The Value of Leadership Education in Medical School

Yash B. Shah


January 19, 2022

One of my favorite commitments during the early months of medical school was Physician Executive Leadership (PEL). It was created to serve as a "mini-MBA" for medical students with the goal of training future leaders in the healthcare space.

Through this program, students are exposed to a longitudinal program supplementing the normal curriculum that teaches them about the role of a physician outside of the clinical setting. We connect with leaders in healthcare, including those running large hospital systems, innovating novel solutions in medical design, serving as authorities in public health, and managing large industry corporations or startups.

In addition, students partake in capstone projects that are designed to make a direct impact on the Thomas Jefferson University hospital system. We have worked on projects ranging from novel medical education tools to a streamlined discharge pathway, an integrated social determinants screening, and an improved Epic workflow in the hospital.

These projects may not sound like the typical clinical research that medical students engage in, but the hope is that such real-life experiences will improve patient outcomes at an overarching level.

Along with the need for new scientific understanding and novel therapeutics, US healthcare is long overdue for more systemic solutions that address efficiency, preventative care, and logistics.

These nonmedical changes can profoundly improve patient outcomes. However, to make such changes, we need leaders who have a deep understanding of leadership, design thinking, and economics, in addition to their medical knowledge. PEL aims to confer these skills while also helping students develop key competencies including teamwork and communication.

We have certainly entered this profession with the primary goal of working directly with patients in the clinical setting. However, over the past several years, and particularly with the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, our society has learned the importance of having broader leadership from physicians.

Physicians offer unique insights to governance and healthcare management because they have worked at the ground level and can ensure that the interests of patients and healthcare professionals are being addressed by management. In the past, we often lacked the business education necessary to build upon this advantage.

Through PEL, I have been able to meet numerous mentors who serve not only as an inspiration, but also as sources of guidance for students who are looking to contribute to the field beyond clinical care. I hope that as our leaders learn the importance of integrating a medical science education with other fields, future physicians will be able to better advance the healthcare industry.

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About Yash B. Shah
Yash Shah is a first-year medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor of science in premedicine from Penn State University. Prior to attending medical school, Yash worked on clinical and translational research in hematology/oncology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Yash has long-standing interests in advancing medical education, improving healthcare policy and economics, and working with cancer patients. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, rooting for the Eagles, reading, and traveling.


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