Spokane Journal of Business

Gonzaga, UW medical school partner on leadership program

Future doctors to learn emotional intelligence through new program

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Medical school can be a place to treat people without knowing a thing about them.

That’s why the University of Washington School of Medicine has entered a partnership with Gonzaga University’s School of Leadership Studies to create “Leadership Pathway” for UW med students.

“Fair or not, doctors are viewed as leaders in their communities,” says Dr. Darryl Potyk, chief of medical education for the UW School of Medicine-Gonzaga Regional Health Partnership, and UWSOM associate dean for Eastern Washington.

“As CEOs, we don’t have much in the way of leadership training,” he says.

Leadership Pathway is designed to change that. The program seeks to equip students with knowledge and experience while connecting them with mentors in the greater Spokane community and in both colleges.

In addition to operating their own practices in some cases, physicians often find themselves being named heads of boards and nonprofits.

Rosemarie Hunter, dean of Gonzaga’s School of Leadership Studies, says, “People will assume you’re a leader when you walk into a room because of the M.D. behind your name.”

Potyk says medical school students receive some leadership training as part of their regular curriculum, but Leadership Pathway has been crafted to beef up that effort.

“We’re the first medical school I’m aware of to partner with a School of Leadership Studies and give students an opportunity to emphasize leadership in their medical training,” he says.

Rachelle Strawther, director of leadership training and development, says the Leadership Pathway coursework starts with self-leadership. Students will learn to identify their strengths and weaknesses and then explore how that fits with the doctor-patient relationship.

“They’re going to be more effective in team environments, better equipped to respond to situations, and have a greater ability to manage stress,” Strawther says.

She adds, “Medicine is a high-stress, high-consequence profession. With so much emphasis on technical skills, there’s often not time to develop emotional intelligence skills.”

The next step covers learning to lead with others, discovering leadership in others, team dynamics, and conflict resolution.

In this, the program’s inaugural year, 25 of the 60 incoming UWSOM students applied for Leadership Pathway, and 15 were accepted. Those students will take the leadership classes and pursue their medical education concurrently. 

Kevin Blocker
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