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What does a Medical Director do?

By Donn Saylor
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A medical director is a board-certified doctor who spearheads key aspects of a medical practice. Typical jobs for a person in this position entail the management and organization of doctors, implementing policies within the practice, maintaining appropriate levels of quality care, and establishing the practice's expectations of its doctors. Medical directors may work in any number of different medical fields, including hospitals, emergency services, teaching environments, and laboratories.

Proper organizational skills are a main component of any medical director job. A person in this role is responsible for instituting the chain of command within a medical practice. This ensures that all physicians working in the practice understand the hierarchy and the avenues of responsibility that oversee the organization. Another aspect of this duty is the assurance that all medical providers employed possess the necessary credentials, education, and experience to offer care to patients.

The implementation of policies and protocols is another vital element of the medical director job description. The director may or may not devise or develop the protocols, but he or she is commonly charged with making certain these policies are followed. For example, he or she might guarantee that defined procedures and standards of care are adhered to according to the established provisions of the practice.

Medical director duties also involve quality assurance. Every hospital, clinic, and medical setting possesses a benchmark of care that must be followed at all times. While someone in this position may have limited face-to-face interaction with patients, he or she commonly works with staff members to identify, enhance, and remedy customer care concerns that arise. If a certain clinical protocol is not working, for instance, the medical director will meet with doctors and nurses to refine and rework the system until a more patient-friendly outcome is reached.

Every physician working in a medical practice is expected to meet specific criteria outlined by the medical director. These standards make certain that the utmost levels of professionalism and treatment are met. A director meets with doctors and identifies those expectations laid out for them. These could include issues relating to behavioral conduct, administrative paperwork, length of patient visits, and response time frames to emergency situations.

A medical director is a physician who possesses all the required schooling and residency. He or she usually has additional experience in administration or management. He or she often works with other high-level administrative professionals to make sure the practice is meeting and surpassing patient, employee, and government expectations.

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Discussion Comments

By umbra21 — On Sep 14, 2013

@Iluviaporos - Well, people don't fall into these roles by accident. You would have to work so insanely hard to get into health care management, especially at a big hospital, I don't think anyone would do it unless they really wanted to.

And I can definitely understand it. No matter how much you love a particular job, it can be good to get a new challenge.

By lluviaporos — On Sep 14, 2013

@browncoat - I wonder if many doctors do want to be a medical director. I would think that most people get into medicine because they like working with patients and medicine. A medical director most likely doesn't get many chances to spend time with patients.

They'd have a lot of paper work and management meetings and things like that I'd imagine. It's kind of like a good teacher becoming a school principal. It's almost a shame because they might be more use in a position without those kinds of managerial duties.

By browncoat — On Sep 13, 2013

I guess if you're already eager to become a doctor, you're probably a fairly confident, ambitious person, so you'd also welcome becoming a medical director.

But it seems like such a scary job to me. A medical director must have responsibilities that I don't even want to think about. If they drop the ball, people could die. And not just a few people. They are also responsible for things like disease control, so if something goes wrong and disease starts spreading, they could get the blame for that.

I just don't think I could deal with that kind of responsibility. It would be difficult enough to be a doctor and responsible for one patient at a time, without becoming a medical director and being responsible for a whole community.

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