How Medical Staff Professionals can be Facilitators

How Medical Staff Professionals can be Facilitators

Nov 24, 2021

Author: Jackie Jones, CPMSM; Senior Consultant; VerityStream


As a Medical Staff Professional (MSP) in a leadership role, you may find you wear many hats: boss, teacher, coach, mentor, legal advisor and facilitator. In researching the characteristics of a good facilitator, we located the “Top 10 Characteristics of an Excellent Group Facilitator” from Facilitation First™, a company who has been training facilitators for more than 25 years. These characteristics include:


  1. Effective Communication Skills
  2. Open to Change
  3. Keen Observation Skills
  4. Demonstrates Unwavering Positivity
  5. Authentic
  6. Maintains Constant Neutrality
  7. Energetic Personality
  8. Promotes Constructive Feedback
  9. “Asks” Versus “Tells”
  10. Patience

There are also many types of facilitators from business facilitators to educational/training facilitators, and small group facilitators, each requiring different skill sets depending on the activity. These characteristics are essential as you conduct committee meetings, train new medical staff taking on new leadership roles and mentoring new MSPs.


I reached out to Melissa Walters, CPCS, CPMSM, FMSP, Assistant Vice President Medical Staff Operations at MedStar to ask her thoughts on her role as a facilitator.


About Melissa


Melissa WaltersMelissa has over thirty years’ experience in the healthcare field as it relates to credentialing, privileging, physician contracting, compliance, and the self-governed Medical Staff. Melissa’s expertise is in establishing centralized credentialing departments for large academic and community health systems while meeting various accreditation standards (i.e., The Joint Commission (TJC), Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)) and facility specific Medical Staff Bylaws, Rules and Regulations.


Melissa holds a Master’s in Health Administration, Bachelor’s in Justice Studies and national certifications in Medical Services Management (CPMSM) and Provider Credentialing Specialist (CPCS). Melissa was inducted as a NAMSS Fellow (FSMP) in September 2018.


Melissa has served in various leadership positions both at the State and National Associations level. She is past President of the National Association Medical Staff Services (NAMSS) in 2013. She recently served at NAMSS as the Chair, Leadership Development Workgroup (2018 – March 2020) and is now serving NAMSS in a faculty position. Melissa often lends her expertise to state and national educational providers and professional organizations by speaking at meetings and serving on a variety of advisory boards.


In your position as Assistant Vice President at MedStar how do you see yourself as a facilitator?


I don’t really see myself as a facilitator, I see myself as a mentor to my staff. My role as a facilitator as it relates specifically to medical staff committee meetings is really one where I like to sit down and talk with the committee chairs and have a conversation about what needs to be accomplished during the meeting. My approach is usually to sit down with the chair(s) at the beginning of the year to map out (per the Bylaws) what needs to occur and when it needs to occur. My goal is to make them successful, and I communicate that to them. Since these roles’ turnover, they look to their MSP leader to provide the roadmap. As issues/topics come up throughout the year, my role is to hold conversations with the chair(s) and pre-plan the meetings to determine the agenda topics and anticipate the “requested” action that may be proposed. The role of a facilitator is all about building a relationship, a relationship of trust, with your physician leaders.


In your opinion what qualities does a person require to be a good facilitator?


A good facilitator should know their team and be able relate to their audience. By doing so, you are encouraging their participation and building a relationship. In an MSP organizational/leadership position, these qualities include empowering your team members. Allow them to participate in various meetings, assist in policy development, research red flags independently and develop an action plan on how to proceed. A good facilitator also knows when to provide guidance. Guiding employees to achieve their own resolution instead of giving a definitive answer engages their critical thinks skills and empowers them to solve challenges on their own. Most importantly though, a good facilitator knows how to implement conflict resolutions strategies and/or handle crucial conversations. They deal with conflict.


How have these qualities benefitted you in your career in Medical Staff Services?


Benefit… hmm… let’s just say “it’s been a journey” and along the journey many lessons have been learned. I learned that engaged employees are productive and loyal employees. By empowering and guiding (mentoring) my employees, I have had the pleasure of seeing many of them excel into leadership positions within the profession. Conflict never goes away until you deal with it and your employees want you to deal with it. Though they may not like the outcome, you will be respected for addressing the situation and how you handle the situation. It is important to note, that one leads by example.


Do you have any recommendations for a new Medical Staff Professional just starting in a leadership role?


RUN…Just kidding. Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Be a leader for the right reason. Get to know your team on a personal level. Specifically, as an MSP in our current world of technology and digital platforms, find a way to engage with your medical staff/medical staff leadership. It is important to build that trust. Find a mentor that understands what you do. Someone you can call and talk “MSP talk” to. Let’s face it, we are the only ones who truly understand what it is that we do every day.


Heartfelt thanks to Melissa for sharing her thoughts on being a facilitator in her role as Assistant Vice President Medical Staff Operations at MedStar. As each of us progress up the leadership ladder we can each attest to the importance of developing the many characteristics/skills required to becoming an effective facilitator to conduct the myriad of responsibilities and emPOWERing you to become a valued Medical Staff Professional.

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