Leadership curriculum in undergraduate medical education: a study of student and faculty perspectives

Med Teach. 2009 Mar;31(3):244-50. doi: 10.1080/01421590802144278.


Background: Leaders in medicine have called for transformative changes in healthcare to address systems challenges and improve the health of the public. The purpose of this study was to elicit the perspectives of students, faculty physicians and administrators regarding the knowledge and competencies necessary in an undergraduate leadership curriculum.

Methods: A mixed-methods study was conducted using focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with faculty physicians and administrative leaders, as well as a written survey of medical student leaders.

Results: Twenty-two faculties participated in focus groups and interviews; 21 medical students responded to the written survey. Participants identified emotional intelligence, confidence, humility and creativity as necessary qualities of leaders; and teamwork, communication, management and quality improvement as necessary knowledge and skills. Students perceived themselves as somewhat or fully competent in communication (90%), conflict resolution (70%) and time management (65%), but reported minimal or no knowledge or competence in coding and billing (100%), writing proposals (90%), managed care (85%) and investment principles (85%). Both faculty and students believed that experiential training was the most effective for teaching leadership skills.

Conclusions: Study participants identified the necessary qualities, knowledge and skills to serve as goals for an undergraduate leadership curriculum. Future studies should address optimal methods of teaching and assessing leadership skills among medical students.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel
  • Curriculum*
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Leadership*
  • Professional Competence
  • Program Evaluation
  • Students, Medical*