Medical school takes step to cultivate future leaders in medicine

The medical school’s Office of Diversity and Leadership this month named 17 assistant and associate professors as the first group of fellows in a leadership program that aims to identify and support the development of potential leaders—especially women and minorities. The new program will expose fellows to a wide range of successful leadership models and hold regular meetings for them with personal coaches and senior faculty, who will act as mentors.

The program is modeled after a successful Stanford-wide fellows program, whose former participants include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, PhD; Provost John Etchemendy, PhD, and Hannah Valantine, MD, who is the founder of the medical school's new fellowship program. Valantine, who was named senior associate dean for diversity and faculty development in 2005, hopes the new program will give medical school faculty a broader view of activities within the school and across the university. "What was most helpful to me about the Stanford program was being able to meet and network with people across the institution," she said. "Talking with people in various disciplines gave me a deeper understanding of the challenges universities face."

The new program will kick off at a Feb. 28 dinner at which Dean Philip Pizzo, MD, will address the fellows about leadership issues. This will be the first of the fellows' monthly dinner meetings, which will feature either a campus leader who describes his or her leadership journey or a speaker who addresses various leadership challenges. Program designers hope that exposure to diverse styles will help the fellows more easily determine which style will work best for them as they aspire to achieve leadership roles.

The fellows will also meet regularly in groups of four or five with a mentor. Barbara Miller, the program's associate director, said, "These meetings will give the fellows a unique opportunity to ask questions that can be difficult to ask in your own department." The mentors are Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, chair of neurosurgery; Suzanne Pfeffer, PhD, chair of biochemistry; Oscar Salvatierra, MD, professor of surgery and of pediatrics, emeritus, and Ann Leung, MD, associate chair of radiology.

Along with these meetings, fellows will ask their supervisors, peers and associates to complete a written survey, which will help identify their leadership strengths and weaknesses. A personal coach will use the results to help each fellow set and track personal leadership development goals for the year.

Valantine said one of the challenges in helping to develop leadership skills is deciding what leadership entails. Her office is working to define the qualities needed to be a successful leader at the School of Medicine. Along with reviewing the published literature on this question, the office is also seeking input from faculty and from the dean, who has already been instrumental in sharing his vision of what leadership at the School of Medicine involves.

The fellows, who were selected from a pool of 56 candidates and nominated by department chairs and division chiefs, are: Janice "Wes" Brown, MD, assistant professor of medicine; James Chen, PhD, assistant professor of molecular pharmacology; Clifford Chin, MD, associate professor of pediatric cardiology; Sheila Coogan, MD, assistant professor of vascular surgery; Myriam Curet, MD, associate professor of general surgery; Ricardo Dolmetsch, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology; Ramona Doyle, MD, associate professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine; Tracy George, MD, assistant professor of pathology; Iris Gibbs, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology; Sabine Girod, MD, PhD, assistant professor of plastic/reconstructive surgery; Hayes Gladstone, MD, assistant professor of dermatology; Anthony Oro, MD, assistant professor of dermatology; Minnie Sarwal, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatric nephrology; Eric Sibley, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric gastroenterology; Eric Sokol, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Karl Sylvester, MD, assistant professor of pediatric surgery; and Sharon Williams, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science.

Patti Kahn is a science-writing intern in the Office of Communication & Public Affairs at the School of Medicine.