Medical School Life

Medical students: Learn how to behave like a leader in medicine

Timothy M. Smith , Contributing News Writer

As health care systems strive to become high-reliability organizations, they need strong leaders at all levels to deal with the challenges that continually emerge as a result of growing populations, new standards of care, changing government regulations and shifts in access to care. Students should appreciate that they too can be leaders by embracing change to promote shared goals. 

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An education module offered via the AMA Ed Hub™ helps medical students understand why leadership training should be a priority, identify the traits that make successful leaders, grasp the connection between professional identity and leadership and find pathways to formal leadership roles. 

The AMA Ed Hub is an online platform with top-quality CME and education that supports the professional development needs of physicians and other health professionals. With topics relevant to you, it also offers an easy, streamlined way to find, take, track and report educational activities. 

The free online CME module “Establishing Essential Leadership Behaviors” is enduring material and designated by the AMA for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. It is one of nine modules released as part of the Health Systems Science Learning Series

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation

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Why you need to be a systems thinker in health care

Leaders can emerge at every level and in every role in an organization, as well as at any point in their careers, but there is a framework for understanding how they come to be. 

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Leaders do a lot more than manage. In fact, some leaders aren't managers at all, but they make their marks by improving patient outcomes, decreasing clinical operational and capital expenditures, boosting efficiency and increasing staff satisfaction. Moreover, they shape organizational culture. Without leaders, there is no improvement. 

There are six core competencies. Each is observable and measurable. They are professionalism, self-management, team management, influence and communication, systems-based practice and executing toward a vision. To be a catalyst for change in clinical care, you will need all of them.  

Leadership is an identity, not a title. As a future physician, people automatically view you as a leader, but your knowledge, skills and behaviors are central to your professional identity and will determine both how you practice and how you lead. Taking on a quality improvement project, a mentee or a volunteer role are all behaviors you can adopt to further your identity as a leader. 

Opportunities abound. You will be seen as a leader if you can advance patient safety, drive quality initiatives and improve clinical outcomes. Fortunately, general management, clinical care, advocacy, public health, research and education all provide opportunities in those areas. Look for leadership seminars, committee or council memberships and nonclinical internships and fellowships.

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Medical students: Find your place in fast-moving health systems

The AMA also recently released the Health Systems Science Review book, published by Elsevier.  

The review book complement’s the AMA’s 2016 Health Systems Science textbook, which outlines a formal method to teach students how to deliver care that meets patients’ needs in modern health systems. More than 5,000 copies have been sold worldwide, and it is being used in over 30 medical and health professions schools. Both books are available for purchase at the AMA Store