innovate in their research using rigorous methods and a focus on outcomes.
As scientists, we understand the benefits of using sophisticated research methods and study designs to create evidence-based knowledge for physician leadership. Just as each of our clinical disciplines has advanced beyond single-program and institution descriptive studies, physician leaders need a better understanding of comparative research with rigorous methods that move beyond the analysis of individual programs to derive conclusions from multi-program and multi-institutional studies. With this approach, our profession will be better able to interpret our observations, understand the potential threats to validity, and ensure that bias and chance are accounted for in our findings.
We must also encourage research based on additional study designs, including large database analysis that compares large cohorts, case control studies, and prospective methods and data collection to interrogate hypotheses on physician leadership that informs our profession.
In addition to rigorous methods, physician leaders also need research to understand the links between our work and the outcomes of patients and populations. For me, there are two components to investigating outcomes in physician leadership.
First, physician leaders are concerned with how we lead individuals of a multidisciplinary team to be the best they can be in delivering healthcare outcomes. This segment of work includes fundamental aspects of mentoring, human resource management, teaching, performance evaluation, and competency development for those on our teams.
As a profession, we should be comparing best practices in these dimensions, studying them, and striving to understand the best ways to achieve optimal outcomes for these team members, whether they are physicians or not; this comparison informs the competencies that underlie our profession.
Second, physician leadership is also a concerted team effort to achieve the health and healthcare goals for the patients and populations they are serving. This represents a great and untapped opportunity from a research perspective.
As physician leaders, we are grounded in the unique contributions that physicians bring to leadership. Although patients should benefit from this expertise, we have not fully advanced the work from a research perspective to demonstrate the unique contributions of a physician leader in either the development of our team members or the outcomes to our patients and populations.
As physician leadership advances as a profession, additional work is required e to create an evidence-based body of knowledge. This work is anchored through the research process and depends on rigorous methods and an understanding of how physician leaders influence outcomes for those individuals and populations served.
At the PLJ, we want to showcase your best research efforts in support of physician leadership. We invite you to contribute to the journal and, in doing so, the profession.