Karen Barr Completes AAMC Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Certificate Program

Karen Barr, MD, Associate Professor and Program Director in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine received her LEAD certificate at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Western Group on Educational Affairs annual meeting in April, 2016. She was a member of the inaugural cohort, including fellows from peer institutions on the west coast including Stanford, University of California, San Francisco, and University of Southern California. 

The LEAD Certificate Program is designed primarily for early to mid-career faculty responsible for or aspiring to educational leadership in academic medicine. The program is an intensive, two-year, cohort-based leadership development program that provides the knowledge, skills, values, and practical experience educational professionals in academic medicine need to move into leadership roles. Mentoring by senior faculty, in-person leadership skill training and webinar-based community connections are critical components of the program.

Dr. Barr shares her LEAD project titled, “Mentoring from the Middle: How to lead by fostering a learning community of educators within an academic department”.

"For my LEAD applied leadership focus project, I addressed a question I had as a new Residency Program Director: How could I use my position to help faculty remain engaged in residency education despite all of the competing demands and stress of academic medicine? I knew I would only be successful as a Program Director if I had faculty with high vitality and the energy to take on the challenges inherent in teaching and working in a complex system undergoing constant change.

I conducted a literature search to learn what other programs have done to promote faculty vitality and prevent burn out and I was happy to see that there is a growing body of evidence that several approaches can be effective. I met with leaders at the University of Washington School of Medicine seeking their advice on this issue, and I was struck by their interest in this topic and hunger to engage in finding solutions. 

Some themes that emerged from the literature and my meetings included the importance of mentorship and collegial support, the benefits of personal reflection and reconnecting with core values and the meaning of our work, and the role that leaders play in showing how personal values can connect with institutional values. I used these themes to guide my projects for the next year. I started a peer mentoring group at my clinical site to provide both mentoring and collegial support, took a course in narrative medicine to improve my skills in leading reflective sessions, and worked with my chair to highlight the value our department places on teaching and mentoring. Using what I learned to take a leadership role in creating these new structures was very energizing, and I am excited to continue this work."

If you are interested in learning more about the LEAD program, please contact Dr. Barr at barrk@uw.edu or visiting the AAMC site via: https://www.aamc.org/members/gea/lead/