A hospital's chief surgeon oversees the entire surgical staff and all programs designed to improve the quality and efficiency of care. This includes educational programs for residents, research programs and improved surgical services. But the chief surgeon still answers to the hospital's administrative staff, so he must also ensure that his staff follows hospital policies.
A chief of surgery supervises the work of the surgical staff and may assist in coordinating surgical activities or procedures with the general medical staff. She presides over the surgical ward, as well as at diagnostic and clinical conferences, where she may speak on behalf of her hospital. She advises on appropriate treatment for specific cases and reviews procedures to make sure treatments meet hospital standards. She also may lecture or instruct staff members in new procedures or techniques.
Medical and Consulting Duties
The chief surgeon is still a staff doctor. As such, she makes regular ward rounds. But she also makes special teaching rounds and inspection tours to make sure treatment and services are as they should be. These rounds may impel the chief surgeon to examine patients and perform advanced or difficult surgeries. The chief surgeon may also counsel staff members on unusual or difficult medical problems or arrange for consultation on difficult cases with surgeons from other hospitals.
A hospital's chief of surgery must embody the hospital's mission, particularly as it relates to the surgical department. The chief surgeon often must convince people of the need for surgery and must instruct his staff to know how to do this properly. It's also up to the chief surgeon to ensure that her staff projects the department's vision and mission. Like any leader, she does this best by setting the proper example to follow.
Policy and Paperwork
The chief surgeon has many responsibilities beyond working directly with staff or patients. As an employee of the hospital, she must make sure administrative policies are followed and implemented. She also must make sure her department operates within its budget and stays competitive with the surgical departments of other hospitals. She often must review plans for research projects, make recommendations to supervisors, assign medical duties and schedules, and make arrangements for hiring interns. She also must stay apprised of advancements in her field and ensure that the hospital knows of them.
- Jochen Sand/Digital Vision/Getty Images