Chairs of major clinical departments traditionally have faced complex
responsibilities because of their multiple tasks – patient care,
teaching, research, and administration.
As academic health centers experience unprecedented disruption and
change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, chairs are being asked to
become more extensively involved in institutional decision making with
regard to programs, staffing, operating and capital budgets, and other
issues. These responsibilities are in addition to their traditional
concerns within their own departments. At the same time, chairs have to
consider to a greater degree the relationship between institutional
priorities, departmental decisions, and collaboration with other
services. These new tasks call for new leadership and managerial skills.
The Program for Chairs of Clinical Services (PCCS) brings
together chairs of major clinical departments in teaching hospitals and
health systems and an experienced interdisciplinary faculty for two
weeks of intensive and systematic study of some of the critical
leadership and management issues facing chairs, their departments, and
The curriculum of the program 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
- Competitive Strategy
- Health Policy
- Financial Analysis and Control
- Innovative Problem Solving
- Operations Management
- Organizational Issues
- Leadership Challenges
A carefully integrated curriculum permits participants to examine
fundamental managerial issues from the perspective of several
disciplines. A new program initiative or downsizing proposal, for
example, may raise managerial problems concerning departmental and
institutional strategy; the application and utility of systems analysis
and quantitative analytical methods; basic economic trends and legal
constraints; financial analysis and control; and organizational
behavior, design, and development.
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. For example, the course in
financial analysis and control does not aim to develop expert
accountants or to provide accounting skills, per se. The purpose in
learning to analyze the cost and financial implications of program
decisions, for instance, is: (a) to better understand the fundamental
methodological issues involved, the driving factors behind any
particular analysis, the limits of such analysis, and the need to blend
this with clinical, strategic, and other non-financial judgements; and
(b) to improve the ability of a participant both to manage staff and to
interact more effectively with the fiscal affairs personnel in their
hospital, health system, or medical school.
The principal method of instruction in the program is the case
method, a technique pioneered and refined at Harvard Business School.
Most of the cases present actual problem situations familiar to chairs
of clinical departments. Special case materials based on field studies
of specific issues faced by service chairs have been and continue to be
prepared by the faculty.
The case method confronts the participant with an actual management
problem, halted at a point where decisions must be made, and forces the
participant to choose a course of action. Participants go through a
three-step study process. First, participants study each case
independently. Participants then meet in small discussion groups to test
their individual analyses against those of their peers. Finally, the
entire class discusses the case, with the professor as 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 faculty.
Classes and discussion groups are scheduled six days a week.
Preparation for classes averages six hours a day. Registration is
scheduled for 3:00 – 4:00 pm on the opening Sunday of the program. The
following Sunday is free except for cases to be prepared for Monday’s
classes. The program concludes on the second Friday at 2:00 pm.
Participants are required to free themselves of professional and family
responsibilities for the period of the program so that full attention
can be devoted to the educational experience.