Each year, a group of mid-career physicians, scientists, clinical directors and administrative leaders has the opportunity to take part in an intensive program resembling a leadership boot camp. During the 10-month program, participants learn from not only BWH and Partners leaders but also faculty from Harvard Business School (HBS).
With its sixth cohort set to begin this October, the Brigham Leadership Program (BLP) has graduated more than 250 people from the BWHC community since its launch in 2007. Its alumni, from disciplines spanning all clinical departments and additional hospital service areas—including biomedical engineering, nursing/clinical services and finance—have gained skills to become stronger leaders in their current positions or to grow into new roles within BWHC.
“BLP offers a unique opportunity to bring together faculty from all disciplines to discuss our dynamic health care market and the challenges we face as individuals and as an institution, whether they be in the clinical, research, teaching or financing areas,” said course director and Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization (BWPO) President Allen Smith, MD, MS.
Designed by the Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (CFDD), the Physicians’ Council and the BWPO in collaboration with HBS, the BLP seeks to enhance participants’ leadership skills and ability to lead complex projects and teams.
“The BLP curriculum includes a core set of essential leadership and management concepts, including strategic planning, operational efficiency, team dynamics, basic financial principles and personal leadership development,” said Jessica Dudley, MD, BWPO chief medical officer. “In addition to participation in case-based teaching sessions, the course requires all participants to complete a group project, reinforcing the skills that have been taught in the course.”
John Wright, MD, of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, who was a member of the program’s first cohort in 2007, called BLP a “perspective-altering experience.” At the time, he decided to apply to the program to learn the skills needed to more effectively address specific care delivery challenges that his team was facing. He was also looking to hone the management skills necessary to implement change.
“One of many things I gained from the program was the importance of learning to work with everyone involved in the care of the patient—the full continuum, from patient care assistants to nurses to pharmacists and social workers,” said Wright, whose team project focused on the establishment of a spine center. “I learned how vital it is to get input from everyone involved when deciding to make changes in the care plan.”
The program meets for four two-and-a-half-day learning modules at HBS, which include lectures, case discussions and experiential classroom exercises, and three two-hour sessions at BWH for informative talks and project discussion time. Participants work on team-based projects that address a problem or issue of relevance to the hospital.
“BLP gave me the opportunity to interact with colleagues from multiple specialties, establish relationships that I still draw on today and diversify my circle of friends and colleagues around BWH, which has led to much richer collaborative work for me,” said Wright. “We tend to get locked in our specialties. The program gave me a much better perspective.”
About a year after taking on a new leadership role as faculty director of the Office for Women’s Careers (OWC), Kathryn Rexrode, MD, of Primary Care, decided to apply to the program.
“I realized the role would require some new skills that I thought BLP would be able to teach me, such as how to be an effective leader, how to manage and create change, and how to lead teams effectively,” said Rexrode, who was a member of the 2013-2014 cohort.
She says that BLP taught her this and much more.
“Given that an academic medical center is such a hybrid place, many of the people coming to the program have different roles and responsibilities,” Rexrode said. “One of the things that is so great about BLP is that the skills learned don’t just apply to one of our roles, but to all of them.”
Additionally, with five cohorts now having gone through the program, its graduates share a certain understanding about hospital operations.
“There is so much value to being able to understand not only what’s happening within your own domain, but seeing through the eyes of the whole hospital and how your work fits into the overall mission,” said Rexrode.