Tailoring specific learning methods to varying learning approaches may contribute to improved leadership competencies, according to a study conducted by five researchers from the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS): Ellen Goldman, EdD ’05, MBA, associate dean for faculty and organizational development and professor of clinical research and leadership; Nisha Manikoth, EdD, professorial lecturer in the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development; Katherine Fox, MPH, manager of the Master Teacher Leadership Development Programs; Rosalyn Jurjus, MD, PhD ’09, adjunct associate professor of anatomy and cell biology; and Raymond Lucas, MD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development.
Continuing leadership development is critical for faculty members at academic health centers who need to respond to increasing environmental complexities. At SMHS, the research team explored the effects of an eight-month program that emphasized conceptual understanding, skill building, feedback, and personal growth. The program was targeted to mid-level faculty members whose responsibilities include developing educational programs, clinical services, or research initiatives.
“We collected data from session and program evaluations, participant interviews, mentor surveys, and supervisor interviews,” Goldman explained. “We then identified themes through open coding with the use of constant comparative methods to help find patterns in the data.”
The team found that readings and classroom modules provided an expanded and holistic understanding of leadership. Role-playing exercises and action plans helped the participants apply and practice their leadership skills, and peer- and mentor-provided feedback and skill assessments offered specifics for how participants could focus their development efforts. In addition, personal growth exercises allowed participants to reflect and consider new perspectives. More, the participants, supervisors, and mentors reported that anchoring learning methods around a real-time project led to improved leadership competencies and personal confidence.
“A faculty leadership development program that combines understanding, skill building, feedback, and personal growth while also connecting multiple learning methods can be the catalyst for behavioral change and organizational growth,” Goldman said. “Our program at SMHS could serve as a model for leadership teams needing a proven learning tool kit that provides synergy for improvement.”
The study, “Faculty leadership development: A case study of a synergistic approach,” is available in the journal Medical Teacher.