The Gil S. Ross Leadership Academy at SUNY Upstate Department of Neurology
Physicians become de facto leaders the moment they earn their medical degree. During residency, interns lead complex teams of medical students, nurses and patients. Senior residents have the added responsibility of directing junior residents. Following graduation from residency, many physicians advance to administrative positions in private practice and academic settings.
Yet despite the demands of leadership placed on physicians by their roles as default team leaders, physicians receive little to no training in leadership. A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine pointed out this deficit and asserted that “health systems should make leadership development an organizational priority.”
In response to the leadership training vacuum, the Upstate Neurology Residency created the “Leadership Academy at Upstate Neurology.” In July 2019, Dr. Terrence Cascino, MD, FAAN, past present of the AAN visited campus to launch the Leadership Academy at Upstate Neurology. The Academy is a 3 year recurring curriculum integrated into the existing curriculum.
During the first year, the curriculum introduced the residents to basic concepts in leadership, including emotional intelligence, leadership styles and communication skills. During the second year we took a deeper dive into some of these concepts and addressed specific leadership roles physicians assume, including mentoring and difficult conversations. We also tackled conflict resolution. The third year of the curriculum features some of the challenges leaders face and offers practical methods to address them, using discussion and role play. All sessions include a large interactive component. Increasingly, our senior residents are taking a role in presenting the sessions. Each year our residents track their growth as leaders by completing a leadership skills survey.
 Lerman C and Jameson JL. Leadership Development in Medicine. NEJM 2018;378;20:1862-1863