Leadership Development for Physicians in Academic Health Centers
Academic health centers in the United States are experiencing major change as a result of the effects of health reform and financial pressures. In addition to the restructuring of the clinical enterprise, academic centers are being challenged to sustain their academic missions and priorities in the face of resource constraints. In order to tackle these challenges, institutions need physicians in administrative positions at all levels who can provide leadership and thoughtful managerial initiatives.
For over forty years Harvard has conducted intensive two-week executive development programs designed specifically for chairs, chiefs, and medical directors in clinical departments at major teaching hospitals. During that time, leaders from institutions in all regions of the United States have participated in and praised these unique educational programs.
Leadership Development for Physicians in Academic Health Centers is designed to serve a wide array of physician leaders. It convenes medical directors and chiefs of divisions from academic health centers together with an interdisciplinary faculty team for two weeks of intensive and systematic study of the critical leadership and management issues faced by physicians in administrative positions and academic health centers.
The curriculum is organized around the following interrelated courses taught by a faculty experienced in executive education for physicians and other key decision-makers in the health system:
- Institutional Strategy
- Financial Analysis
- Operations Management
- Organizational Issues
- Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
- Health Policy
A carefully integrated curriculum permits participants to examine fundamental leadership and managerial issues from the perspective of several disciplines. The overriding purpose for learning concepts, techniques and skills in any of the management disciplines in this program is to understand their managerial use and limitations.
The principal method of instruction in the program is the case method, a technique pioneered and refined at the Harvard Business School. Most of the cases present actual problem situations familiar to physicians in administrative positions at academic health centers.
The case method confronts the participant with an actual management problem, halted at a point where decisions must be made, and empowers the participant to choose a course of action.
Participants go through a three-step study process. First, participants study each case independently. Then they meet in small discussion groups to test their individual analysis against those of their peers. Lastly, the entire class discusses the case, with the professor as a catalyst and guide. The professor points out considerations the class has overlooked; elicits from participants the lessons of experience; pursues each line of investigation to its conclusion; and finally, summarizes the discussion and draws out the major lessons it has taught.
Assigned readings and guest lecturers supplement and augment the use of cases. In addition, an important part of the learning process occurs during the informal exchange of insights and experience among participants and between participants and faculty.