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Learning to lead

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 The idea of a ‘born leader’ can be misleading. For many, leadership skills are acquired over time.

A group of Florida State medical students eager to learn more about leading have taken a significant step in that direction. They competed and won the 2017 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Award from Alpha Omega Alpha.

Their project? A ‘Leadership in Medicine’ program at the FSU College of Medicine to “provide purposeful and immersive leadership development opportunities for students interested in careers that transcend clinical medicine.”

“Based on a survey conducted here at the College of Medicine, we observed that a large number of students enter medical school with leadership goals that extend beyond patient care. Unfortunately, those aspirations tend to diminish and are put on hold due to the workload of medical school,” said Farnoosh Shariati, one of the student leaders for the project.

“Leadership in Medicine’s aim is to provide students with such aspirations the opportunity to develop their leadership skills by providing them with fundamental leadership competencies and exposing them to a variety of opportunities that will enrich their experience with leadership in different domains of medicine.”

Keith Kincaid, Stephanie Tran and Devan Patel joined Shariati as the project’s student leaders. Team members include D’andre Williams, Ryan Earwood, Taylor Maramara, Morrisa Taylor and Kevin Gil.

'"'Leadership in Medicine' was never about starting just another interest group on campus -- the program was envisioned from its inception as a stimulant to the somewhat dry culture that medicine can sometimes become," Kincaid said.

"We all enter medical school with a sense of potential and ambition that can easily be snuffed out if neglected over time; Leadership in Medicine was designed to nourish those ambitions and enable students to actively walk the stepping stones to their long-held dreams."

Faculty mentors for the project include Chris Mulrooney (mentor leader) and Alma Littles, Paul McLeod, Christy Alexander, Jonathan Appelbaum, Les Beitsch, Daniel Van Durme, Suzanne Bush and Laura O’Steen.

“This is a four-year program that will provide students with an unprecedented level of leadership training,” Patel said. “As health-care delivery has shifted to an interprofessional, team-based approach surrounding the patient, it is critical that future health-care professionals develop both individual and group leadership strategies.

“Through various workshops, projects, and experiential learning opportunities, Leadership in Medicine will foster the lifelong process of leadership development right from the beginning of our medical education journey.”

The national award includes a $9,000 grant from the AOA Honor Medical Society as a supplement to institutional funding. The project will receive $39,000 in funding over four years.

The students from Florida State first submitted a proposal during the 2016 competition, planning to develop a longitudinal family care program with an interprofessional approach. Ironically, the proposal was rejected due to its lack of a significant leadership component.

That experience served to illustrate the need for a leadership program at the College of Medicine. A subsequent survey of FSU medical students revealed that 81 percent of respondents were interested in a formal leadership training program and 62 percent said they have leadership goals beyond patient care.

The Leadership in Medicine project will get underway with an alumni discussion series this summer when the Class of 2021 arrives to begin studies. Core competency training (fall) and specialized leadership training (spring) will complete the first year’s agenda.

Patel and Shariati will lead development of the first two years of the program. Tran and Kincaid will lead development for the third and fourth years.

“Our school has seen many students form into great leaders in medicine. The exciting thing about this new program is that, starting with the class of 2021, students will have the opportunity to participate in formalized training that will foster their development into strong, adaptive, mission-based leaders that will positively impact our community,” said Earwood.

“There is still a lot of work to come in making this vision a reality, but after working with such a great student-led team, and amazing faculty mentors, I know we can look forward to a great program.”