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Clin Teach. 2010 Mar;7(1):26-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-498X.2009.00336.x.

Leadership lessons from military education for postgraduate medical curricular improvement.

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1
Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford University School of Medicine, US Naval Academy, Stanford, California, USA. edlera@aaol.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

quality medical education includes both teaching and learning of data-driven knowledge, and appropriate technical skills and tacit behaviours, such as effective communication and professional leadership. But these implicit behaviours are not readily adaptable to traditional medical curriculum models. This manuscript explores a medical leadership curriculum informed by military education.

CONTEXT:

our paediatric anaesthesia residents expressed a strong desire for more leadership opportunity within the training programme. Upon exploration, current health care models for leadership training were limited to short didactic presentations or lengthy certificate programmes. We could not find an appropriate model for our 1-year fellowship.

INNOVATION:

in collaboration with the US Naval Academy, we modified the 'Leadership Education and Development Program' curriculum to introduce daily and graduated leadership opportunities: starting with low-risk decision-making tasks and progressing to independent professional decision making and leadership. Each resident who opted into the programme had a 3-month role as team leader and spent 9 months as a team member. At the end of the first year of this curriculum both quantitative assessment and qualitative reflection from residents and faculty members noted significantly improved clinical and administrative decision making. The second-year residents' performance showed further improvement.

IMPLICATIONS:

medical education has long emphasised subject-matter knowledge as a prime focus. However, in competency-based medical education, new curriculum models are needed. Many helpful models can be found in other professional fields. Collaborations between professional educators benefit the students, who are learning these new skills, the medical educators, who work jointly with other professionals, and the original curriculum designer, who has an opportunity to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of his or her model.

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