In “Leadership Training Program for Medical Staff in Belgium”, a recent article published by Sciedu Press in International Journal of Higher Education, Neree Claes and Valérie Brabanders address the problem that little to no attention is given to leadership training in medical school, resulting in a health care system that consists of physicians acting as sole practitioners rather than members of a health care team. To counter this trend, as well as meeting the general need for leadership skills in health care, they propose a leadership training program for health care professionals in Belgium at Antwerp Management School: the Clinical Leadership Program (CLeP)
CLeP is based on Schwartz’ three recommendations for physician leadership: local, long-term instruction and led by physicians. In order to facilitate these terms, CLeP also incorporates Stoller’s complementary experiences for emerging leaders: didactic teaching, mentorship and experiential leadership opportunities.
Starting in 2013, a literature study and round up of various existing programs was made in order to construct a preliminary program. This was then proposed to different stake holders and with their feedback, a program was put together. The program consists of two modules, that take up five days. The first module covers the first three days and deals with the following themes: ‘Me’, ‘Team’ and ‘Organization’, while the second module covers day four and five, which cover the themes of ‘Institution’ and ‘Societal Impact’.
Later on in 2014, this program was released and proposed to seventeen physicians from one hospital. A year later the full program was offered to other Flemish hospitals with the option of choosing the full program or a downscaled program, which only covers the first module. Over the past three years, a structured questionnaire was filled out by the participants at the end of every program. This allowed N. Claes and V. Brabanders to review feedback and suggestions, resulting in different adaptations in terms of time frame, content, format and faculty to the program.
Over the course of four years, N. Claes and V. Brabander have observed the following things: first, there is a general need for physician leadership in health care. While the CLeP does manage to elevate the problem for its participants, a more fundamental way of changing how new physicians think, would be to include leadership training in medical school.
Secondly, there are people who still have some unanswered questions about the benefits of formal health care leadership training, something that can be answered by a follow-up investment analysis of said leadership development program.
Thirdly, there remains the financial aspect of the program. Several options for this have arisen over the years. There is the option of splitting the costs evenly between hospital and physicians, a reasonable idea as both parties invest in the program for their own benefits. The second option would be that the hospital covers all expenses, something that is not favorable as this can be quite costly, which in turn results in finding ways to reduce costs such as a tendency towards the reduced program or the use of inferior locations. Also important to note is that if physicians do not share in the cost, they feel less responsibility and tend to drop out of the program. A third option would be that the physicians pay the entire cost, an unpopular option resulting in a small number of participants.
Claes and Brabanders conclude with there being a noticeable growth in demand for CLeP as more and more hospitals wish to participate. In concordance with this, there is also a broadening of interest occurring, ranging from physicians to nurses and other health care staff. They wish to communicate better and to stimulate teamwork in order to provide high quality health care to patients. CLeP can be an added value in reaching this goal.