Leadership models that emphasize clinical partnerships between doctors and nurses from the executive level to the bedside is an idea whose time has come. Truly improving health care delivery requires more than the realignment of accountability structures and gathering all of the voices into the room. Leading effectively necessitates the strategic leveraging of synergy through clinical partnership.   

Last fall, key leaders from the AHA, American Organization of Nurse Executives and the American Association for Physician Leadership were joined at a forum by hospital and system chief medical officers and chief nursing officers from around the country with effective co-leadership models to understand what made their leadership stand out from the crowd. 

Insights shared from the forum suggest a model that places a primary emphasis on the centrality of relationship as the vehicle for effectively leading others. Clinical partnership is both a way of working and a way of being. All forum participants mentioned the importance of building trust, communicating effectively and engaging respectfully as key to their success (read the related report, A Model for Clinical Partnering: How Nurse and Physician Executives Use Synergy as Strategy). 

Three organizations shared lessons learned in a series of podcasts – Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives. Below are key takeaways from their experience.

  • Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center: For a dyad relationship between physician leaders and nursing leaders to work properly, it has to have organizational support. 
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital: Successful co-leadership can cascade throughout an organization to enhance care delivery from the board room to the bedside. 
  • Catholic Health Initiatives: Making a clinical dyad partnership work well requires a special kind of synergy between physician leaders and nursing leaders.

Visit the AHA Physician Alliance webpage to sign up for exclusive resources and have access to tools to help your administrative and clinical leadership achieve shared mission.

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