How to Become a Chief Medical Officer

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How to Become a Chief Medical Officer

A chief medical officer is an administrative hospital executive, i.e, he is responsible for the managerial duties at hospitals and clinics. This CareerStint article tells you how to become a chief medical officer.

A General Perception:
Most of the chief medical officers and clinical development consultants believe that their decisions can help speed up the time required to market and expand the organization.

If you are under the impression that the word ‘chief’ here is not of great significance, you might need to hold your horses right there. This designation is not something you achieve in a day, it takes years of practice and hard work. A chief medical officer (CMO) is basically a doctor who ensures that the hospital runs smoothly, without any glitches. Alternative posts are called chief operations officer (COO), chief executive officer (CEO), and chief information officer (CIO). A lot of people are confused between these terms and the post of a chief medical information/informatics officer (CMIO), but the latter basically reports to any of the former options. A CMIO works under a CIO/CMO/COO/CEO. The qualifications and other requirements that you need to become a chief medical officer are enlisted in the paragraphs below.

Job Description
As a CMO, your job duties are to:

▲ Develop plans for disease management.
▲ Coordinate the job duties of all the hospital staff.
▲ Assist in hiring, firing, and training hospital staff.
▲ Maintain relationships with medical institutions.
▲ Oversee all the administrative duties of the hospital.
▲ Direct the organization’s medical programs.
▲ Comply with the set accreditation standards.
▲ Coordinate sales and marketing for clients.


A CMO needs to possess the following traits:

  • Business acumen
  • Organizational skills
  • Knowledge of medical terminology and procedures
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • An analytical mind
  • Ability to handle financial/statistical data
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Multitasking skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Strategic thought process

Medical School
  • A person aspiring to be a chief medical officer needs to complete medical school.
  • It would help if a combination of subjects like biology, chemistry, math, and statistics are taken together in high school.
  • This will help enrich your financial skills as well as knowledge of biology, thus laying the foundation for medical school.
  • After your high school graduation, you can major in life sciences.
  • You have to work very hard to pave your way to medical school. Once you get in, there’s no looking back.
Certification Exam
  • After graduation, you need to complete your residency, which may last between 2-4 years.
  • To be a qualified CMO, you need to work for a few years. Join a clinic or a hospital or a private practice as a general physician. Work for about 5 to 6 years (to say the least). You can make important contacts during this period.
  • Once you have worked for a while as a physician, you can take the medical board exam and get certified to become a CMO.
  • The government will grant you the necessary license as well, after which you can apply for administrative posts in clinics.
  • Ideally, a master’s degree is not mandatory for this post. However, off late, many hospitals demand an MBA or an MPH to qualify for a CMO.
  • This degree will help you gain sufficient business knowledge, coupled with management and leadership skills.
  • You will need about 5 to 7 years’ experience in the administrative department, apart from supervisory positions.
  • You will need at least three years’ experience in a team environment.
  • Knowledge in databases is an incentive.
  • You will need to have experience in managing budgets, reports, claims, etc.
  • If you fulfill the above criteria, you will qualify for the post of a chief medical officer.
  • CMOs are very well-paid.
  • Their salary range varies between USD 80,000 and USD 300,000.
  • Ironically, this is one of those fields wherein the pay does not vary much with experience.
  • The salary of CMOs was quite high around 2012 -13, though recent statistics reveal that it has slowed down in 2014, and falls between USD 70,000 and USD 180,000.
  • A median salary always reflects the maximum, therefore the actual salary is lesser than that figure.
Job Outlook
  • The job of a CMO is very demanding, given the myriad of job duties. However, it has a fairly decent job market, as per reliable statistics.
  • A CMO can find work at private hospitals, outpatient clinics, cruise liners, corporate in-house medical consultancies, universities, insurance companies, etc.
  • He may even find work in government services or the military agencies.
  • The work environment is in a hospital setting, of course, but he will be working in a professional office atmosphere, just like any regular corporate job with the works – files, computer, documents, cabinets, phones, printers, etc.

A chief medical officer has a plethora of responsibilities on his shoulders. If you intend to choose this career path in medicine, you need to be extremely serious and responsible. In fact, in any medical profession, undoubtedly, there is no room for error. Despite the fact that you only take care of the administration, you have to ensure perfection in your job duties.

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