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Fam Syst Health. 2012 Sep;30(3):241-52. doi: 10.1037/a0029689. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

Teaching adaptive leadership to family medicine residents: what? why? how?

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New Hampshire Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency, Concord, New Hampshire 03909, USA.


Health care reform calls for patient-centered medical homes built around whole person care and healing relationships. Efforts to transform primary care practices and deliver these qualities have been challenging. This study describes one Family Medicine residency's efforts to develop an adaptive leadership curriculum and use coaching as a teaching method to address this challenge. We review literature that describes a parallel between the skills underlying such care and those required for adaptive leadership. We address two questions: What is leadership? Why focus on adaptive leadership? We then present a synthesis of leadership theories as a set of process skills that lead to organization learning through effective work relationships and adaptive leadership. Four models of the learning process needed to acquire such skills are explored. Coaching is proposed as a teaching method useful for going beyond information transfer to create the experiential learning necessary to acquire the process skills. Evaluations of our efforts to date are summarized. We discuss key challenges to implementing such a curriculum and propose that teaching adaptive leadership is feasible but difficult in the current medical education and practice contexts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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