St. Joe’s implements physician leadership development program

At St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto, physician leadership is critical to our ability to deliver on our strategy to be The Best. We rely on our physicians to take on leadership roles to participate in decision making that will help us to deliver the best care to our patients, their families and the communities that we serve.

We recently launched a unique, leadership development program that St. Joe’s designed to help our physician leaders inspire staff and help implement transformational change across St. Joe’s. Participants of this program are eligible to earn continuing education credits through The College of Family Physicians of Canada and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The physician leadership program builds on the momentum of the already successful development program we’ve had in place for our management team for the last three years.

Last year was the first year of the physician leadership development program, which focused on our current physician leaders. Dr. Wendy Thurston, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging, who was in the program’s first wave and says, “As a student, there was nothing in my medical school curriculum teaching me how to become a good leader. Most of us, therefore, take on these roles with no formal prior teaching. Without doubt, there is real skill and knowledge required to be an effective leader.”

“Being a Medical Chief is a very challenging job and requires lots of commitment and education to try to do it well. One of the most valuable parts of this program for me was the ability to spend a fair amount of time with the other medical leaders at St. Joe’s. We realized most of us face the same stressors and challenges,” adds Dr. Thurston. “We got to talk about different ideas and approaches and how to deal with our common issues together…I am working hard to be a better leader.”

St. Joe’s is currently in the second year of this new program, which focuses on emerging physician leaders.

Leadership development is not a one-time event – it’s a lifelong commitment. Executive Vice President Mark Vimr says “Achieving transformational change requires an ongoing investment.” Our organization is committed to this as part of our corporate strategy and succession plan in recognition of the critical role leaders play in helping to achieve our corporate objectives.

“The program provides participants with an opportunity to apply their learning to projects that will have a direct impact on improving the quality of patient care, enhancing interprofessional collaboration and teaching the next generation,” adds Vimr, who is also St. Joe’s Chief Nurse Executive.

The physician leadership program promotes a culture that supports physicians’ contributions to the hospital at a leadership level where they can work collaboratively with medical staff and administrators and share accountability.

St. Joseph’s new Chief of Staff Dr. Ted Rogovein went through the physician leadership program and notes, “It was a wonderful opportunity for the physician leaders of St. Joe’s to discuss our hospital’s challenges and our strengths in an open, collaborative way. We learned much about our situation, but more importantly we learned much about one another.”

This comprehensive program involves best practices including personal growth, conceptual development, feedback, skills development, team building, and interactive learning with mentors and role models.

In the end, physicians gain vital leadership skills. They can then use their leadership training to inspire the staff under their direction so the organization is working together to achieve common goals and objectives. This helps us use common language, transfer information about hospital initiatives from leaders to frontline staff, and ultimately impact how we deliver on our commitments to Put Patients First in everything we do.