Enter the Magic Land of Physician LEADerShip

Once upon a time the belief in medical circles was that leaders were only born and not made. If you had the right background, contacts and motivation you could work your way up through the hospital hierarchy or the often Byzantine world of medical politics. Assuming an administrative leadership role then was also seen by many as “going to the dark side” and somehow betraying your profession and your colleagues – a perspective that has now waned significantly.

In recent years leadership became a science that could be taught and learned and a bewildering spectrum of frameworks were developed to explain the various attributes of good leaders and styles of leadership. And while there has been a laudable degree of attention paid to informally encouraging physicians to become leaders in whatever environment they should choose, learning the science has frankly never been that exciting. The Harvard Business Review might provide a variety of insightful articles on how leadership can and should work but it can’t rival The Medical Post when it comes to entertaining reading.

Also, there are now courses and conferences offered to help teach aspiring medical students, residents and physicians to become leaders. As a white paper by the Canadian Society of Physician Leaders (CSPL) and published in 2017 noted “the scope, breadth, and reach of leadership programs for physicians in Canada is extensive (but) some are not rationally designed around best practices.” The document adds “because there are no systemic learning programs to develop physician leaders, the need to introduce these opportunities throughout the Canadian health care system is urgent and is a pre-condition for the required transformation of that system.”

Enter simulation and a new initiative from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and CSPL in collaboration with LEADSGlobal.

In recent years, simulation has been used increasingly to teach physicians a variety of clinical skills and even provides a virtual environment to help improve patient safety and enhance quality care. It seems to make sense then to provide a tool to also allow physicians to learn leadership skills in a simulated environment.

SimuLEADerShip is a free, accredited resource for Royal College fellows and CSPLmembers aimed at having participants apply the LEADS framework and develop leadership competencies through knowledge-check questions in practice scenarios. All of this is done at the mythical Pondview Hospital in the year 2031 when “Society and the environment haven’t collapsed, humankind isn’t at the cusp of extinction and we live in a time of equity, harmony and sustainable growth.”

As a neonatologist at Pondview for the last 11 years you face the prospect that “even though society has advanced tremendously, there are still challenges in your facility. challenges that require the strength of a leader …” As you work through simulation your leadership skills are assessed and feedback is given.

You won’t get to accumulate treasure or slay dragons in this game but you can earn Section 3 and Mainpro+ credits. And you should improve your leadership skills.

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