ACP program introduces leadership skills to young members

ACP's LEAD program (Leadership Enhancement and Development) grew out of the realization that training physicians in leadership skills would benefit both physicians and the College. ACP Hospitalist talked to Erik Wallace, FACP, who led the inaugural LEAD precourse at Internal Medicine 2008.

ACP's LEAD program (Leadership Enhancement and Development) grew out of the realization that training physicians in leadership skills would benefit both physicians and the College. Highly competent physicians often lack critical business skills necessary to career success, while ACP needs talented leaders within its membership to help advocate on issues important to the future of internal medicine.

LEAD launched at Internal Medicine 2008, where 86 ACP Members and Fellows gathered to take their first step toward LEAD certification. Members who meet several criteria in three years will earn a certificate recognizing their leadership skills. To learn more about the program's mission and goals, ACP Hospitalist talked to Erik Wallace, FACP, Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine residency program at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Tulsa. Dr. Wallace, who led the inaugural LEAD precourse at Internal Medicine 2008, also serves as 2008-09 Chair of the ACP's National Council of Young Physicians.

Q: What is the purpose of the College's LEAD program?

A: The College recognizes that young physicians are the future both for the College and for medicine in general. Effective leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes are essential for physicians to guide our field into the future. The LEAD program's role is not only to provide something of value to Members and Fellows for the benefit of the College, but to provide leadership training so that general internists and subspecialists can be more effective leaders at their home institutions as well as on a local, state and national level.

Q: Is this programming primarily for use in a clinical, academic or political setting?

A: Internists who are seeking LEAD certification come from diverse backgrounds. They are private practice physicians, they are in academic settings, and some are in government service. They may or may not be political advocates. The program is designed to give participants a general set of leadership skills that they can use in any setting.

Q: What is the benefit of participating in this program?

A: Physicians in medical school get no formal teaching on leadership skills. However, physicians need to be effective leaders, perhaps more than they might realize when they are in medical school. Even if you consider yourself to be a small-town doctor and you have a solo private practice, there are still other people that you need to work with to be successful—your nursing staff, your front office staff and insurance companies. And you need to be an effective patient advocate, certainly on a local level and perhaps at the state and national levels.

Q: Why does the LEAD program use hands-on activities?

A: To truly learn how to communicate, to learn how to work with a team, to learn how to negotiate, you actually have to do it. You can't listen to somebody talk about it. One of the faculty members presented a brief introduction to each topic. But the key to the success of the program was to break people into small groups and have them work through scenarios so they could learn how to communicate with one another, learn how to work effectively within a team, and then learn how to negotiate in a difficult situation.

Q: If members and fellows who wish to participate in the LEAD program did not attend the course, how can they catch up?

A: LEAD certification requires completion of five of seven criteria over the course of three years, so there are many opportunities to work toward that goal. Those include:

  1. 1. Attain or maintain active Fellowship status within the College;
  2. 2. Attend at least seven hours of CME focused on leadership competencies, including at least three hours sponsored by the ACP at the local or the national level;
  3. 3. Participate in at least one of the five pathways to leadership at the chapter level;
  4. 4. Serve on an ACP national workgroup, committee or council;
  5. 5. Serve as a mentor/facilitator in at least one ACP-sponsored mentoring event or program;
  6. 6. Participate in Leadership Day or similar state legislative activity;
  7. 7. Demonstrate leadership competencies in the community.

Q: What is the value of getting a LEAD certificate?

A: The certificate is important for physicians seeking a promotion or a new job, but also it is appropriate simply to give yourself the validation. “Here are some important skills I have learned and will apply, no matter what practice setting I'm in.”