What the physician hiring process can learn from the NFL draft

As I was getting my daily fix of ESPN recently, something a bit different than the routine scores and highlights came across my TV.

Two very talented men, both potentially bound for NFL stardom, were showcasing their talents for scouts, coaches, recruiters, and reporters – a panel of judges if you will. Although these players have certainly proved their talents in the past, these workouts will likely determine which player an NFL team will choose to build their future around. These workouts are vigorous, competitive, and very, very public. As draft day approaches, there is a running tally of whose stock is up and whose is down. Which player is at the top of Mel Kiper’s big board? Who will be drafted in the top ten? Will they succeed or be a bust?

As I listened to the reporter break down every step of Cam Newton’s latest pro day, I wondered what it might be like if physicians were put through this type of workout and evaluation before we were “chosen to play on a team?” If professional entertainers are subject to this type of scrutiny, shouldn’t we expect at least that from those of us sworn to care for the sick and “do no harm?”

I thought about the standard recruiting process for most physicians. A check of our background and training. A reference check from those with whom we have worked. An interview or two and a nice dinner. All of this is usually followed by an offer and a contract. Not exactly the NFL combine when it comes to assessment of quality.

The world of quality in healthcare is at a pivotal point in its history. Tracking of quality data and performance is certainly central to any health reform effort, but when it comes to individual physician performance, we admittedly have a long way to go. The arguments over which data are good enough and whether or not it “applies to me” continue to be the core of many discussions in many physician lounges and hospital board rooms. We may not ever get to the level of intensity seen on NFL draft day, but if we truly hope to deliver the highest level of quality for our patients, we must be more open to increasingly higher levels of scrutiny and evaluation of our performance.

Mark W. Browne is Principal, Pershing Yoakley & Associates and can be found on Twitter @consultdoc.

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