“When we went to medical school, it was culturally more about the doctor as an independent person who would work one-on-one with the patient—it wasn’t about teams,” said Dr. Eavey. “But being the lone ‘leader’ without leadership training isn’t really the model we’ve evolved into now.” Moreover, team leadership will become increasingly essential, say business analysts, who predict a shortage of skilled healthcare professionals that will lead to competition in this area.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2019
Vanderbilt’s cyclical, four-year curriculum is available to residents as well as faculty. Year one focuses on a military model of leadership. “We use the military because they actually teach leadership, and this is real to them,” said Dr. Eavey. “We use the ‘six domains of leadership,’ in which we go through personal characteristics and leadership traits because people have different strengths and weaknesses. From there, you figure out how to work [with] other human beings to establish trust, because that doesn’t happen automatically—you can have a dysfunctional team or a high-functioning team, and we learn the characteristics of a high-functioning team, how to inspire it and support it, and how to enact change within it. We recognize that structurally a healthcare organization is the same as a military structure.”
The second year of the program is dedicated to public speaking, the third to the micro-MBA, and the fourth is a capstone project that focuses on population health and preventive healthcare. A resident can begin with any of the four years.
Since its inception eight years ago, the Vanderbilt leadership program has received a good deal of external validation and has been emulated by otolaryngology (and other specialty) programs across the country. Dr. Eavey reported that “Johns Hopkins has started the military year, and I believe Jefferson is going to start. I’ve also been contacted by Brigham’s Department of Internal Medicine regarding leadership training, by Emory anesthesiology, and the Hospital Corporation of America, which is a for-profit entity.”
“We’re actually trying to lay the groundwork for a healthcare world and jobs that don’t even exist yet. Part of leadership is setting up that foundation, because things are changing rapidly and there’s no need to be threatened by that. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional, but we want our students to prepare themselves for the future.” —LK