As family medicine continues to grow, developing leaders to teach the next generation of family doctors becomes increasingly important. A few AFMRD members shared how they enhance their leadership skills and what they are doing to encourage their faculty and residents to grow as leaders.

Kristina M. Diaz, MD, FAAFP, Program Director and DIO at Yuma Regional Medical Center Family & Community Medicine Residency Program encourages leadership in her program by providing graduated experiences in leading. For example, a new faculty member or resident may start with helping to organize an event or activity, followed by the opportunity to lead and take ownership in the activity. These projects and events continue to grow and build until the faculty or resident “owns” a piece of the program. They are then designated as “Clinical Lead” in the area where they have developed expertise and people are routed their way if questions or concerns arise around this issue. 

Dana Sprute, MD, MPH, FAAFP, Family Medicine Residency Director at the University of Texas Austin Dell Medical School Family Medicine Residency Program has taken advantage of several leadership and professional development opportunities sponsored by family medicine organizations. Dr. Sprute completed AAFP’s Chief Resident Leadership Development Program, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Family Medicine Faculty Development fellowship, and AFMRD’s National Institute of Program Director Development (NIPDD). Her employer, Ascension Health, has internal leadership development opportunities and her program has set aside specific faculty development funding to be used to enhance leadership skills.

Kelsie Kelly, MD, MPH, Program Director at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Family Medicine Residency in Kansas City, KS, explains to her residents each year that she has a P.A.C.T with them – to be Present, their Advocate, Consistent, and Transparent. She believes these four things are instrumental in being a strong leader. Dr. Kelly was fortunate to have mentors who believed in her and guided her towards opportunities. She completed a faculty development fellowship through Cook County Health in Chicago right out of residency. Dr. Kelly urges faculty to participate in internal faculty development programs offered at their tertiary care institution and female faculty are encouraged to participate in AAMC women’s early and mid-career leadership development seminars.

According to Dr. Diaz, a good leader can recognize the strength of others. She truly believes that being able to tap into people’s potential and help them grow is the best thing a leader can do. Dr. Diaz continues to strive to improve her leadership skills by meeting with the organizational psychologist and leadership coach. She works on topics around leading teams, time management, leading change, hiring, and communications. Dr. Sprute believes that one must have a strong voice and advocate for faculty, residents, and the family medicine specialty. She strives to have regular opportunities to meet and discuss operations, challenges, and changes within the residency program and always encourages an open forum for questions. A strong leader always leads by example and allows others to learn from them.

Having the tools to train faculty aspiring to leadership positions is a necessity as family medicine organizations look to increase the family medicine workforce. There are numerous leadership and professional development opportunities sponsored by family medicine organizations. Click here to learn more about these opportunities. 

-Kathleen Ingraham Marshall