This past fall, Department of Surgery leadership launched the Infinite Leadership Academy, a new initiative aimed at fostering personal and professional development among surgical providers, and preparing the next generation of surgical leaders.
The six-month program embraces one of Texas Children’s cultural cornerstones – leadership – and takes it to a new level, with a curriculum specially developed to help surgeons and APPs recognize their potential and hone their leadership skills. The academy – now in its fourth month – also underscores the Department of Surgery’s ongoing commitment to investing in its people.
“Leadership skills, like technical surgical skills, take practice to master,” said Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier. “We’ve recognized that early in a career, it’s critical to develop skills that have more to do with how you fit into a team structure, how you involve others in critical decision-making, and how you move the care of the patient forward. To practice those skills effectively, it is helpful to have someone coach you. This is the goal of the leadership academy”
The program kicked off with a personality and behavior assessment to help the 20 inaugural participants more firmly identify their core skills and leadership styles. After initial evaluation, participants began taking part in regular monthly sessions designed to help build on leadership strengths. The curriculum includes lectures, reading assignments, coursework and group projects, developed to help each participant understand their personal vision and function as part of a team that can innovate and improve.
“In the limited time that I’ve been in the program, I already feel it has allowed me to become a better person and an improved leader,” said Dr. Mary Frances Musso, surgical sleep director at Texas Children’s Hospital. “I have a better understanding of my vision for growing the surgical sleep program at Texas Children’s. Leadership to me is about making new discoveries, creating a team, motivating advancement and leading the team to new innovations. It is powerful to stop and reflect how I can now improve my approach to different situations by looking at them from a different point of view and utilizing the new tools I have gained from this program. I feel invigorated to lift others up to become better leaders.”
Another key component of the program is the integration of Texas Children’s Breakthrough Communication, a course facilitated by providers and designed to equip surgeons, physicians and APPs with tools to enhance and better organize patient encounters.
“Communication in a children’s hospital environment is extraordinarily complex,” said Hollier. “We’ve developed a communication course that’s the first of its kind to teach our providers how to compassionately and effectively communicate with the patient – regardless of their age – and the parent or guardian. It will also eventually include strategies for communicating with other providers. This is and will continue to be an essential part of the leadership academy curriculum.”
The response thus far from participants has been tremendous.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest, and currently there are more people who want to participate than we have slots,” said Hollier. “The intention going forward is to have these on a rolling basis, and to develop ongoing training for people who’ve already availed themselves of these early courses.”