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First Ever SHM Leadership Academy— A Rousing Success


What would prompt someone to exclaim “fantastic, inspirational, and motivational,” and trigger adults to hug each other when it is time to say goodbye? The first-ever SHM Leadership Academy welcomed 110 hospitalist leaders to the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, AZ on January 10–13, 2005. A resounding success, the Leadership Academy offered instruction in leading change, communicating effectively, handling conflict and negotiation, strategic planning, and interpreting hospital business drivers. Two years in the making, this course combined an outstanding national faculty with small group learning exercises to begin the process of training hospitalists who will lead important initiatives as we shape the hospital of the future.

At the 2003 SHM Annual Meeting in San Diego, a standing room crowd of about 200 hospitalists at the Leadership Forum expressed their need for advanced leadership training. Responding to obvious demand, SHM developed a successful, soldout 1-day Leadership Pre-Course held in New Orleans at the 2004 SHM Annual Meeting. Building on this pre-course and again reacting to the requests of SHM members, Co-Directors Russell Holman and Mark Williams designed the Leadership Academy to provide more in-depth training over 4 days. Assisted by Tina Budnitz, SHM Senior Advisor for Planning and Development, this course was developed to address the leadership training needs of hospitalists. As an example of its resounding success, one participant made the following comment. “Even with 18 years of clinical/administrative experience as well as an MBA, this course was a learning experience and I gained and reinforced critical areas of thinking and actions.”

Faculty Mike Guthrie Works through problem with Leadership Academy participant.

Faculty Mike Guthrie Works through problem with Leadership Academy participant.

Credit for this success deservedly should be attributed to the outstanding faculty. SHM’s CEO Larry Wellikson led the first day, eloquently delineating the leadership challenges in hospital medicine. The audience appreciated how hospital medicine is evolving rapidly, still defining itself, and how hospitalists will be developing metrics for success. The remainder of the first day allowed participants to evaluate their own strengths and assess how their unique styles impact interactions with others. Using the Strength Deployment Inventory®, David Javitch, PhD explored how “reds,” “greens,” and “blues” approach situations and communicate with their colleagues. Javitch, an organizational psychologist from Harvard, demonstrated how individual styles of communication and interaction influence success at management and leadership. SHM Member Eric Howell, MD moderated a discussion featuring a movie capturing common hospital-based examples of conflict and led participants through techniques for conflict resolution and negotiation.

On the second day, Michael Guthrie, MD, MBA identified business drivers for hospital survival and success. Guthrie currently serves as a senior executive for a large national health alliance and has experience as a health system CEO, medical director, and consultant on performance improvement. Guthrie finished the morning by helping attendees interpret hospital performance reports and associated metrics and determine how such measures should guide leadership planning and decision making.

The next day was highlighted by sessions led by Jack Silversin, DMD, DrPH from Harvard, using table exercises and real world examples to demonstrate how to lead change. A nationally recognized expert in change management and co-author of “Leading Physicians through Change: How to Achieve and Sustain Results,” Dr. Silversin actively stimulated attendees to appraise their situations at home. He showed participants how to develop shared organizational vision, strengthen leadership, and accelerate implementation of change. Afterwards, Holman and Williams coordinated a series of sessions on strategic planning. They used multiple examples and exercises to aid attendees in developing vision and mission statements, as well as “SMART” goals.

The final day focused on communication. An experienced educator, Kathleen Miner, PhD, MPH, MEd, reviewed communication theory and how it applies to our everyday conversations and interactions. Miner, an Associate Dean for Public Health at Emory University, brought decades of experience to her presentation. The course ended with Holman recapping how to use what we learned to achieve success as a leader.

Overall, the course was structured to facilitate interaction and small group exercises. The interactive sessions provided opportunities for participants to apply concepts.

Mark Williams, MD stresses SMART principles of Strategic Planning

Mark Williams, MD stresses SMART principles of Strategic Planning

Use of facilitators greatly augmented the impact of this training. Participants in the course sat ten to a table, and each table was led by an experienced hospitalist leader trained to be a facilitator. We were extraordinarily fortunate to have leaders in hospital medicine as facilitators including: Mary Jo Gorman, Bill Atchley, Pat Cawley, Lisa Kettering, Alpesh Amin, Ron Greeno, Burke Kealey, Eric Siegal, Stacy Goldsholl, and Eric Howell.

The impact of the meeting was powerfully described by a facilitator, “I’ve never before experienced such sustained energy and enthusiasm at a meeting. People literally spent hours after the didactic sessions talking, sharing ideas, and commiserating. Speaks to the pent-up need for this, and the effectiveness of the curriculum in galvanizing the group.”

No meeting can be such a success without tremendous support from SHM staff. Angela Musial and Erica Pearson deserve our sincere thanks for handling all the logistical issues and guaranteeing a terrific time for everyone who attended. They ensured that everything worked without a hitch including two wonderful receptions, which fostered networking and opportunities to share challenges and success stories.

The Society of Hospital Medicine will hold another Leadership Academy this Fall: September 12–15 in Vail, Colorado. The learning objectives for the Leadership Academy highlight the skills hospitalists can gain by attending.

  • Evaluate personal leadership strengths and weaknesses and apply them to everyday leadership and management challenges
  • Effectively advocate the value of their Hospital Medicine program
  • Predict and plan for the near-term challenges affecting the viability of their Hospital Medicine program
  • Improve patient outcomes through successful planning, allocation of resources, collaboration, teamwork, and execution
  • Create and execute a communication strategy for all key constituencies
  • Interpret key hospital drivers
  • Examine how hospital performance metrics are derived and how hospital medicine practices can influence and impact these metrics
  • Implement methods of effective change through leadership, shared vision, and managing the organizational culture
  • Utilize strategic planning to define a vision for their program, prioritize efforts, and achieve designated goals

Registration will again be limited to 100 hospitalist leaders and we expect this to fill quickly. The first Leadership Academy was sold out months before it was held, and interest in the September 2005 Leadership Academy in Vail is equally as strong after the rousing success of the January meeting in Tucson. If you are interested in attending, registration information can be found on page 19, at the SHM Web site at, or by calling SHM at 800-843-3360. We look forward to seeing you there.

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