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A Homegrown Approach to Physician Leadership

   May 29, 2014

Physician leadership expertise doesn't have to come from a consulting firm. A large nonprofit health system in the Pacific Northwest has developed its own leadership academy, which is saving money and providing physicians with problem-solving tools and skills.

Like many other health systems and hospitals, Legacy Health, one of the largest health systems in metropolitan Portland, OR, looked to outside help provide leadership development opportunities for its employed physicians. With six hospitals, a medical group, hospice, and other health clinics, the large system needed a robust program that could handle volume with ease.

After weighing the benefits and costs, Legacy Health decided instead to launch its own leadership initiative in 2009, called the Physician Leadership Academy.

After five years, Lisa Goren, co-director of the academy and program director for physician alignment & engagement, says Legacy Health has saved money and provided physicians with crucial training they don't get in medical school by building its leadership program internally.

"We estimate savings of at least $500,000 by offering it in-house," says Goren. "When I look at doctors, most don't have a first job until 26, then they get so much medical training in residency that by the time they're in their early 30s, patients ask, 'Why are they like that?' We have to take it into our own hands to mold the rest of their professional development. It was an obligation, but now it's a necessity."

Legacy's Physician Leadership Academy offers physicians free continuing medical education credits to its physicians as a way to encourage participation in leadership classes.


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Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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