Bush Column: Physician Leadership Program Coming to Wyoming

A quick google search of Physician Leadership programs nets over 26,000,000 results in just .48 of a second. It takes just a few moments longer to find mountains of whitepapers making the case why physician leadership programs are valuable to doctors and their patients.

Thanks to a grant award by the Physician Foundation, the Wyoming Medical Society will take its first dip into the physician leadership waters this fall as Wyoming Leaders in Medicine, Physician Leadership Academy, kicks-off welcoming 20 Wyoming physicians into the program.

Sheila Bush

The concept of the program is to explore the external factors impacting medicine while deep-diving into personal leadership skills such as conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and relationship management all while building and fostering relationships among Wyoming’s providers.

The Wyoming Leaders in Medicine Physician Leadership Academy will require its participants attend seven separate weekend courses located throughout the state. Weekends involve leadership training modules; visits to local institutions, and panels highlighting local healthcare strengths and challenges. The program will visit locations such as The Wyoming State Hospital, Indian Health Services, Veteran Administration healthcare facilities, and The Wyoming State Legislature to better understand Wyoming’s healthcare delivery landscape through the lenses of players within the system.

This program is being made possible by a generous grant from The Physicians Foundation and critical partnerships with The University of Wyoming, Leadership Wyoming, The Wyoming Hospital Association, and FutureSYNC International, Inc. Through the application process, we have been supported by other state medical societies who have been successful in this space, such as our friends in the Montana Medical Association. The Montana society introduced us to FutureSYNC, which has a tremendous reputation and has built leadership modules specific to the medical field and will handle the leadership training piece for us. Our most sincere thanks go out to these organizations and their committed partnership to The Wyoming Medical Society and our members.

The program is still in its planning stages as the Advisory Committee, made up of physician members of the WMS, representatives from UW College of Health Sciences, The Wyoming Hospital Association and Leadership Wyoming, met for the first time in June. Each member of the advisory committee has a stake in physician leadership programs excelling in Wyoming and offered enthusiastic support when asked to participate on the advisory committee.

Among the many touted benefits of physician leadership programs are more positive interpersonal interactions between physicians, and an empowerment of physicians within their respective practice environments to leverage their influence in a meaningful way. In 2011, the American Hospital Association (AHA) asked its regional policy boards, governing councils and committees to identify the skills they felt physicians needed to practice and lead in a reformed environment. The top skill required was leadership training.

Research in preventing physician burnout, a hot topic in this issue of Wyoming Medicine, suggests that among the top strategies for coping with stress were understanding emotions; managing emotions and behaviors; active listening; staying connected to others; and acknowledging and managing conflict. Physician leadership programs provide tools for all of those skills, which when employed in concert with the strengthening of a thriving community in which physicians can find support and encouragement provide a winning combination. It’s that winning combination on which WMS focused in our decision to mark 2017 as the inaugural year for a statewide physician leadership program.