For hospitalists attending SHM’s Leadership Academy, the final day isn’t the end of the experience. It’s just the beginning.
Now in its fifth year, the Leadership Academy provides hospitalists of all backgrounds the opportunity to come together and address the managerial and practical issues of HM that aren’t covered in medical school. The demand for leadership training within the specialty has been so great that the Leadership Academy is now split into two levels; Level II is reserved for hospitalists who have completed the Level I program or have an MBA.
Level I covers the fundamental elements for leading groups—and change—within a hospital. Hospitalists learn how to take on leadership roles, better understand group dynamics, manage conflict, and improve communication.
Level II, which traditionally has had smaller class sizes, goes deeper into managerial issues that relate to hospital administration and leadership. The advanced program features such all-day sessions as “Financial Storytelling” and the popular “Meta-Leadership in Hospital Medicine.”
Leadership Academy’s true impact is felt shortly after hospitalists return to their hospitals. “Hospitalists send e-mails within a week of the end of Leadership Academy,” says Larry Wellikson, MD, FHM, CEO of SHM. “They tell us about the tangible actions that they’ve already taken as a result of what they’ve learned over the four days of Leadership Academy. … In just a few days, hospitalists learn from some of the best in the specialty and thought leaders outside of the field, too.”
—Rachel George, MD, regional medical director, vice president of operations, Cogent Healthcare, Brentwood, Tenn.
Hospitalists—and those who work with them—often see the change the academy has on a physician soon after the attendee returns to work. “It’s like a light bulb goes on,” says Rachel George, MD, regional medical director and vice president for operations at Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cogent Healthcare. “They get it. They come back from the Leadership Academy with an understanding of how to lead their own groups and manage through change.”
Dr. George, who attended Level I and Level II programs and now facilitates academy sessions, says Leadership Academy is “almost mandatory” for Cogent’s medical directors. The company encourages all of its physicians to attend.
One of the most valuable aspects of the program, she says, is the long-term impact. Dr. George completed the advanced course in 2005 and still enjoys catching up with her fellow academy attendees, as well as learning about what they have achieved in the subsequent years. Many classmates have become medical directors, and she says they credit the academy for many of the positive changes in their groups.
“It’s absolutely worth it,” she says. “Both levels are worth the time and investment. And ‘leadership’ doesn’t necessarily mean being a leader of your group. It can also mean being a leader of change and initiatives within the hospital.”
Active Training for Active Leaders
Although the word “academy” might conjure ideas of long-winded seminars or Socratic debate, SHM’s Leadership Academy emphasizes a hands-on learning style. Hospitalists are divided into groups to tackle real-world issues that affect hospitals, hospitalists, and patients, such as QI initiatives and ED throughput.
The courses feature some of the most engaging speakers in HM and insightful presentations from experts outside of the specialty.
The faculty also includes nonphysicians; for example, Tim Keogh, PhD, who teaches postgraduate managerial communications at The Citadel School of Business Administration in Charleston, S.C., and Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, offers a unique perspective to hospitalists who are often accustomed to learning only from those within the specialty.