Spring 2017  

Reflections on the Brandeis Leadership Program

Dr. José GuillemBy José G. Guillem, MD, MPH

It is with great pleasure that I write to comment on my experience at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Overall this was one of the most informative and productive educational weeklong experiences that I have ever participated in, and this includes my college years, as well as medical school and course work for my Masters in Public Health.

A lot of the information was new to me and I was, therefore, very receptive and eager to learn everything; and I believe I learned a great deal. The speakers were all excellent, engaging communicators and experts in their field.

The major concern I had with the curriculum was the massive amount of information presented in such a short period of time; I wonder what percentage of it is actually retained long enough to be able to be put into practice. This is, of course, my personal, biased observation coming from the perspective of someone who had little, if any, exposure to health care economics, affairs, reform, policy, etc. at the time of taking this excellent course.

The suggestion I would make to the College is to ascertain the interest of the attendees. What are they hoping to realistically gain during a weeklong course? Is it a better appreciation of health care dynamics, policy, politics, etc? Is it a better understanding of financial accounting in health care? Is it a 30,000 feet perspective on the complexity of the multitude of political, economic, clinical, and operational issues that are involved in health care delivery? Is it a better understanding of different leadership styles and practices as well as acquisition of skill sets on conflict resolution, listening, relational coordination, decision making, etc.?

One the one hand, this terrific course was so intriguing and illuminating that it opened my eyes to the point that I am seriously contemplating pursuing their Masters program. For this, I am grateful. On the other hand, what drew me in to apply for this course was primarily my interest in learning about different leadership styles and acquiring skill sets on conflict resolution, listening, relational coordination, decision making, etc. and I wished there had been more time dedicated to this topic, not only with more varied lectures, but also with break-out sessions to put into practice newly-learned material. If leadership skill development was to become the priority and focus of the program, the first day could be dedicated to having short, focused presentations on health care policy, economics, insurance, etc. and provide a 30,000 feet perspective, while the rest of the week could provide a deeper educational experience on leadership, which is what I believe most attendees were looking for.

I hope this is useful information and I strongly encourage the American College of Surgeons to continue to fund this terrific educational experience.

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