Interview with Mr. Paul Esselman

On this week’s episode of the PNC podcast, Paul Esselman returns to the show to discuss new leadership roles for the restless physician executive.

Paul is the President and Managing Director of Cejka Search, a health care executive search firm that focuses on leadership positions. He describes how the spectrum of leadership roles for physicians has expanded beyond the Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director roles of the past. Physician leaders must now be multifaceted, bridging ambulatory, inpatient, post-acute and long-term care.

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest-running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country, with over 650 graduates. And, unlike other programs, which typically run 1 – 1/2 to 2 years, this program only takes a year to complete. Recently, Economist Magazine ranked the business school #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA.

While in the program, you'll participate in a company project, thereby contributing to your organization. As a result, University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations. And they've become entrepreneurs and business owners.

By joining the University of Tennessee physician executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills needed to advance your career. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or go to

The Restless Physician Executive

In recent years, more physicians are stepping into roles such as Chief Integration Officer, Chief Transformation Officer and Chief Operating Officer. In this episode, Paul explains the responsibilities of these leadership positions.

Before seeking such a position, however, Paul encourages physicians to ask themselves, “Is this really what I want to do?” Some physicians find that they miss patient care, while others enjoy spending time with the board or out in their community.

Sharpen Your Skills

For aspiring physician leaders, Paul suggests that you first broaden your experience. Join committees and volunteer for leadership roles whenever possible. This will demonstrate your ability to accept additional responsibilities. And it is important for your resume to reflect growth over time.

Second, Paul advises that every leader needs to have at least one mentor. Experienced leaders in your field can ensure that you are on the right path to meet your goals.

Focus on the role that you have in hand. Do a very good job there because you have to be highly successful in your current role. Show progress, deliver on current responsibilities, and learn how to connect with people. And then… opportunities will come to you.

Paul Esselman

Third, Paul says to focus on your interpersonal skills. Colleagues who can speak to your ability to collaborate will differentiate you from high-achieving physicians who have cracked a lot of eggs on their leadership journey.

Lastly, Paul recognizes that advanced degrees are important, but experience is equally important. Being able to explain the value of your education is more important than simply having the degree.


The Turn in the Road

Finally, Paul gives three bits of advice for anyone looking to take on a leadership role in the future:

  1. Be mindful of the population you care for. Knowing the demographics of your community allows you to adjust to its needs and speak to its members.
  1. Think about the ways health care can evolve with technology. As communication becomes more iPad- and cell phone-based, physicians must understand how to use technology to interact with patients as effortlessly as possible.
  1. Consider the implications of the payer/payee system. The payment system affects the care patients receive, and as leaders, physicians must ask critical questions about their role in shaping that system.

Links for today's episode:

Thanks to our sponsor…

Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at

I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.

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Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton.


The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business. 

Many of the links that I refer you to, and that you’ll find in the show notes, are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you, that I have personally used or am very familiar with.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career. 

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