QUESTION: Our newly elected Chief of Staff is currently a department chair at our hospital. She really likes the department chair position and is good at it. At the same time, she also wants to fulfill the will of the Active Staff members who elected her to serve as the Chief of Staff. Can she serve both positions at the same time?
ANSWER: Serving in two leadership roles in the same hospital is not technically a conflict of interest, so unless there is a provision in the medical staff bylaws stating that an individual cannot serve in both roles, there is likely no technical reason that she cannot serve in both positions. That said, practically speaking, it may not be the best idea. Department chairs often have significant duties in terms of performing mentoring efforts and collegial counseling sessions with members of their departments in addition to their obligations to reviewing applicants for appointment and reappointment as well as service on the MEC. In large clinical departments, these responsibilities can be quite intensive. The Chief of Staff will generally be intimately involved in the active management of the most significant medical staff issues. Combine those two sets of responsibilities and it is a lot for one person to do, and to do well. In our experience, when department chairs or division chiefs are elected to serve as either the Vice Chief of Staff or the Chief of Staff, they have typically resigned the department chair/division chief position that they previously held.