Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 5 - Page 13

MEDICAL LEADERSHIP ( IN-TRAINING ) AUTHOR Kevin Jacob , BS

MEDICAL LEADERSHIP ( IN-TRAINING ) AUTHOR Kevin Jacob , BS

A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR LEADERSHIP

What does it mean to be a great leader in medicine ? The answer is ill-defined , but we know great leaders when we see them . As a junior student , I worked with a 68-year-old lady with metastatic breast cancer that was causing her significant bone pain , cachexia and overall weakness . Her clinic visit involved a small army of consultants . Physicians , nurses and medical assistants were all dedicated to ensuring that her palliative care wishes were met . They focused on giving her the care and compassion that we all want for a family member . It was only afterwards that I had time to process the leadership and communication skills that it took for her physician to coordinate and organize all the aspects of her care , taking all the time needed with the patient who was her sole focus . The clinic was designed and led in such a way that every patient was afforded this experience , testifying to the efforts made to iron out the irritations and inefficiencies , to deliver better , more personable care .

As I round the corner of graduating medical school , I ’ ve enjoyed learning from what seems to be the entire hospital and had the privilege of learning from many physicians whom I consider
great leaders and mentors . I ’ ve found myself wondering not just about what it means to be a great leader in medicine , a title that is ill-defined by any one specialty or interest , but what it takes to become one .
Leadership takes practice , patience and preparation . In medical school , we do all that we can to prepare ourselves to take medical sciences from the textbook to the patient . Identifying pathology and management is enough to answer a board question but it isn ’ t enough to ensure our patients receive the care that they need . Physicians must use their interpersonal skills to overcome barriers to care for patients and work together with the health care team . As I progressed through my training , it became apparent that the medical field largely self-selects for those interested in leadership and science . Medical school admissions then further select those with leadership experience and deemed academic and leadership aptitude . It ’ s well understood that this academic aptitude must be methodically cultivated and practiced as it shapes students into residents and residents into practicing physicians . However , we often rest on our laurels when it comes to the leadership aptitude that got us into medical school and defer cultivating it to a more convenient time . Investing in leadership and effective communication skills by practicing them early in our training is certainly something to
( continued on page 12 ) OCTOBER 2021 11