As a new allergist, practice outside of fellowship is full of complications previously not encountered. In addition to finally becoming the “end of the line” for patient care decisions, young physicians are also faced with an onslaught of other responsibilities. Leading a clinical practice, leading office or hospital ancillary staff, and leading residents and fellows are just a few examples. Unfortunately leadership is a nebulous term. It is something that we all hope to see in ourselves and inspire in others, yet the practicalities of leadership are often elusive and its execution is not succinct, precise, or easy.
Twenty of us young allergists attended the first College Leadership Summit in Chicago on March 25 and 26. The Summit included interactive teaching on communication and conflict resolution from a professional facilitator as well as information about advocacy and leadership specific for allergists. At this Summit, we learned techniques to assess our personal behavioral styles and the behavior styles of those around us in order to have more successful communication. Through role-playing and personal assessment, we learned a conversational framework to help us resolve conflict and learn to delegate responsibilities. While many of these skills are usually only acquired after years of experience, I found I was personally able to begin utilizing the knowledge I acquired on leadership immediately and I continue to use the information I learned on a daily basis.
Another form of leadership we addressed at the College Leadership Summit is advocacy. Advocacy within our specialty is a growing need given the advancement of non-physician and non-allergist practitioners as well as laws encroaching upon the ability of allergists to perform needed practices within our field. The Summit provided practical and useful information about advocacy including encouraging attendees to take advantage of clinical experience in order to relay real-life scenarios to lawmakers. We also learned about methods of communication with congressmen and local community leaders and the most effective approach to have impactful dialogue.
The College Leadership Summit was a very educational, worthwhile experience. Since attending, I have been able to more easily define goals, evaluate methods of approach, and effectively execute tasks. I feel more confident in my interactions with colleagues, staff, students and residents. I now believe that I can effect change as an allergist and I have tools to be able to do so. I encourage all of those who are young allergists to apply to future College Leadership Summits.
Meagan Shepherd, MD, FACAAI