Physician consultants are doctors who provide a range of consulting services to other doctors and health care facilities. Some physician consultants work full- or part-time for a specific facility. Other types of physician consultants provide services on an as-needed basis or as part of a team of consultants a doctor or medical facility hires to provide specific services.
As a physician consultant, you’ll review clinical data; develop and recommend quality-improvement strategies; review charts; and weigh in on medical care that a doctor or medical team provided. You may work closely with individual doctors or directly with hospital executive teams and board members. You may lead work groups, help develop different medical protocols and serve as an on-site quality expert.
To present your findings and suggestions for improvement, you may need to create presentations and handouts, lead information sessions, set measurable goals and track progress. You may review specific cases, such as when a grievance has been filed by a patient or a patient’s family. Physician consultants also monitor ongoing improvement initiatives and are asked to consult on confidential cases and in urgent-care situations. You may also need to manage conflict, such as when working with difficult doctors, resolving disputes and facilitating change.
Education, Experience and Certification
Physician consultants must be medical doctors with extensive clinical experience treating and working with patients. Some employers also require their consultants be board-certified in a specialty, such as pediatrics or emergency medicine, or have extensive training in the services or specialties that the medical center or doctor provides. Some employers, such as physician consultant groups that provide services to a number of health care facilities, may require you to have privileges at the hospitals where you may be asked to consult. Prior experience motivating doctors to implement quality-improvement initiatives can also help you qualify for a job as a physician consultant.
To succeed as a physician consultant, you must be able to identify and suggest ways of solving problems. You must know and understand health care policy and stay current on medical developments and best practices. You should know how to collect and analyze data; be comfortable presenting this data to different audiences, such as doctors or executives; and understand how to use basic word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Having impeccable communication skills is a must as is a willingness to learn new ideas.
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