By Amit Merchea, MD
Recent and ongoing changes in the delivery of health care in the United States have further necessitated the development of physicians as clinical and non-clinical leaders, economists, and policymakers. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Executive Leadership Program in Health Policy and Management at Brandeis University, part of the Heller School of Management. This was made possible by the combined scholarship support of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS).
This was an intensive course that provides physicians with the tools necessary to develop innovative solutions to improve the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and overall quality of care. Professor Jon A. Chilingerian serves as a vibrant course director. Dr. Michael Jellinek, a child psychiatrist by training who has also held numerous significant leadership and hospital administrative positions, led our introduction to the week with an engaging dinner talk on “Leading Teams to High Performance.”
The subsequent six days were filled with immensely educational lectures, discussions, and case studies that examined health care policy, management, and effective leadership. This fostered extensive interaction and debate among the other surgeon attendees from various backgrounds, institutions, and career levels.
The topics were comprehensive and included talks on leadership, financial literacy, healthcare economics, and conflict negotiation/resolution. Finally, we were guided through the current status of health care delivery and reform in the United States by Dr. Stuart Altman, an expert who has served five U.S. Presidents from both political parties. He is an energetic lecturer whose experiences and stories captured everyone’s attention.
The course overall was a great educational experience and highlighted the many differences in health care management and delivery across the country. Each element of it was enhanced by the shared experiences of my fellow scholars. It was a lucrative venue for forging new friendships and partnerships with other surgeons and even provided opportunities for creating new institutional collaborations.
I would recommend this course without reservation to anyone with interest in health care policy making. It is of significant importance that the ASCRS, combined with the ACS, value such training and, in my opinion, our organizations should continue to support these endeavors for their members. Doing so ensures that future leaders will understand these concepts and remain as effective leaders and stewards of the policies that our institutions and societies espouse.