Medical Directors function in a multifaceted capacity, spearheading key aspects of a medical practice’s operations. Their work includes implementing policies and procedures, managing expectations of a medical staff, overseeing patient care and acting as a liaison between medical personnel and facility administrators, among others. It’s a role that matches advanced clinical knowledge with management and administrative responsibility—and one that many physicians would technically qualify to serve in. But not everyone has the makings of a successful Medical Director.

In addition to suitable clinical experience and administrative know-how, the following attributes make for qualities of a good Medical Director (MD):

1. Patient Care is #1. Patients are the lifeblood of a medical facility and one of the most important aspects of a Medical Director’s job is to ensure appropriate, quality patient care. An MD who puts patient care first will, at all times, be concerned with how established procedures can be improved to yield the best outcome for patients. How can a good outcome today be made great tomorrow? An effective Medical Director is a sophisticated problem solver who uses astute critical thinking skills to establish and promote a patient-focused atmosphere.

2. Excellent Communicator. Great Medical Directors excel in their ability to communicate. They’re precise and descriptive in outlining objectives and expectations, and they maintain an open line of communication with all of their colleagues. They’re capable of clearly articulating their vision to influence important endeavors. Likewise, an effective communicator knows the best approach for the issue at hand, for example, when is an email okay and when is a personal visit the better option? A good Medical Director has no qualms about addressing delicate issues in a manner that aims to achieve the best outcome.

3. Organization. Exceptional organizational skills are a must for a successful Medical Director. Because they’re responsible for such a broad range of tasks and typically experience very busy days, it’s imperative for Medical Directors to develop a system for staying organized that extends to his or her staff and administrators. This scrupulous organization includes prudent planning of individual and team time and calendars, as well as keeping paperwork and email orderly and maintaining a project schedule that’s accessible and easily understood by everyone. Top-notch organization is essential for anyone in a managerial role.

4. Is Present, Visible and Responsive. Perhaps the quality that facilities find most desirable in their Medical Director is a prioritizing of their own accessibility. Striking a balance between office work and staff engagement can be challenging, but a Medical Director who goes above and beyond to cultivate meaningful relationships with staff and patients and is visible throughout the workplace will produce faster and more effective results that help a facility deliver excellent patient care.

Being responsive is equally important as being present. Today’s technology makes it easy for Medical Directors to respond in real time and it’s vital that they make a habit of responding quickly to all forms of communication—both remotely and on site. Timely response allows the entire team to stay focused on the issue at hand, and prevents unnecessary work or worry.

A Medical Director who wants to be involved, wants to be seen, and does everything in his or her power to be available to those requiring consultationi.e., someone accessible and responsive—will undoubtedly be regarded as dependable, trustworthy and caring.

Being focused, organized, well-versed and present are the keys to performing above expectation and are the basis of the qualities of a good Medical Director.