A leadership development program for surgeons: First-year participant evaluation


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Abstract

Background.In a dynamic health care system, strong leadership has never been more important for surgeons. Little is known about how to design and conduct effectively a leadership program specifically for surgeons. We sought to evaluate critically a Leadership Development Program for practicing surgeons by exploring how the program's strengths and weaknesses affected the surgeons' development as physician-leaders.Methods.At a large academic institution, we conducted semistructured interviews with 21 surgical faculty members who applied voluntarily, were selected, and completed a newly created Leadership Development Program in December 2012. Interview transcripts underwent qualitative descriptive analysis with thematic coding based on grounded theory. Themes were extracted regarding surgeons' evaluations of the program on their development as physician-leaders.Results.After completing the program, surgeons reported personal improvements in the following 4 areas: self-empowerment to lead, self-awareness, team-building skills, and knowledge in business and leadership. Surgeons felt “more confident about stepping up as a leader” and more aware of “how others view me and my interactions.” They described a stronger grasp on “giving feedback” as well as a better understanding of “business/organizational issues.” Overall, surgeon-participants reported positive impacts of the program on their day-to-day work activities and general career perspective as well as on their long-term career development plans. Surgeons also recommended areas where the program could potentially be improved.Conclusion.These interviews detailed self-reported improvements in leadership knowledge and capabilities for practicing surgeons who completed a Leadership Development Program. A curriculum designed specifically for surgeons may enable future programs to equip surgeons better for important leadership roles in a complex health care environment.

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