One of the first to sign up for the program, Darlene Tad-y, MD, a hospitalist and assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver, says she already has noticed that she has been able to apply concepts she has learned in the academies to work situations: supervising residents, interns, and medical students as the attending physician, serving on hospital committees, and taking a leadership role within her hospitalist group.
She says the Leadership Certification program makes sense for her because she isn’t sure she wants to pursue an MBA but still wants to refine certain skills.
She said that in her project, she will attempt to improve transitions of care, looking specifically at communication at the time of discharge. The project is one that she likely would have undertaken anyway because it’s important to her institution and patient care, but doing it as part of the certification program gives her more resources, along with the chance to earn the certificate.
I’m not the division head, I’m not the chief, but I don’t think that leadership necessarily is bestowed by a title. I think it’s what you’re doing. It’s the actions that you’re taking and the way that you’re approaching things. And it’s a skill set that I feel like you need to work on and develop.
—Darlene Tad-y, MD, assistant professor, University of Colorado Denver
The skills learned through certification would be helpful to anyone, regardless of their supervisory role, she notes.
“I’m not the division head, I’m not the chief, but I don’t think that leadership necessarily is bestowed by a title,” she says. “I think it’s what you’re doing. It’s the actions that you’re taking and the way that you’re approaching things. And it’s a skill set that I feel like you need to work on and develop. And I think that’s what the certification will help me [with].”
Ilan Alhadeff, MD, FHM, program medical director with Cogent HMG who works at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, says his project will involve techniques to increase patient satisfaction scores, focusing largely on the communication that drives those scores.
He is taking leadership in the field seriously, particularly because the demands of hospitalists will be heightened amid healthcare reform efforts.
The importance of quality markers and patient experience will only grow, and hospitalists are positioned to have a big impact on them, he says.
“Hospitals are at big financial risk, which could result in further consolidation of healthcare institutions,” Dr. Alhadeff says. “We’re poised to have the biggest impact on those numbers, [moreso] than any individual primary-care doctor.”
Dr. Alhadeff says it might not be easy to fit the project in, considering all the demands on his time already, but it’s something he feels compelled to do.
“I would [call it akin] to telling a patient they need to find time to exercise,” he says. “There’s no time, but we just have to make time and we have to do it.”
Dr. Holman says the important thing is the learning that takes place while participants are involved in the projects, not necessarily the projects’ results. In a project that aims to reduce 30-day readmission rates, for example, a lot can be learned even if the effort fails.
“In fact, in that scenario, we would expect that the lessons learned would be very robust, would be very rich,” says Dr. Holman, a former SHM president. “And the focus would be on both, perhaps technical reasons why readmission rates went up, but [also] a very significant focus on lessons learned about what things undermined the effort or made the effort less than successful. And it’s those lessons learned that help us grow as leaders, and tying it back to things that we learned in the Leadership Academies and applying it to a real-life scenario.”