“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”
—Georg C. Lichtenburg
Leading change is never easy. Many a physician has joined a committee, hired a promising project manager, assumed responsibility for an operational or clinical task—only to have it painfully falter or agonizingly fail. Unfortunately, some of us become disillusioned with the process, donning our white coats to return to the safe ensconce of clinical work rather than take on another perilous change or leadership task. But ask those that have tried and failed and those that have succeeded and they will tell you this: the lessons learned in the journey were invaluable.
Academic medical centers and healthcare organizations are increasingly turning to hospitalists to assume a myriad of leadership roles. With very little formal training, many of us jump in to improve organizational culture, financial accountability, and patient safety, literally building the bridge as we walk on it. The practical knowledge and know-how gleaned in efforts during these endeavors are perhaps just as important as evidence-based medicine. And yet, few venues to share and disseminate these insights currently exist.
This void represents the motivation behind the new Journal series entitled, “Leadership & Professional Development” or “LPD.” In these brief excerpts, lessons on leadership/followership, mentorship/menteeship, leading change and professional development will be shared using a conversational and pragmatic tone. Like a clinical case, pearls to help you navigate development and organizational challenges will be shared. The goal is simple: read an LPD and walk away with an “a-ha,” a new tool, or a strategy that you can use ASAP. For example, in the debut LPD—Hire Hard1—we emphasize a cardinal rule for hiring: wait for the right person. Waiting is not easy, but it is well worth it in the long run—the right person will make your job that much better. Remember the aphorism: A’s hire A’s while B’s hire C’s.
Many other nuggets of wisdom can fit an LPD model. For example, when it comes to stress, a technique that brings mindfulness to your day—one you can practice with every patient encounter—might be the ticket.2 Interested in mentoring? You’ll need to know the Six Golden Rules.3 And don’t forget about emotional intelligence, tight-loose-tight management or the tree-climbing monkey! Don’t know what these are? Time to read an LPD or two to find out!
As you might have guessed—some of these pieces are already written. They come from a book that my colleague, Sanjay Saint and I have been busy writing for over a year. The book distills much of what we have learned as clinicians, researchers and administrators into a collection we call, “Thirty Leadership Rules for Healthcare Providers.” But LPD is not an advert for the book; rather, our contributions will only account for some of the series. We hope this venue will become a platform in where readers like you can offer “pearls” to the broader community. The rules are simple: coin a rule/pearl, open with an illustrative quote, frame it in 650 words with no more than five references, and write it so that a reader can apply it to their work tomorrow. And don’t worry—we on the editorial team will help you craft them if the message makes sense. Interested? Send us an email atwith an idea and watch your Inbox—an invitation for an LPD might be in your future.
Dr. Chopra has nothing to disclose.