As the health care environment grows more complex, there is greater opportunity for physician administrative and management leadership. Although physicians in general, and academic physicians in particular, view management as outside their purview, the increased importance of physician administrative leadership represents an opportunity for academic physicians interested in working at the interface of clinical medicine, health care, finance, and management. These physicians are called academic physician administrators and leaders (APALs).
APALs are clinician–administrators whose academic contributions include both scholarly work related to their administrative duties and administrative leadership of academically important programs. However, existing academic career development infrastructure, such as academic promotions, is oriented toward traditional clinician–educator and clinician–researcher faculty. The APAL career path differs from traditional academic pathways because APALs require unique skills, different mentors, and a more expansive definition of academic productivity. This article describes how academic medical institutions could enhance the career development of academic physicians in administrative and leadership positions.