Skip Navigation LinksHome > December 2010 - Volume 85 - Issue 12 > Leadership Can and Should Be Taught
Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181fa3a69
Letters to the Editor

Leadership Can and Should Be Taught

Ciampa, Erin J.; Hunt, Aubrey A.; Dermody, Terence S. MD

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MSTP student, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee. (Ciampa, Hunt)

Professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology, and director, Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee; terry.dermody@vanderbilt.edu. (Dermody)

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To the Editor:

A successful career in academic medicine depends on many factors, but a hallmark that receives little attention in predoctoral curricula is aptitude in leadership. In particular, physician–scientists must learn and apply skills in recruitment, retention, communication, motivation, providing feedback, and strategic planning, among other competencies. Despite ubiquitous medical school mission statements declaring a focus on training “the next generation of leaders” (or similar themes), most curricula offer exposure to leadership skills primarily through the passive observation of peers and mentors who may provide inconsistent or even ineffective role models.

Combined MD/PhD programs, which seek to train leaders in academic medicine, are ideal settings for integrating leadership training into the formal predoctoral curriculum. Student–faculty collaborations are one way to develop leadership curricula in such programs. For example, at the Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program, a group of MD/PhD students worked in partnership with content experts in management and education to develop a case-based curriculum in leadership (see https://medschool.mc.vanderbilt.edu/mstp/leadership-workshop). In our experience, the collaboration of students and faculty served a critical function in designing the curriculum and allowing adaptation of standard frameworks of leadership and organizational behavior into constructs relevant to academic medicine.

We urge educators to find their own ways to address the important, well-documented need1–3 for more predoctoral leadership training.

Erin J. Ciampa

MSTP student, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Aubrey A. Hunt

MSTP student, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Terence S. Dermody, MD

Professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology, and director, Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee; terry.dermody@vanderbilt.edu.

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References

1 Davis G. Doctors without orders. Am Scientist. 2005;93(3 suppl).

2 National Research Council of the National Academies. Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005.

3 Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty. 2nd ed. Chevy Chase, Md: Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund; 2006.

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges

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