Learn About Being a Chief Medical Officer

By Indeed Editorial Team

December 10, 2019

What does a chief medical officer do?

The chief medical officer is responsible for overseeing the medical operation of a hospital, ensuring the staff and patients are properly cared for. Some key responsibilities of this position include:

  • Overseeing the daily clinical operations and ensuring  patients receive high-quality medical care 

  • Serving as a mediator between administration and staff 

  • Examining clinical operations in search of ways to improve their efficiency

  • Recruiting new medical staff to the organization and fostering their growth

Average salary

Chief medical officers typically work full-time schedules. Chief medical officer salaries range based on the location and size of their medical facility, as well as their experience.

  • Common salary in the US: $217,587 per year

  • Some salaries range from $64,000 to $462,000 per year.

Chief medical officer requirements

A chief medical officer is a high-ranking position, and applicants must meet the high experience standards to prove they are viable candidates. They will need to complete extensive levels of education and obtain certain certifications before starting in this career.

Education

The education requirements for this position include both medical and administrative studies. Before beginning their medical career, a chief medical officer will earn a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution.

Following undergrad study, an aspiring chief medical officer will need to obtain a degree in medicine. A medical school program will traditionally consist of two additional years of classroom learning and two years of practical experience in a supervised setting, followed by a residency training program.

Some chief medical officers also obtain a Master of Health Administration or Master of Business Administration. This combination of degrees in both the medical field and administration provides the tools needed for the many responsibilities of this position.

Training

A chief medical officer will need significant hospital experience in addition to their formal education. Time spent as a practicing physician provides valuable training for the chief medical officer role at a hospital, as anyone in this position will use this experience to make effective decisions that impact the entire organization.

Time spent in a managerial position in a hospital is also essential training for a chief medical officer. This allows an individual to gain experience managing staff issues within the facility, providing a physician with the administrative skills required to become a successful chief medical officer.

Certifications

Candidates for this position will need to have earned a doctorate-level degree, as well as a master’s degree in a business or administrative field. A candidate should also be board-certified in one or more specializations. While additional medical and business certifications are not usually required, they can help distinguish a candidate from other applicants.

Skills

An effective chief medical officer will possess a diverse skillset encompassing both medical and business skills, including the following:

Communication

A significant part of this role involves serving as a connection between the facility’s administrators and the staff. A chief medical officer should convey the positions of one group when speaking with the other to ensure the hospital can operate efficiently.

Management

A chief medical officer must have strong leadership skills to effectively manage their staff. Management skills allow an individual to effectively delegate tasks to the right people, which will help keep the hospital running smoothly.

Problem-solving

A chief medical officer should prioritize and allocate resources in a manner that ensures the best outcome for the hospital. Strong problem-solving skills will help an executive find more creative solutions to organizational concerns while staying within their budget.

Delegation

Due to the high number of responsibilities that fall under the chief medical officer’s domain, they will need to effectively delegate responsibilities. Delegation is an essential skill when a leader needs to find staff members who are ideally suited to complete certain tasks promptly and accurately.

Persuasiveness

One of the most important chief medical officer roles includes interacting with the medical board that oversees the facility. Strong persuasive skills are valuable for board meetings, as they enable a chief medical officer to advocate for necessary resources to ensure their staff can proper patient care

Chief medical officer work environment

Chief medical officers work in a variety of professional and medical settings, including the following:

  • Working at a desk for extended periods while tending to administrative tasks

  • Walking through the hospital to interact with staff and experience patient interactions firsthand

  • Convening with the hospital board to discuss important finances and policy

  • Communicating with the staff on behalf of the board to maintain organizational unity

How to become a chief medical officer

If you are considering a career as a chief medical officer, you can start by following these steps.

1. Get an undergraduate degree

Although there is no required major for an undergraduate degree, earning a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field will provide the foundational knowledge necessary to pursue this career. A pre-medicine degree can help you get into a strong medical school program, while a business administration major teaches the important non-medical skills required of a chief medical officer.

2. Attend medical school

Your medical school performance will provide both an item to note on your resume and the preparation needed to begin training in a medical position.

3. Undergo practical training

A physician’s internship, residency and fellowship offer an opportunity to learn valuable clinical skills required of a chief medical officer. Mentors will provide examples of managerial role behaviors, and offer recommendations to aid in later promotional pursuits. 

4. Become a physician

Most health organizations will require many years of clinical experience from applicants, which helps ensure they can make informed decisions in an administrative role.

5. Enter a management role

A managerial position within a hospital is a common step for aspiring chief medical officers, and most postings will require applicants to have multiple years of managerial experience. This demonstrates an ability to handle some of the non-clinical responsibilities of a chief medical officer.

6. Create a resume

Use your resume to highlight your work as a supervisor, as well as any significant awards and recommendations you have received.

7. Apply for the job

When applying for chief medical officer positions, send your resume along with a cover letter that outlines your best attributes. Including reference letters from executives and managerial figures you have worked with will help improve your chances of earning the job. 

Chief medical officer job description example

Our hospital is seeking a Chief Medical Officer to join our executive team. We are in search of an MD with 10 or more years of experience in a clinical role. The ideal candidate will be an equally skilled administrator and physician. The hospital provides care for all manner of patients, and we take pride in providing high-quality care to every patient we treat. Board approval will be sought before offering the position to a candidate.

Related careers

Other careers similar to chief medical officer include the following:

  • Administrative officer

  • Health administrator

  • Medical director

  • Medical office manager

  • Practice manager

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