Since the implementation of Focus Forward, the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) has directed its member education and training on leadership skills and other non-clinical topics, with some clinical training mixed in. The KMA’s Annual Meeting, for instance, used to include a variety of clinical topics.
Now, the education offered at the meeting is known as the KMA Leadership Conference, with various speakers from around the country on subjects that help physicians take a leadership role in their communities, such as communications and health policy presentations.
In 2017, with the help of the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care, KMA began a new physician leadership training initiative known as the “Kentucky Physician Leadership Institute,” or KPLI.
Working with staff from Butler University, the new four weekend cohort program includes training specific to personal leadership, business leadership and advocacy leadership, and concludes with the
KMA’s Leadership Conference. Last year’s class of physicians had the chance to interact with health system leaders, political leaders and a state Supreme Court Justice, all while learning various leadership skills.
KMA also introduced its new Community Connector Leadership Program that recognizes physicians who take a leadership role in their communities. This program created a ready-list of physicians around the state who can step up when needed.
“Our Community Connectors provide leadership to organizations in their communities, both inside and outside of medicine,” said KMA’s Vice President Brent Wright, MD, who was KMA board chair during the Focus Forward initiative. “I’m a Community Connector myself and that unique recognition provides physicians with a variety of ways to become further involved.”
KMA provides scholarships to Community Connectors who want to participate in the KPLI, and also makes grants available to charitable organizations for which Community Connectors volunteer..
“Our new advocacy programs and outlets have helped us make more of an impact,” Wright said. “Just this past year, our annual meeting featured author Sam Quinones, who wrote a great book about the opioid epidemic. He said he thought the answer to solving that epidemic was in rebuilding our communities. That night, I was recognized as a KMA Community Connector. The coincidence of that recognition and his opinion on how to address the opioid issue did not escape me.”
The KMA’s strategic planning success became so apparent, a group of UK and UL medical students wanted to conduct their own session to see how they might become more involved in the KMA. The students met at KMA headquarters and with the assistance of KMA’s Executive Vice President Patrick Padgett and consultant Nancy Wiser, developed a new medical student leadership program that continues today.
“We had over fifty students honored at our annual meeting last year for completing the Medical Student Outreach and Leadership Program (MSOL),” Padgett said. “Medical students value their professional association as much as physicians who practice today. That’s a great sign for the future.”
The main facet of the student program includes presentations on health policy and personal issues that students don’t normally hear during medical school. Padgett said after one presentation to a group of medical students, he ran over time and apologized to a faculty member ready to start class.
“No problem,” the faculty member said. “I wish someone had told me that stuff before I went into practice.”