By Jodi Skiles, MD, MS, Indiana University School of Medicine
I saw the advertisement for the ASTCT Leadership Course in the weekly newsletter. Intrigued, I clicked on the link to find a brief description of the course inviting young leaders to apply. I remember thinking that it sounded interesting and thought about applying, but wasn’t sure if it would be a fruitful use of time, especially when time is such a precious commodity. Nonetheless, I (somewhat skeptically) applied. When I was notified a few weeks later that I had been selected to participate in the course, I was honored and my mentors were thrilled, but I still had no idea what to expect.
Fast forward to last week when I arrived in Chicago and was immediately greeted by the giants in the field of transplantation; people who I have admired from a distance, but never thought I would meet – let alone have the opportunity to be personally mentored by them. In addition to some truly inspirational senior leaders in the field, I quickly came to realize that I was part of an elite group of course participants whose collective accomplishments are quite impressive.
While the inaugural course kick-off was only two days, I came away feeling as though I had been handed invaluable lessons that typically require years of trial and error to acquire. While the benefits I experienced from participating in this course are numerous, I can distill the most salient lessons in to a just a few points:
- Networking: I spent 48 hours with 12 junior and 12 senior leaders. I walked away from the course knowing that I could reach out to any of them anytime with any challenge confident that I would be met with the kindness of a seasoned friendship.
- Leadership 101: By the nature of our careers in medicine, all of us are motivated and accomplished individuals. However, managing and leading people is not as intuitive as it might seem. Leading is a skill that can be enhanced with formal training and augmented by intentionally evaluating how our personality impacts they way in which we lead. Knowing our own leadership personality can enhance our ability to lead effectively.
- The business of transplant: while we all find joy in helping patients, there is a business acumen that is required to effectively lead a program. Those of us that have had the (dis)pleasure of negotiating with our hospital systems for additional resources know that hospital administrators sometimes seem to speak a different language. Participating in this course has helped me understand how C-suite administrators think. There is a science and strategy to garnering their support and now I feel like I have been equipped with the tools to speak their language to optimize my chances of success.
- We are a team: the transplant community is small. My program’s struggles are OUR struggles and vice versa. We can learn from and help one another if we leverage our skills and networks correctly.
It is my hope and expectation that this first inaugural leadership course will be one of many to come and I would highly recommend anyone who is considering leading a BMT program to apply. Your ability to lead effectively will undoubtedly be enhanced.
Many thanks to ASTCT staff Anna Hawkshead, Kirk Lanzone Terry and all of our fearless leaders who have poured into us over the last few days. Our gratitude hardly seems sufficient in exchange for the invaluable lessons you have shared with us that will undoubtedly propel our careers and the field of transplantation for many years to come.