Brandeis Leadership Program in Health Policy ‘most educational course ever taken’
By Maher A. Abbas, MD, FACS, FASCRS
Through generous scholarship support from the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS), I attended the Brandeis University Heller School’s Leadership Program in Health Policy and Management in June 2013. The course consisted of six days of classroom education in addition to a few social functions. Professor Jon Chillingerian from Brandeis University directed and coordinated all of the course activities. He was brilliant.
This leadership training program was by far the most educational course I have ever taken during my adult professional life. It was incredibly well organized. The sessions were packed with useful material, and the faculty was truly outstanding.
The week began with a dinner talk on Sunday evening. From that first moment, Professor Chillingerian engaged the attendees of the course as individuals and as a group. Dr. Michael J. Zinner from Harvard then gave an overall perspective of the healthcare system evolution in the United States.
The following morning the course launched with formal classroom teaching. This intensive educational training felt like being at “The Boot Camp of Healthcare Policy, Management, and Leadership.” The audience participation and interactions were very lively and instructive. Surgeons from various specialties and from different parts of the country and the world exchanged thoughts, traded experiences, and debated each other and the faculty. It was educational, inspiring, and entertaining at the same time.
The faculty made tremendous effort to engage the audience at every step of the way by continuously soliciting questions and feedback. Professor Chillingerian was phenomenal: energetic, thoughtful, engaging, and outstanding by every metric.
The topics were fantastic and included leadership development and communication skills, how to carry out difficult negotiations, how to run an effective team, how to understand finance and accounting, and how to critically evaluate data for good decision making. The course covered Medicare history and current issues, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), bundle payments, and healthcare reform. There was a wealth of information exchanged and numerous opportunities for everyone’s participation. I learned a tremendous amount from the faculty and my fellow attendees.
The various sessions made me reflect and consider the difficult ongoing healthcare system issues from a different “angle.” As surgeons, we have become entrenched in our own ways of doing things, but the training received during this week pushed me personally to a different level. I developed a variety of perspectives and an appreciation for the challenging issues.
The course was a fantastic venue for education, exchange of ideas, debate, surgical camaraderie, and forging new friendships. I particularly enjoyed meeting many surgical colleagues from various specialties. I highly recommend this course and I sincerely hope that the ACS and the ASCRS provide continued support. I further recommend incorporating some of the sessions of the course into the annual meetings of both organizations and inviting some of the faculty who taught. Finally, I am eternally grateful to the ACS and the ASCRS for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Dr. Maher A. Abbas is current Regional Chief, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Director, Permanente National Center of Excellence, Chair, Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles, CA. He is appointed Chair, Digestive Disease Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a position he will assume in November.