Why clinicians make good project managers. Stethoscope & Keyboard
Project management

Why clinicians make good project managers

Psoda blog author avatar
3 November 2015

A lot of healthcare providers use clinicians as project managers from time to time. But it can be rather daunting to be suddenly thrust into a completely new role if you’re an expert in your particular field. However, clinicians – whether doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists or other specialists already have a lot of the skills needed to be a good project manager.
We explore some of these below:

Team player

Healthcare workers constantly work in multi-disciplinary teams. The skills that are applied there are easily transferrable to project management teams


Managing deadlines is a crucial role for any project manager and is something people become better at with experience. Clinicians are constantly having to meet inflexible deadlines and that ability is very useful as a project manager

Subject matter expertise

When managing a project, having first-hand experience is a real bonus and brings significant advantages. In the healthcare setting no-one has more relevant experience than someone with a clinical background

Stakeholder management

Managing your stakeholders is something that clinicians do on a daily basis as part of their day jobs; as such this part of project management should be second nature.
Some areas that clinicians can work on to be a more effective project manager are:

Budget management

Managing project budgets is something that you don’t get exposure to unless you are managing a project – it is also something that takes time to learn as it is more complex than people think.
Some tips to make it easier are:

  • Break your budget down into CAPEX & OPEX
  • Make sure you update your forecast & actual budgets on at least a monthly basis
  • If possible, make sure you capture resource costs via timesheets as it makes tracking resource expenditure much easier

Project management methodology

Most organisations expect projects to be run using a particular methodology. It is worth getting some training in the relevant methodology as it gives you access to tools and templates that make running a project easier

Big picture

When you are a subject matter expert it is often difficult to change your focus from your area of expertise. To be an effective project manager you need to be able to step back and see the bigger picture. You also need to be able to implement solutions that might be detrimental to specific clinical areas but good for the overall healthcare environment.


Although making a major change in your career can be daunting you might find that you already have a lot of the skills you need for the new path. Add some focussed training and the transition will be a lot easier and you will be back on your feet before you know it.

Rhona Aylward avatar
Written by Rhona Aylward
Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

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