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- Patrick T. O’Gara, MD ()
There is widespread recognition of the need to develop physician leaders who are trained and mentored in several nonclinical competencies that are critical to organizational and health system management (1). Traditionally, leadership skills have not been a feature of medical training. Advancement within the ranks of a department, hospital, or health system has often been based on clinical acumen, research prowess, or educational expertise. Lack of training in such key areas as finance, strategic planning, and executive management can have important consequences not only for the individual, but also for the faculty and institution. The health care environment in which we work has become so complex, the rate of change so steep, and the explosion of knowledge so profound that it is no longer realistic to assume anyone can acquire such skills “on the fly,” let alone learn the essentials of vision setting, communication, inspiration, innovation, and change management. It is essential to allow dedicated time to learn these skills within the framework of a structured curriculum that is aligned with mentored feedback, executive coaching, and established timelines by which explicitly defined goals are to be met. Organizations must create opportunities for its future leaders at early stages in their careers. Simply put, there is no substitute for experience. For many institutions, this is a rate-limiting step. Failure to do so, however, calls into question the depth of commitment to the process.
In recognition of the importance of leadership development and the gaps in current training, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) established the Leadership Academy in 2014. To date, 2 groups of fellows-in-training (FITs) or early career professionals (ECPs) have completed the educational curriculum and a capstone project under the mentorship of 1 or 2 senior ACC members. Freeman and colleagues herein present the results of a voluntary survey completed by three-fourths of the training cohort, which suggests that the skills acquired during this 2-year program have resulted in increased confidence in managing/influencing other team members and in proactively (and successfully) seeking local leadership opportunities. These are important first steps that build on the fundamentals of emotional intelligence, which form the core of the didactic curriculum. Parallels can be drawn with other ACC activities targeted to FITs and ECPs across other domains, such as the How to Become a Cardiovascular Investigator Program, The Emerging Faculty Program, and the Teaching Tomorrow’s Teachers (3-T) Program.
The number of universities offering combined MD/MBA degrees has increased over the past decade. There is immense interest among FITs and ECPs for leadership training not acquired during the standard fellowship program. There is also a tremendous need for competent physician leadership at all levels of the health care enterprise. This may be a propitious time to re-examine the competencies expected of our cardiovascular trainees and the structures in place to make sure there is proper alignment.
- 2018 American College of Cardiology Foundation