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Must CMOs Always Be Licensed Physicians?

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, August 16, 2012

Now that Smith has left, Northwest Community Hospital officials are looking for a replacement. In the view of the American Medical Association and others, a licensed  physician should be the hospital's chief medical officer, says Arthur D. Snow Jr, MD, chair of the organized medical staff section governing council of the AMA.

Having a license, ensures that physicians receive continuing medical education with the assurance that "the doctor's knowledge and skills remain intact," according to the AMA. Snow is a licensed physician based at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, near Lenexa, KS.

It may surprise some, but the CEO at Northwest Community Hospital tells me that they are looking for the best candidate, and sure enough, if it isn't a licensed physician, so be it.

"As we search for a new CMO, we are evaluating the broadest possible range of physicians," Bruce Crowther, CEO, tells HealthLeaders Media, which is reporting the Northwest plans for the first time. "All of our finalists will possess leadership skills to advance our mission and meet state qualifications for the position, which does not require a medical license for what is an administrative position."

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4 comments on "Must CMOs Always Be Licensed Physicians?"


Dave Mittman, PA (8/20/2012 at 11:38 AM)
Not trying to be hostile but I have a license to practice medicine also. Why could a PA who has an advanced degree and is licensed not be a CMO? It happens in smallest hospitals. How about an NP also? I think the US Army Surgeon General is an RN. I could argue that as they never practiced medicine. I in fact do and went to medical school to learn my craft. Dave

A.Duhe (8/16/2012 at 11:11 PM)
Dr. Leighton Smith, as a CMO without a medical license, shouldn't have been making medical decisions regarding patients and their surgeries...as he was known to do. Mr. Bruce Crowthers ( together with the confidentiality agreement he hides behind) is not stubborn nor oblivious; accordingly, he must be hiding something. Let's get to the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This story reeks. What was there to hide between 1999 to June of 2012? Qui bono?

Keith Steinhurst, MD (8/16/2012 at 3:39 PM)
Well - as more physicians seek non-clinical positions this topic will likely come up with more frequency. The license does not necessarily speak to quality - it does speak to permission to practice clinically in a given jurisdiction. The intent here though is to limit the field to specified criteria - in this case holders of unlimited licenses - which I submit that, for this position, is unrelated to quality of care. Best qualified should, in my opinion, always prevail!