Department of Medicine

Leadership Curriculum

Physicians emerging from training today have a greater need than ever before in acquiring knowledge of population medicine and public health issues, as well as in their appreciation of the medical profession’s responsibility to preserve and promote the health of communities.

The Department of Medicine’s educational philosophy is built upon several pillars: 

Yet nothing is more essential to our success than the department’s commitment to embed leadership into every aspect of its educational program.  By embracing leadership our faculty hopes to not only train physicians who are intellectually rigorous, compassionate and skilled, but physicians who are also capable of inspiring and leading change in a complex health care environment.

Knowledge about the American Health Care System

For physicians to serve effectively as agents of change and to improve American health care, they need to understand the current system’s strengths and weaknesses; where the system succeeds, and where it fails. Too few departments of medicine currently prepare physicians to examine the health care system critically and to develop strategies for system improvement.

Organizational Behavior

Stanford seeks to impart in students the negotiation and consensus building skills that are necessary to navigate health care organizations and make the linkages with community organizations that prove so critical to improving the health of the public.


Physicians must work with other health care professionals in their provision of care to individual patients; researchers often must build collaborations for their studies to achieve maximum impact; and institutional leaders must work together with other institutions and/or disciplines to enact change at the system level. 

Exposure to New Experiences

Provide trainees with practical leadership experiences and opportunities in non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community settings. We will bring leaders in health care reform to campus to meet with students and analyze how each individual has brought about and managed change.  These leaders can be individuals who have made real differences in international health, health system reform, and/or public policy reform through their work with professional societies, non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations or other organizations involved in health care delivery.

Analysis of Personal Leadership Skills

Stanford seeks to train medical residents to become self-aware about their own individual leadership skill sets, as well as teach them how to continually develop their leadership skills.  Adaptability, ethics, drive, decision-making, problem-solving, strategic thinking and management capability (of oneself as well as others) are all traits of successful leaders. 

Understanding the Values of Change

The final and perhaps most important leadership elements for physicians in training to understand are the values that underlie social change.  Physicians must commit to a set of values to transform the profession of medicine into a profession that encompasses expanded notions of the physician’s responsibility to society

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