A Medical Science Educator Article Review From Dr. Carrie Elzie

This review was written by Carrie Elzie, PhD, a member of the IAMSE Publications Committee, and was published in May 2021 in Medical Science Educator. The article is titled “Leadership Training and Undergraduate Medical Education: a Scoping Review” and was written by Eric James, Mallory Evans & Misa Mi.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most significant global health crises in recent history.  The unique challenges brought on by the global pandemic have emphasized the need for strong physician leadership to navigate these complex and changing times.  Because leadership draws from numerous fields (eg. psychology, sociology, and history) and real-life sources (work, family and social experiences), it requires an integration of knowledge with experience.  As such, medical schools are beginning to mirror large corporations and develop leadership programs for medical students and residents. Despite the incredible time and money invested, there is little agreement upon the appropriate sources of learning for developing leaders.  Diminishing curricular time and limited resources further complicate the matter.

 To provide some clarity around the current status of intervention-based leadership training, James, Evans and Mi published a scoping review to identify, examine and synthesize the most recent publications on leader development in undergraduate medical education.  Their review of 35 international papers includes the characteristics and outcomes of several interventions.  This work highlights the striking differences among content covered and pedagogical approaches used for leader training in undergraduate medical education.  In addition, the review exposes gaps in existing training programs and highlights the need for managerial skills related to leading interprofessional teams.  As many of the studies reviewed used in-house surveys, it also highlights the need for a comprehensive validated assessment tool that could be utilized across multiple settings.  

As programs are being developed, one of the greatest challenges will be to build tools that connect a physician’s individual development with the strategic needs of their patients and the health care system, while also equipping leaders with the adaptability to handle unforeseen challenges.  Pedagogies used in leadership interventions may not be generalized to all leaders.  Methods should be in sync with both job demands and individuals’ needs at a particular time and place.  This may require an ala-carte menu approach to leader development within medical education that allows trainees to engage with experiential learning specific to their unique needs.  Additionally, a longitudinal approach may be necessary to foster skills and accumulate relevant experiences that contribute to holistic leader development.  

Carrie Elzie, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology & Anatomy
Eastern Virginia Medical School