Challenges in Translation: Lessons from Using Business Pedagogy to Teach Leadership in Undergraduate Medicine
Teaching and Learning in Medicine
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Problem: Leadership is increasingly recognized as a core physician competency required for quality patient care, continual system improvement, and optimal healthcare team performance. Consequently, integration of leadership into medical school curriculum is becoming a priority. This raises the question of the appropriate context, timing, and pedagogy for conveying this competency to medical students.
Intervention: Our program introduced a 1-week leadership course grounded in business pedagogy to Year 1 medical students. The curriculum centred on four themes: (a) Understanding Change, (b) Effective Teamwork, (c) Leading in Patient Safety, and (d) Leadership in Action. Post-curriculum qualitative student feedback was analyzed for insight into student satisfaction and attitude towards the leadership course content.
Context: The Undergraduate Medical Education program of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, is delivered over 4 years across 2 campuses in London and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Course structure moved from traditional passive lectures to established business pedagogy, which involves active engagement in modules, case-based discussions, insights from guest speakers, and personal reflection.
Outcome: A student-led survey evaluated student opinion regarding the leadership course content. Students valued career development reading materials and insights from guest speakers working in healthcare teams. Students did not relate to messages from speakers in senior healthcare leadership positions. Course scheduling late in the second semester was viewed negatively. Overall student opinion suggested that the 1-week course was suboptimal for establishing leadership principles and translated business pedagogy was ineffective in this context.
Lessons Learned: Leadership curriculum in Undergraduate Medical Education should be grounded in a healthcare context relevant to the student's stage of training. Student engagement may be better supported if leadership is framed as a competency throughout their career. Schools considering such innovations could draw lessons from other professional schools and utilize material and faculty that resonate with students.