MOC Tip of the Month
Dr. Doug Hedden, FRCSC

Managing MOC transitions (from mostly clinical to mostly administrative)

MOC Tip of the month
Dr. Doug Hedden Dr. Doug Hedden

When I started my career, my scope of practice was about 80 per cent clinical. I performed adult and pediatric spinal orthopaedic surgeries and would have clinics of up to 120 patients a day. Today, I work fully in medical administration as the executive director of the Professional Practice and Membership Office at the Royal College.

The infographic below shows how I made the transition from mostly clinical practice to mostly medical administration, and how I adjusted my Maintenance of Certification (MOC) activities to keep pace.

The key to my transitions: adjust the subject matter, not the activities

What I learned (and what I hope is encouraging for those who want to make the same transition) is that the types of learning activities that I engaged in did not substantially change. While today I don’t attend rounds anymore; journal reading, coursework, conferences and society memberships are still a big part of my life as a medical administrator (and my identity as a physician).

What did change is the subject matter.

Although I used to take surgical courses to brush up on the latest techniques in my discipline, today I take courses on negotiation, conflict management, budgeting and other leadership skills. My reading is also now more focused on understanding how my organization can help influence overarching trends in medicine, rather than how I can help influence the outcome of an individual patient.

With some small adjustments, your MOC can easily be adapted to support your changing career roles and scope of practice.

My checklist for stepping into a leadership role
Be prepared to eventually give up call. At the 40% clinical/60% medical administration mark, I had to give it up to focus on my increasingly administrative responsibilities.
Anticipate the skills that you will need in your new role in medical administration. Be honest with yourself and focus on areas where you know you could improve. For example, as a lifelong introvert I knew I needed to take a course in conflict negotiation. It helped me understand different leadership styles and develop the problem-solving and people skills required to step into a director role.
Understand the organization you are stepping into before you get there. A nurse I once worked with gave me a book called Right From the Start (Harvard Business Review Press, 2005). It helped prepare me to negotiate a new organization's strategy, affairs and culture.
Talk to people in similar positions to understand issues of strategic importance. For example, I’m doing some reading and a personal learning project to better understand the effect that residential schools had on Indigenous health. This will better prepare me for when the Royal College helps universities embed this topic into their postgraduate curricula.