Fostering a New Generation of Leaders

HMS course provides future physicians, scientists with training

More than 500 HMS physicians and scientists have participated in the HMS Leadership Development course.

Training leaders in medicine and science is a critical component of Harvard Medical School’s core mission, and for more than a decade the HMS Leadership Development for Physicians and Scientists course has been providing future academic leaders with leadership training and career development skills.

More than 500 HMS physicians and scientists have participated in this highly innovative and interactive program since its initial launch in 2002.

“I applied to the program to improve my skills at leading various efforts, ranging from well-defined research projects, including research collaborations in Peru, to more amorphous volunteer committee leadership positions,” said Carole Mitnick, HMS assistant professor of global health and social medicine.

The course is designed for medical and dental school instructors, assistant professors and associate professors who are in the early stages of learning how to be effective leaders. The goal of the course is to build on each participants’ knowledge base and skills to enhance their development as administrative leaders in academic medicine.

“I would like to think it is an affirmation of the quality and outcomes of this training that so many faculty members, who are now teaching the course, were also course attendees and are now in prominent positions of leadership,” said Carole Bates, HMS assistant dean for faculty affairs.

Toward this end, the curriculum covers a broad spectrum of topics including institutional organization, finance, legal and regulatory issues and communication skills, among others.

Participants of the most recent course, in April 2013, represented a broad range of backgrounds and were drawn to the program by a desire to hone their skills in order to successfully navigate a variety of leadership roles in research, education and clinical medicine.

 “Although it is certainly a challenge to excel in leadership and mentoring in a multicultural and interdisciplinary field of research, my science education did not include any preparation to meet this challenge. I applied for the HMS Leadership Development course because it addresses this need and will prepare me for my next career step: taking a leadership role in collaborative projects and providing mentoring for postgraduate researchers,” said Felicitas Bidlack, a Harvard School of Dental Medicine instructor in developmental biology.

Past participants of the program credit the course with helping them to develop personalized leadership styles that have facilitated their ability to successfully take on larger leadership roles in academic medicine.

“The course was terrific. It gave me new skills in communication and negotiation that I continue to use today, years after completing the course.  More importantly, the course and the faculty gave me valuable feedback on my own strategies for leadership, enabling me to develop my own style and confidence to lead,” said Steven Simon, HMS associate professor of medicine and chief of general internal medicine at the Boston VA Healthcare System. Simon completed the program in 2009.

“The course helped me to develop relevant skills in negotiation, mentoring and giving presentations that were very helpful for my research. More importantly, it helped me to think of myself as a potential leader, prompting me to think about the areas in which I wanted to lead—and what additional skills I needed to develop,” said Kathryn Rexrode, HMS associate professor of medicine and faculty director for the Office of Women’s Careers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who completed the program in 2006.

For more information on the HMS Leadership Development program, visit the Office for Faculty Affairs website.