Physician Leadership Graduate Program Launched to Develop New Generation of Health Care Problem Solvers
Release Date: 10/30/2007

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Collaborative effort involving Alegent Health, The Gallup Organization, and the Gallup Leadership Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers master’s degree with a specialization in executive physician leadership. OMAHA, Neb. — The complex and challenging nature of today’s health care system requires a new generation of physician leaders skilled in both health care and management roles. To address this need, Alegent Health has joined with The Gallup Organization and the Gallup Leadership Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to develop a comprehensive, 12- to 15-month master’s program that helps high-achieving physicians move beyond clinical functions and into the key executive roles needed to help health care organizations establish a more performance-oriented culture. “For the health care industry to achieve its stated goals of improved patient safety and excellence in clinical outcomes, we need strong physician leadership and highly skilled teams of physician administrators,’’ said Fred Hosler, M.D., MPA, and senior vice president and chief medical officer of Alegent Health. “Past attempts at physician leadership have been random, and it is imperative that we move to a more strategic and methodical approach. The UNL-Gallup program is unique in its focus, and it is structured to accommodate the needs of busy professionals.’’ Alegent Health helped inspire the executive physician leadership curriculum after identifying a growing need for strategic managers throughout the industry. Building physicians’ skills to assume clinical, team, operations, and other critical leadership roles is vital to the success of health care providers who must continue to work closely with their physician partners in the face of increasing organizational complexity. Alegent Health’s CEO Wayne Sensor said the collaborative effort with Gallup and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has the potential to transform the nation’s health care industry by creating a new generation of executives committed to consumer-focused care as well as the principles of quality, transparency and access. The idea is to create a learning community that draws physicians from across the country together to create a powerful constituency for change. “We are interested in being a catalyst — providing the stimulus for solutions that are not just local, but regional and national in scope,’’ Sensor said. “That is why it is so important that this project was formed as a partnership with the potential to achieve greater scope than any individual organizations could alone.’’ Stephanie Sharma, Associate Partner with Gallup, said research on executive leadership programs shows that learning outcomes are significantly affected by the “cohort effect.’’ That is, the knowledge, experience and motivation of other participants enrich all students. Further, as a part of the program, each participant has the unique advantage of being paired with his or her own Gallup executive coach who continues to work with the participant three years beyond graduation. Participants receive a master’s degree with a specialization in executive physician leadership upon completing 36 credit hours. The program’s curriculum was developed with substantial input from a physician advisory board, and includes courses covering topics such as strategic management and health care policy, applied organizational behavior, and information systems management. Said Sharma, “We intend for the Executive Physician Leadership program to support improved patient care, more effective financial controls, and enhanced use of operation and information of technology systems.’’ Six of Alegent Health’s physicians have enrolled in the inaugural program. Alegent Health pays full tuition for the foundational leadership component and pays a portion of the operational leadership and strategic leadership components. Alegent Health is evaluating the possibility of requiring such leadership education for those assuming positions with responsibilities equivalent to vice president or medical director roles. “We have been amazed at the amount of interest within the physician community about participating in the program,’’ said Hosler. “Some physicians in our leadership group are already expressing disappointment that they are not going to be in the first class.’’ Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based health care system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and roughly 8,600 employees. Alegent Health is making health care better with an exceptional commitment to quality and by providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person consistent with its faith-based mission. Alegent Health continues the health ministry begun by its sponsors, Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems, more than a hundred years ago. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation, home care and behavioral health. For more information about the executive physician leadership program, visit http://mba.gallup.com/content/?ci=28732.