It is said that “crisis creates community and communications.” The COVID-19 pandemic was the great proving ground of communicating as collaboration with the solid foundation of education and training. The opportunities that emerged during the pandemic showed how leadership initiatives through disaster training, teamwork, change management, creative problem-solving, and a dose of humility and empathy can ultimately be transferred to grow the day-to-day operations of the present-day organization.

ASA and the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) created a formal relationship to provide ASA members with meaningful and rigorous education for leadership development through such collaborative interactions.

The ASA-ACHE Physician Leadership Development Collaborative was formed when anesthesiologists identified the need to partner with health care executives and operational management as health care becomes a more integrated system from both clinical and economic perspectives.

“The goal is to train leaders who can then be proactive in their respective roles to challenge the status quo, but also cooperate across the entire care team.”

The collaboration offers participants professional networking opportunities and can help anesthesiologists gain an understanding of the many incentives in our health care system to work across different roles in the industry.

Such collaboration was highlighted during the pandemic, which provided greater opportunities for individuals to strengthen their leadership competencies

Aligning education as a path forward and upward

As a participant in the collaborative, Sam Wald, MD, MBA, FASA, said the leadership program is a resource that ASA members can access whether they are an executive or a full-time practicing physician. Dr. Wald is Vice President, Inpatient Perioperative Services, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Perioperative and Interventional Services, and Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology at Stanford Health Care.

Sam Wald, MD, MBA, FASA

Sam Wald, MD, MBA, FASA

“The goal is to provide both some general concepts that are helpful in any situation and others that might be more specific to any individual,” he said.

The collaborative has expanded beyond readings and didactics to now include interactive sessions that lead to professional collaborations, workshops, and self-assessment programs.

“Seeking feedback is incredibly important for positive growth,” said Dr. Wald. “Our medical training involves lots of feedback; however, in our leadership and management training, it is a challenge to know if we are improving or simply repeating the same mistakes.”

Dr. Wald said the primary leadership skills center around: 1) making decisions efficiently, notably when information is either missing and/or ambiguous, 2) understanding change and how to manage change, and 3) empathy and curiosity. The goal is to train leaders who can then be proactive in their respective roles to challenge the status quo, but also cooperate across the entire care team.

“Without diversity of thought, we miss out on getting different and assorted ideas and solutions to problems. A homogeneous group only serves to maintain a current state which stifles progress,” said Dr. Wald. “It is a failing strategy.”

Educational opportunities through collaborative courses

The featured course in the collaborative is the MasterClass: Resilience and Teamwork. The session includes lectures, interactive forums, and case-based strategies to positively impact patient care outcomes and improve personal performance. Current educational opportunities for all leadership pathways include:

Interested members can utilize the self-assessment tool to assess current knowledge and evaluate their current position to identify avenues for future leadership development.

For more information about the ASA-ACHE physician leadership collaborative program, visit: https://www.asahq.org/education-and-career/leadership-development/ache.

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Amy Gallagher is a certified English teacher and an internationally published journalist who has covered the health, medical, aviation, and military-rescue fields.