In the vast matrix of the global medical system, the most important relationship is between physicians and patients. This relationship has profound positive effects on the entire healthcare industry.
The goal of this interconnection is to improve medical care while improving clinical outcomes. Simply put, stronger patient-physician relationships contribute to better patient outcomes.
Physicians are the backbone of any medical organization, providing leadership and building trust in patient care, whether the patient is in the hospital, treated as an outpatient, or at home. This altruistic breed of individuals treats and manages a spectrum of medical conditions, from minor injuries to mental health to major surgery.
In their selfless need to serve others, however, physicians sometimes have difficulty climbing the professional ladder, unable to reach greater heights in their careers, and often compromising the quality of life that they desire and deserve. Other healthcare professionals, well-versed in organizational structures, industry systems, and behavior, manage to advance into leadership roles, leaving their physician colleagues behind.
The American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) has been helping physicians improve their leadership skills through education, career development, and thought leadership since 1975. Led by President and CEO Peter Angood, MD, FRCS(C), FACS, MCCM, FAAPL(Hon), the association is on a mission to expand the impact of physician leadership and ultimately improving global healthcare by championing independent and collaborative innovation and delivering exceptional educational offerings.
The AAPL Purpose
Dr. Angood believes that all physicians go into their careers with the right intention: to help people. Physicians are highly trained and skilled in the intricacies of patient care. Eventually, however, they may encounter a roadblock if they find that they lack the skills necessary to effectively fulfill senior and managerial roles like CEO or CMO (Chief Medical Officer). AAPL was established as a platform to empower and educate physicians on ways to become better leaders.
Dr. Angood explains, “There arecomplexities in healthcare delivery that may hinder care quality, patient safety, and efficiency. Physicians are most suited to understand these medical industry systems and organizational obstacles, and are key in protecting patients from preventable harm.”
“AAPL believes that, in order to succeed, healthcare must be quality-centered, safe, streamlined, measured, evidence-based, value-driven, innovative, fair and equitable, and physician-led.”
Dr. Angood and the AAPL are focused primarily on maximizing the potential of physician leaders and through them, improve patient outcomes, workforce wellness, and the optimum utilization of all healthcare delivery. The AAPL is the only association focused solely on providing professional development, leadership education, and management training exclusively to physicians.
Evidence shows when physicians are equipped with the appropriate leadership skills, they can transform organizations and influence patient care. So, while medical schools and fellowships provide training on the clinical side, AAPL focuses on developing physician leaders who create personal and organizational value and impact.
Creating Physician Leaders
AAPL was founded in 1975 by the American Academy of Medical Directors (AAMD). The name was subsequently changed to American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) to more accurately reflect the nature and direction of its growing membership.
In 2014, under the innovative leadership of Dr. Angood, and after extensive member surveys, the organization further developed its scope of programs, products, and services and was rebranded as the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL). Since then, the association has expanded to provide even more comprehensive support to physicians at all stages of their careers.
Today, approximately 5 percent of hospital leaders are physicians, and that number is expected to increase rapidly considering the rising rates of chronic disease, global pandemics, and the aging of the population.
As this environment presents a variety of new opportunities for physicians to become formal leaders, the AAPL leverages creativity, technology, and system awareness to offer physicians leadership training programs that help them make lasting improvements in healthcare delivery. AAPL prides itself on the industry-renowned leadership training programs for tomorrow’s physician leaders.
Through the years, a hallmark of the organization has been its progressive, constantly evolving, innovative approach. From journals, newsletters, books, webinars, and podcasts to the latest news in leadership, management, technology, education, and career planning, collectively the AAPL Information Resource offerings provide the content needed for physicians to take on the greatest challenges in healthcare.
Leveraging today’s technology, the AAPL’s integrated professional development offerings range from self-paced and facilitated online courses to live, in-person education by industry experts. AAPL also offers credentialing programs to support career advancement, including the CPE (Certified Physician Executive). In addition, highly customized course programs focus on business strategy and methods for implementing change in organizational cultures.
“The patient-physician relationship is the dominant and most significant relationship in healthcare delivery. Helping the industry to better leverage the relationship by accentuating physician leadership is pivotal for creating the change needed to improve healthcare.”
A recent study indicated that “the best-performing hospitals are led disproportionately by physicians.” Physicians are customer-centric industry experts, benefiting both the patient population and the healthcare organization. This is because physicians understand their core competencies and have been interacting with patients from the start of their careers.
By giving physicians the tools and knowledge to better manage the healthcare delivery system, the leadership skills needed to enact change, AAPL equips physicians to become future-ready industry leaders. Over the years, they have grown in size, reach, and effectiveness and now have a presence around the world.
Inspiring Change, Breaking Barriers
Dr. Peter Angood grew up in a middle-class family in Midwest Canada. Interested in helping people regain their health after significant adversity, he attended medical school and pursued one of the most complex surgical disciplines: trauma surgery and surgical intensive care. After 25-years at high-end academic institutions such as Yale, Penn, and WashU, he realized his aptitudes had shifted toward creating organizational change and he wantedto do so “on a larger scale beyond one institution at one time.”
Dr. Angood’s career path took him to organizations that focused on patient safety and quality improvement. He was the Chief Patient Safety Officer and Vice President for The Joint Commission, where he oversaw the National Patient Safety Goals and other enterprise-wide, international patient safety initiatives.
He completed a two-year engagement with the National Quality Forum and National Priorities Partnership as senior advisor for patient safety before assuming the role of chief medical officer with the Patient Safety Organization of GE Healthcare. He introduced various initiatives to make healthcare better but realized his mission was helping physicians become better leaders. Influencing change and managing improvement processes was a way to improve the entire patient care industry.
Dr. Angood took over the AAPL in 2011, where his advocacy for physician leadership continued. Over the years, his support for physician leaders has strengthened, and with the AAPL, he has been able to validate time and time again the benefits of having physicians as organizational heads.
“Since its founding in 1975, AAPL has educated 250,000+ physicians across 40+ countries — including CEOs, chief medical officers, and physicians at all levels in every sector of healthcare.”
In his free time, Dr. Angood enjoys being outdoors, seeking adventure. He is an endurance sport athlete who has spent years mountaineering, mountain biking, trail running, ice climbing, and backcountry skiing. He also has completed several endurance races such as marathons and shorter ultra-runs, and half-ironman triathlons. He and a partner recently launched a digital think tank called iRewild.org, which brings together people who want to solve complex environmental challenges to restore a viable world for all lives on earth.
Dr. Angood continues his work to transform AAPL from an association oriented to developing a niche market of physician executives to a cutting-edge organization that addresses the larger-scale issues for improving healthcare by leveraging the platform of physician and inter-professional leadership.
The AAPL is positioned for growth and continues to evolve and develop new strategies and techniques to educate and create physician leaders of tomorrow. The association recently successfully navigated the transition to a digital virtual-only organization and continues to be the central location for the information resources, news, and education that physicians need as they further their own professional growth.
“AAPL will continue to expand more assertively into the international healthcare marketplace and will also expand with its efforts toward inter-professional and institutional leadership development initiatives. These initiatives will create a larger scale of change for the industry and will be leveraged through collaboration with numerous partner organizations,” Dr. Angood says.