A new multidisciplinary training program at the University of Pennsylvania is intended to improve patient safety by improving the leadership abilities of its clinicians, physician executives at the Philadelphia school say.
The department of surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School and the university's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics have teamed to establish the Penn Medicine Patient Safety Leadership Academy. Penn officials are calling it the first institute in the nation to concentrate on leadership as an effective means of improving clinical quality.
Participants will learn how to lead, how to manage change, how to negotiate and how to communicate with colleagues and subordinates, according to academy Chair Jim Mullen, M.D.
The academic medical center has worked with Wharton--Penn's renowned business school--for several years on instilling business skills in surgical chiefs and other department heads. However, Mullen says the new program is the first to emphasize the role effective communication plays in getting clinical staff to buy into safety processes that maintain continuity of care and produce positive outcomes.
Penn launched the academy last month with a three-day program involving 42 nonexecutive staff surgeons, medical residents, nurses and physician assistants. Mullen says the group will meet monthly through April and have one more three-day session as part of the initial eight-month pilot project.
The initial class will divide into small groups to tackle specific patient safety projects, as determined by academy leadership, Mullen says.
"The focus is on training people to be leaders, and hopefully that will translate to patient safety," says Mullen, professor and vice chair of surgery at Penn Medical Center. "If you can train leaders and effective managers, then you increase your chance of leveraging patient safety efforts across a lot of people."