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Designing a physician leadership development program based on effective models of physician education

Hopkins, Joseph; Fassiotto, Magali; Ku, Manwai Candy; Mammo, Dagem; Valantine, Hannah

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0000000000000146

Background: Because of modern challenges in quality, safety, patient centeredness, and cost, health care is evolving to adopt leadership practices of highly effective organizations. Traditional physician training includes little focus on developing leadership skills, which necessitates further training to achieve the potential of collaborative management.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to design a leadership program using established models for continuing medical education and to assess its impact on participants’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and performance.

Methodology/Approach: The program, delivered over 9 months, addressed leadership topics and was designed around a framework based on how physicians learn new clinical skills, using multiple experiential learning methods, including a leadership active learning project. The program was evaluated using Kirkpatrick’s assessment levels: reaction to the program, learning, changes in behavior, and results. Four cohorts are evaluated (2008–2011).

Results: Reaction: The program was rated highly by participants (mean = 4.5 of 5). Learning: Significant improvements were reported in knowledge, skills, and attitudes surrounding leadership competencies. Behavior: The majority (80%–100%) of participants reported plans to use learned leadership skills in their work. Improved team leadership behaviors were shown by increased engagement of project team members. Results: All participants completed a team project during the program, adding value to the institution.

Conclusion: Results support the hypothesis that learning approaches known to be effective for other types of physician education are successful when applied to leadership development training. Across all four assessment levels, the program was effective in improving leadership competencies essential to meeting the complex needs of the changing health care system.

Practice implications: Developing in-house programs that fit the framework established for continuing medical education can increase physician leadership competencies and add value to health care institutions. Active learning projects provide opportunities to practice leadership skills addressing real word problems.

Joseph Hopkins, MD, MMM, is Clinical Professor of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, California; and Director Stanford Leadership Development Program, Associate Chief Medical Officer, and Senior Medical Director for Quality, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, California. E-mail:

Magali Fassiotto, PhD, is Assistant Dean in the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, Stanford University School of Medicine, California.

Manwai Candy Ku, MA, PhD, is Research Scientist, Apple, Inc., Cupertino, California (formerly Research Scientist in the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, Stanford University School of Medicine, California).

Dagem Mammo, BS, is Medical Student, Stanford University School of Medicine, California.

Hannah Valantine, MD, MRCP, FACC, is Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; and Professor of Medicine and co-Director of the Stanford Leadership Development Program, Stanford University School of Medicine, California (formerly co-Director of the Stanford Leadership Development Program and Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Leadership, Stanford University School of Medicine, California).

Human Subjects Research Waiver: Stanford’s Institutional Review Board determined that this study did not require review because of its role as a quality improvement project evaluating the effectiveness of the Stanford Leadership Development Program.

This study was funded in part by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Hannah Valantine, Manwai Candy Ku, and Dagem Mammo were supported by the NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award (1DP4GM096849-01) and by the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Education and Research (1UL1 RR025744-01).

The authors have no conflict of interest, financial or other.

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