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Must CMOs Always Be Licensed Physicians?

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, August 16, 2012

"Major hospitals today require chief medical officers who can lead large teams of physicians in producing the highest-quality care and the most effective delivery of services," he adds.

So, despite the controversy over Smith, the hospital is looking for a physician, but not necessarily one with a current medical license. On one level, Crowther's decision shows a stubbornness and reluctance to give in to criticism about Smith.

By not having a licensed physician in a leadership role, however, the decision may continue to generate criticism of the hospital over issues such as patient care and malpractice that critics say could be impacted without a licensed physician in charge.

On another level, the CEO's decision reinforces the evolving nature of healthcare, in which some hospitals are looking as much at the business component of hospital leadership, as well as at the clinical piece. Crowther is clear on that.

"We are analyzing physicians who also have training in medical management, including those who have MBA degrees," he adds. "Our next CMO will have superb credentials and share our operational vision for excellence and teamwork in a patient-centered environment."

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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!