Background and objectives: Community health centers are facing a shortage of primary care physicians at a time when government plans have called for an expansion of community health center programs. To succeed with this expansion, community health centers require additional well-trained physician leadership. Our objective was to ascertain how medical directors obtain leadership skills in an attempt to identify the best methods and venues for providing future leadership training programs.
Methods: Using recorded interviews and focus group data with community health center medical directors, we identified patterns and themes through cross-case content analysis to determine leadership training needs in underserved settings.
Results: Medical directors often enter positions unprepared and can quickly become frustrated by an inability to make system improvements. Medical directors seek multiple ways to obtain the leadership skills necessary, including conferences, peer networking, mentorship, and formal degree training. Many directors express a desire for additional training, preferring flexibility in curriculum and hands-on components.
Conclusions: Additional leadership training opportunities for active and future medical directors are needed. Academic medical centers and other training sponsors should consider innovative ways to develop effective physician leadership to provide quality care to underserved communities.