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Eric W. Dickson; Lori R. Pelletier

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Department of Advisors

Emergency Medicine; Quantitative Health Sciences

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Health care is increasingly becoming more complex with the advancement of accountable organizations, expansion of hospital systems, and major insurance and government reforms. As leaders of care teams, physicians are often expected to have a hybrid set of skills extending beyond clinical expertise. Examples of leadership knowledge and skill sets include organizational thinking, health quality improvement, health policy, financial literacy, health innovation, and many more. The number of MD/MBA programs has risen significantly since the 1990s and more recently, leadership pipelines for both medical residents and students have also emerged. These trends support a rising demand for well-rounded physician leaders. This project sets out to answer two questions: will a health care leadership program add value to undergraduate medical training for University of Massachusetts medical students? If so, what would such a leadership program look like?

We used the Lean management framework and “A3” Plan Do Study Analyze cycle (PDSA) to identify the challenges and appropriateness of developing a leadership program, and then to highlight ideas for promoting leadership. Key components of the framework include a root cause analysis and development of counter measures. As a platform for analysis, we examined the experiences of the “Quality Improvement Health Care Elective,” a student led series of lectures on health care process, Lean management, and health care leadership. We tested our counter measures as well as other ideas in a student opinion survey that focused on level of interest in leadership, career aspirations, desired deliverables, and the option of a training certificate.

An estimated 20% of the student population at UMass Medical School completed our survey (n=125). Our study discovered strong interest in the topic of leadership, with 20% of students stating they are very likely to take an elective on leadership, and 54% somewhat likely. Students were especially interested in career aspirations that included management and administration responsibilities, general career exploration, and opportunities for mentorship. These findings can be core features of developing a health care leadership option for medical students at UMass Medical School.


health care leadership, physician leadership, quality improvement, medical education, health innovation, health care systems, health care delivery, medical education, Lean management, health management, health administration



Subject Categories

Health and Medical Administration | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Leadership Studies | Medical Education

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