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Must CMOs Always Be Licensed Physicians?

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, August 16, 2012

The AMA has several guidelines for the position of hospital medical director, including those in managed care positions, Snow says. While some guidelines simply address "the role of the hospital director and not what his qualifications should be," others say that a physician who is involved in making clinical decisions or involved in peer review procedures "shall hold an unlimited current license to practice medicine," he says.

"Clearly, if that is carried over to a hospital, the (CMO) should be a member of the medical staff and meet all of the qualifications of those he is interacting with," Snow adds.

Although the AMA believes licensed physicians should be in CMO positions, the organization acknowledges that there's a demand for physician leaders with increased business acumen.

More physicians are pursuing degrees beyond MD, including masters of public health, also juris doctor, and MBAs, "just to practice medicine," Snow says. Among the reasons: a more complicated healthcare terrain, especially with larger group practices "that are put together like hospitals, single specialty and multispecialty groups. They want somebody to lead that group, and for a physician to do that, it is best to have som business training," he adds.

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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!