Purpose: To characterize leadership curricula in undergraduate medical education as a first step toward understanding best practices in leadership education.
Method: The authors systematically searched the PubMed, Education Resources Information Center, Academic Search Complete, and Education Full Text databases for peer-reviewed English-language articles published 1980-2014 describing curricula with interventions to teach medical students leadership skills. They characterized educational settings, curricular format, and learner and instructor types. They assessed effectiveness and quality of evidence using five-point scales adapted from Kirkpatrick's four-level training evaluation model (scale: 0-4) and a Best Evidence Medical Education guide (scale: 1-5), respectively. They classified leadership skills taught into the five Medical Leadership Competency Framework (MLCF) domains.
Results: Twenty articles describing 24 curricula met inclusion criteria. The majority of curricula (17; 71%) were longitudinal, delivered over periods of one semester to four years. The most common setting was the classroom (12; 50%). Curricula were frequently provided to both preclinical and clinical students (11; 46%); many (9; 28%) employed clinical faculty as instructors. The majority (19; 79%) addressed at least three MLCF domains; most common were working with others (21; 88%) and managing services (18; 75%). The median effectiveness score was 1.5, and the median quality of evidence score was 2.
Conclusions: Most studies did not demonstrate changes in student behavior or quantifiable results. Aligning leadership curricula with competency models, such as the MLCF, would create opportunities to standardize evaluation of outcomes, leading to better measurement of student competency and a better understanding of best practices.