Background: Effective clinical leadership is associated with better patient care. We implemented and evaluated a pilot clinical leadership course for second year internal medicine residents at a large United States Academic Medical Center that is part of a multi-hospital health system.
Methods: The course met weekly for two to three hours during July, 2013. Sessions included large group discussions and small group reflection meetings. Topics included leadership styles, emotional intelligence, and leading clinical teams. Course materials were designed internally and featured "business school style" case studies about everyday clinical medicine which explore how leadership skills impact care delivery. Participants evaluated the course's impact and quality using a post-course survey. Questions were structured in five point likert scale and free text format. Likert scale responses were converted to a 1-5 scale (1 = strongly disagree; 3 = neither agree nor disagree; 5 = strongly agree), and means were compared to the value 3 using one-way T-tests. Responses to free text questions were analyzed using the constant comparative method.
Results: All sixteen pilot course participants completed the survey. Participants overwhelmingly agreed that the course provided content and skills relevant to their clinical responsibilities and leadership roles. Most participants also acknowledged that taking the course improved their understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, different leadership styles, and how to manage interpersonal conflict on clinical teams. 88% also reported that the course increased their interest in pursuing additional leadership training.
Conclusions: A clinical leadership course for internal medicine residents designed by colleagues, and utilizing case studies about clinical medicine, resulted in significant self-reported improvements in clinical leadership competencies.