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What does a Chief Medical Officer do?

Autumn Rivers
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A chief medical officer, also called a CMO, is typically the physician in charge at most hospitals. The person in this position must have a medical degree and be able to practice in the medical field, but should also have experience managing others. The main responsibilities of this position include overseeing all doctors, and making sure that patients are safe and well cared for. A CMO does not usually have to provide direct medical care to patients, but he should have the knowledge to do so since he typically needs to train doctors that are new to the hospital, and may need to exercise medical judgment on certain cases. In general, this person is a liaison between doctors and hospital executives.

Some of the main qualifications of this kind of job include an advanced degree in medicine and a license to practice, but not just any doctor will do. A chief medical officer is also expected to have both training and experience in management duties, so business sense is also usually necessary. This is considered a leadership position since doctors look to this person for guidance, so past leadership roles are helpful. Additionally, communication and interpersonal skills are often needed since the CMO should be able to relate to doctors in all fields, and also needs to frequently talk to department managers, patients, and top executives.

One of the major roles of the chief medical officer is to ensure that doctors are delivering the best care possible for patients. This means that this person typically trains new doctors on hospital policies, evaluates the level of care given by medical professionals, and chooses medical directors. The CMO also deals with finances, as he typically determines the rate of pay for employees, assists in resident funding, and also helps manage the budget.

Aside from daily management duties, the chief medical officer is responsible for attending a variety of meetings that deal with the hospital. Communicating with chairmen of committees, and attending board of trustee meetings can be expected in this role. Typically, the goal of going to such meetings should be to promote education, improvement of the medical facility's performance, and attention to quality assurance in every department. Additionally, the chief medical officer usually meets with medical directors frequently to make sure that all procedures are being followed within each department. Helping to coordinate community clinics and any other activities in which the hospital participates is also a major job of a CMO.

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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for Practical Adult Insights, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By anon995308 — On Apr 19, 2016

The CMO became a very big deal after the Affordable Care Act acted the concept of value-based purchasing to health care services and extended electronic health record requirements to multiple non-hospital environments. This article does not do fair justice to the CMO position. It is only a bare scraping of the position. Physicians and nurses have very similar yet distinctly different roles in healthcare. The two disciplines may work in conjunction or can be at extreme odds with each other do those differences. The CMO bridges government regulations, hospital administration, and information technology along with physician and nursing perspectives. I have not researched salaries, but I hope it pays handsomely. CMOs have their work cut out for them. You may also find additional CMO understanding with Champion Physician research.

By anon959069 — On Jul 01, 2014

Is the term Chief Medical Officer a legal term? For example, if you were starting a medical device start up and you are a Doctor of Pharmacy, could you be the Chief Medical Officer?

By anon314784 — On Jan 19, 2013

Who better to understand the issues of medical care, in delivery and performance, than a physician? I would not want a MBA without experience taking care of patients having this job. There are so many more doctors with MBAs who would be ideal for this sort of job.

By JaneAir — On Jun 15, 2011

@KaBoom - It does kind of sound like a waste to have someone who is trained to treat patients dealing with administrative duties. But just imagine for a minute if say, a plumber was in charge of running the hospital. Or a doctor was in charge of a manufacturing plant. Neither of those would make sense!

It's very important for a chief medical officer to have first hand knowledge of all the things that go on at the hospital so they know how to run it. Also some people just enjoy administrative duties more than hands on patient care.

The chief medical officer salary is also quite high so I can understand why a doctor might choose to take the job.

By KaBoom — On Jun 13, 2011

My mother had surgery two weeks ago and we had a lot of problems with the hospital. We first dealt with the chief nursing officer but the chief medical officer was ultimately the one who handled the problem.

The chief medical officer seemed like she really had her hands fun dealing with patients and doctors the day we saw her. I doubt she actually has time to do much hands on medicine. It seems like kind of a waste to go to medical school and then not actually treat patients.

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for Practical Adult Insights, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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