Developing Empathetic Physician Leaders

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , July 28, 2011

USF Health worked with the Teleos Leadership Institute in Elkins Park, PA, to interview and assess students' emotional intelligence for the program. Students were asked about significant moments in their lives, for example, and how they responded, and what they learned.

Besides emphasis on teamwork, the students will focus on quality improvement and patient safety "more than regular medical students are trained," said Robert Brooks, MD, MA, MBA, MPH, a former secretary of health for the state of Florida and currently associate vice president for health leadership at USF.

Such instruction over a four-year period along with the regular medical school teaching lays the groundwork for students eyeing potential leadership positions in their careers, he said.

Brooks said, a "truism" holds that it's "technical skills that generally get someone into the C-suite, but it's the lack of emotional intelligence that gets them out."

"You read these horror stories about some CEOs and whether they did something inappropriate or problematic," he says "We shake our heads and realize that a reasonable amount of self-awareness, of relational understandings, would have helped address these problems."

"Whatever particular specialty or type of career these students may go into, whatever role they choose to play as part of the healthcare industry, we believe these tools will show integrated learning over four years, and with a focus on emotional intelligence, will make them better suited for success."

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