New Leadership Curriculum Developed for USU

New Leadership Curriculum Developed for USU

A military physician must be more than an excellent clinician - he or she must be prepared to lead, often in high-stress, high-stakes environments such as war zones or areas devastated by natural disas­ters. The Uniformed Services Univer­sity of the Health Sciences has created a groundbreaking new program, Leader­ship Education and Development (LEAD) to help educate its medical students in the leadership skills essential to ensuring effective 21st century health promotion and health care delivery while meeting the needs of the Military Health System (MHS).

The LEAD curriculum will be incor­porated into all four years of the under­graduate program in the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine (SOM), says retired Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker, professor and vice chair for Leadership, Centers and Programs in the school’s De­partment of Military and Emergency Med­icine (MEM). The goal is to ensure that ev­ery USU graduate has the capability to lead interdisciplinary groups of health care pro­fessionals, ensuring optimal patient care and safety even in the most challenging of field environments.

“USU must do more than educate cli­nicians, as important as that task may be,” says Schoomaker. “We must also produce health care professionals who are ready and able to function as high-performing team members, leaders of small groups, and, ultimately, directors of large and complex health care organizations.”

Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and Dr. Charles Rice, USU President, have emphasized the importance of leadership training -- that USU must outpace every institution in the world in health care lead­ership development, and produce highly skilled health care providers and leaders ca­pable of rising to the challenges of the MHS mission.

Last October, SOM Dean Arthur Kellerman directed MEM to implement a comprehensive military medical leadership development program, which was designed by Schoomaker, a former Army Surgeon General; Neil Grunberg, PhD, a professor of medical and social psychology; John McManigle, MD, senior advisor, MEM; and Army Col. (Dr.) Francis O’Connor, chair of MEM. The new program of instruction, developed with input from faculty, staff and students, and comprehensive review of leadership literature and programmatic approaches, including those in use at the military service academies, has been inte­grated into the four-year SOM curriculum starting with the 2014-2015 academic year. The LEAD program will include classroom instruction, field training, and a capstone project.

Several pedagogical sessions have been created to begin LEAD, including ple­nary sessions, small working groups, and interactive experiences relevant to medi­cine and military medicine. For example, sessions will address history and types of leadership; personality type and leadership; emotional intelligence; effective communi­cation; character; communicating difficult information, and crisis communication.

In contemporary medicine, McMani­gle notes, “The achievement of optimal public health and health care require co­ordinated and cooperative teamwork and leadership. The ‘one-stop-shop’ physician no longer exists. Now medical specialties, nursing, and allied health professions must work in a therapeutic alliance with pa­tients to prevent illness and injury, enhance health and well-being, and treat illness and injury.”

The need for leadership and collab­oration is particularly acute in an orga­nization as large as the MHS, which must be ready at all times to deploy health care teams to assist the U.S. armed forces, or sup­port relief efforts for major disasters such as the earthquakes in Pakistan and Haiti or the Indonesian tsunami. All of these situa­tions require strong leadership - including team-building, problem-solving, planning and organization, risk analysis, and con­flict-resolution - in tremendously stressful environments, and all of these skills will be taught to every USU SOM student as part of the LEAD curriculum.

“At USU, we do not consider leader­ship development a privilege reserved for a chosen few - we provide it to all,” said Grunberg. “All of our graduates need to be prepared to be outstanding health care practitioners - and medical leaders - for the uniformed services and the nation. At the leadership academy of the Military Health System, with more than 9.6 million benefi­ciaries, nothing less will do.”

by Mark Rosati