QI Tips: Recruiting Physician Champions for Improvement Projects
Clinically-based improvement teams can benefit from having a physician champion on board. The physician champion plays a crucial role when it comes time to make the case for other physicians to support an improvement idea. How do you find a physician champion? Here are three tips for successful recruitment:
1. Find someone who has a passion for the topic of your improvement work.
It may be easier to ask someone with an outgoing personality or someone you know well to be your physician champion; however, you’ll likely create more work for yourself on the back end. When someone’s personal passion and the improvement topic are closely aligned, you won’t need to push them to participate. (Example: If your improvement team wants to make sure all children coming into a clinic receive a healthy weight plan, find a physician who is specifically passionate about addressing obesity.)
2. Be honest and realistic about the time commitment
Doctors are busy and have limited time. It’s crucial for the improvement team to think about how the physician champion should participate and where he or she can best add value. Be upfront about the time commitments to avoid frustrations for the physician champion and the rest of the improvement team.
"Make sure the time commitment isn’t going to push doctors away. Think one to two hours a week," says Christopher Magryta, MD, a pediatrician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates in Salisbury, NC, and a physician champion on Rowan Regional Medical Center’s Best Fed Beginnings team. “I do feel guilty when I can’t do something for the project, like visiting another center to see what they are doing. It’s important to remember there is no dedicated time to do these projects. It’s outside the norm of regular practice and family time. I participate because I’m passionate, but it’s on my own time.”
3. Find an affable and open-minded recruiter.
No one wants to work with someone they don’t like. Make sure the person recruiting the physician champion is likeable and excited about the project. He or she should also be willing to listen and address any concerns the physician may have.
Following these three steps helps ensure you will have an engaged physician champion who will drive your improvement work forward.
“For me it was easy to become a physician champion because I loved the project. I wanted to be there, I wanted to help out,” says Magryta. The Best Fed Beginnings project helps hospitals improve their maternity care practices to obtain Baby-Friendly designation. “I knew going in that the downstream effects were profoundly life-changing for these children. I saw that as a reason why my time was well spent.”