Thursday, July 2, 2015

Leadership Development in Undergraduate Medical Education

Amy Smith, MEd
Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

Background: Students who are elected into official class officer positions were not given a formal orientation or training materials that would assist them in their leadership roles. This lack of training led to misunderstandings, misperceptions and frustration between students and administration.

Aim: The defined purpose of this project is to determine if a structured leadership orientation program for newly elected class officers will improve the knowledge and skills for improved communication, critical thinking and decision making abilities of undergraduate medical student leaders.

Methods: Three focus group meetings were held with students and administration. Student session number one was held before the orientation program and session number two after the orientation. The faculty focus group meeting was held prior to student meetings; comments were made about needing leadership education and a formal orientation program and that was the start of this project. Additionally, student knowledge was assessed with a pre-test and post-test of the orientation content.

Results: In the administrative focus group meetings, the themes of the discussion noted lack of maturity, lack of decision making ability, lack of communication skills and overall weakness in understanding expectations of class leadership roles. In student session one, students overwhelmingly noted the qualities of an effective and ineffective leader and all stated that they had no understanding of what is expected of them in the new elected roles. Session two, the students all agreed that a formal orientation program was useful, informative and much needed for success.

Conclusion: Based upon the findings, administration and student class officers find that a formal orientation program is needed to address the knowledge gaps found in class leadership positions.