Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY.
The challenges physician leaders confront today call to mind Odysseus' challenge to steer his fragile ship successfully between Scylla and Charybdis. The modern Scylla takes the form of ever-increasing pressures to provide more resources for professional liability, compliance, patient satisfaction, central administration, and a host of other demands. The modern Charybdis takes the form of ever-increasing pressures to procure resources when fewer are available and competition is continuously increasing the need for resources, including managed care, hospital administration, payers, employers, patients who are uninsured or underinsured, research funding, and philanthropy. This publication provides physician leaders with guidance for identifying and managing common leadership challenges on the basis of the professional responsibility model of physician leadership. This model is based on Plato's concept of leadership as a life of service and the professional medicalethics of Drs John Gregory and Thomas Percival. Four professional virtues should guide physician leaders: self-effacement, self-sacrifice, compassion, and integrity. These professional virtues direct physician leaders to treat colleagues as ends in themselves, to provide justice-based resource management, to use power constrained by medical professionalism, and to prevent and respond effectively to organizational dysfunction. The professional responsibility model guides physician leaders by proving an explicit "tool kit" to complement managerial skills.