Marie “Tonette” Krousel-Wood, MD, MSPH, FACPM

“It’s encouraging to see major corporations investing in medical experts as Chief Medical Officers to support the health and wellbeing of their employees and customers, and effective healthcare delivery and population health for their organizations.” — This statement launched my response to a recent article in the JAMA Health Forum on “The Growing Role of Chief Medical Officers in Corporations.” Benefiting from unique and diverse preventive medicine training, our physicians are well prepared for a spectrum of leadership roles. The ACPM infographic, Career Pathways in Preventive Medicine, shows the breadth and depth of our specialty, signaling the foundation to serve as medical leaders, including as a Chief Medical Officer (CMO)!

The CMO role requires physicians to engage beyond clinical practice for individual patients to practice management of populations. Trained in clinical and population health, our physicians do just that and have successfully filled the role of CMO or equivalent in numerous local, regional, national and international organizations. Through ACGME-accredited residency training, we acquire the skills and expertise that draw from disciplines including epidemiology, business, and public health to develop and implement relevant and strategic approaches to improve health and wellness for individuals and populations.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the critical need for physician leadership in corporations, public health departments, school systems, government and beyond. The call to action to increase the number of physicians trained in population health for leadership roles (such as CMO) through preventive medicine training could fill gaps in leadership needed to address current and emerging medical and public health threats.

Increasing our exposure to medical students would provide early exposure to the breadth of career opportunities and foundational training for preventive medicine, population health and medical leadership. Experiences with our specialty through medical student rotations with Preventive Medicine residents who are engaged in addressing health and wellness of individuals and their communities at the intersection of clinical care and public health would provide important role models to support the pipeline to our specialty.

Our residency training in preventive medicine provides the core infrastructure in systems thinking, public health, social determinants of health, epidemiology, health care management and environmental health to train physician leaders seeking careers in medical leadership roles. ACPM continues to explore and build networks and partnerships with major corporations and similar organizations in sponsoring resident rotations to provide practice-based experience that allows real-world application of skills, maximizes learning, and ensures a well-trained pipeline of physician leaders.

ACPM continues to advocate for our specialty and ensure our voices are heard and preventive medicine is recognized for its role in public and population health. You can read the full JAMA Health Forum article and my full response on behalf of ACPM.

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