On the downside, as you go up the career ladder the amount of time you have to spend on administrative duties and meetings increases. “Although all faculty have administrative responsibilities, these duties usually increase with rank and are especially pronounced in managerial and leadership positions,” Dr. Putterman says. “Meanwhile, you will have less time to see patients and, in some cases, you will no longer see patients—depending upon your preference or your department’s guidelines. Further, “you will have less time to devote to your own personal research program or other professional interests.”
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As the department head, you’ll also be the go-to person to handle complaints and disputes. “You’ll have a tremendous degree of responsibility for the daily operations of the systems you lead,” Dr. Putterman says. “You’ll be accountable for other staff members and their actions, even if you aren’t personally involved with them.”
Dr. Rubin adds, “The division chief will sink or succeed based on the success of the faculty he or she has selected, motivated, inspired and encouraged.”
Challenges & Resolutions
Recruitment is currently a major challenge division heads face. To get more medical students and house staff interested in rheumatology, Dr. Putterman says you need to expose them to the field early on. The ACR offers institutions grants that support medical student and resident experiences in rheumatology. Also, department heads should meet with students who are interested in exploring the field of rheumatology, invest their time in medical students’ education and promote rheumatology-related opportunities at their institution.
Attending meetings of ACR division directors has provided Dr. Putterman with the opportunity to network and obtain ideas for recruitment strategies, as well as other topics he’d like input on from others, which he also does by using the ACR Division Directors’ online community. The Division Directors Special Committee is currently working to create a toolbox of best practices for division directors, including recommendations to improve recruitment.
Another challenge is championing the financial worth of a rheumatology division. “Because rheumatology is typically a relatively small specialty, it is much easier for a hospital to overlook allocating resources to that area,” Dr. Putterman says. “Therefore, we need to make sure the institution understands our contributions, such as taking care of the medical needs of patients with musculoskeletal disease before and after orthopedic surgical interventions, being experts in biologic therapies and immunomodulators, and being a significant generator of immunologic tests.”
Additionally, time management skills are crucial for division chiefs. Dr. Putterman suggests identifying individuals you can delegate responsibility to. “You need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your faculty and administrative staff,” he says. “Allow them to have positions of responsibility and authority within your division. Empowering others strengthens the division, while also providing them valuable opportunities for professional advancement.”