The Leadership Academy, presented by SHM, was held in October in Austin, Texas. Three courses were offered: Leadership Foundations and two Advanced Leadership courses, Influential Management and Mastering Teamwork. These sessions are designed to offer training in leadership skills specifically for those working in the field of hospital medicine, as well as to provide career development and extensive networking among colleagues. I had the opportunity to attend the Mastering Teamwork course this year as one of a handful of pediatric hospitalists.
A large majority of attendees at the conference were hospitalists in internal medicine, but many other areas were represented as well, including pediatrics, family medicine, pulmonary/critical care, palliative care, and hospital administration. Although I was in the minority as a pediatric hospitalist, I found that all the information discussed was applicable to my own practice setting.
The Mastering Teamwork session began with a presentation given by Mark Williams, MD, FACP, MHM, and Amit Prachand, MEng, on secrets and misconceptions of teamwork. They discussed ways to improve organizational health by developing trust within the team, addressing and nurturing healthy conflict, obtaining commitment through clarity and buy-in, encouraging accountability, and focusing on team results. They also shared practical ideas for making meetings more valuable, with suggestions for preparation, the meeting itself, and follow-up.
Day two of Mastering Teamwork consisted of lectures and discussion on meta-leadership (defined as “overarching leadership that strategically links the work of different agencies”) within and throughout one’s sphere of influence. Leonard Marcus, PhD, a national leader in the fields of healthcare negotiation, conflict resolution, and emergency preparedness, led this session.
A new course offered to all levels of the Leadership Academy this year, on physician burnout, was led by Kay Cannon, MBA, MCC, a nationally recognized executive coach. This session, which certainly hit close to home for many attendees, was very well attended and well received. Causes include poor job fit and work demands exceeding resources. Signs of burnout were discussed, including fatigue, anxiety, depression, health problems, and breakdown. Burnout can have significant effects in the work place, from early retirements to poor morale to poor patient care. Cannon presented ways to improve burnout, with the idea of achieving a better balance between demands and resources.
Cannon also presented in the Mastering Teamwork course. Her topic, “Investing in Yourself,” consisted of a discussion about career paths and planning. Course members were encouraged to engage in self-assessment and a situational assessment of their positions and organizations. Attendees began to delineate personal and career goals and to develop action plans based on these goals.
To close the course, Jeffrey Wiese, MD, MHM, spoke on advanced communications. This broad session offered practical advice in multiple areas. Specific topics included building teams through mission and purpose, encouraging loyalty, and motivating performance and happiness, while touching on burnout and feedback as well. He also discussed leading a team through change, dealing with politics within an organization, and making decisions.
“Dr. Wiese was amazing; his first day hit the nail on the head in forming and keeping a team. He was blunt and to the point, and it was so helpful,” said Kayce Morton, DO, who attended the Mastering Teamwork session. “Dr. Marcus accentuated leadership at its best through his stories. Kay Cannon was great at discussing topics that affect our leadership every day—it was like a therapy session. This was a very stimulating conference.”
The Leadership Academy, and, specifically, the Mastering Teamwork course, was very valuable. The lessons learned were highly practical, regardless of one’s area of practice and level of leadership. Each of the speakers was engaging and well received. TH