MasterClass Series Helps Family Doctors Develop World Class Leadership Skills

Jan 14, 2019

Family physicians were given the opportunity to develop advanced leadership skills as part of the first-ever MasterClass Series in Family Doctor Leadership, launched by the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) in the fall of 2018.

Facilitated by Dr. David White, Vice Chair, Family Doctor Leadership, the MasterClass was a series of five classes, each hosted by a prominent faculty member that had been selected for their expertise in a range of areas of family medicine. It was based on a concept from classical music and performing arts, in which experts in a discipline share their wisdom and insights with rising stars.

The participants were faculty from DFCM’s teaching hospital sites across the GTA who showed promising leadership qualities and had been recognized by their site chiefs and program leaders as having something special to offer family medicine. These doctors were invited to attend the MasterClass to improve their abilities and develop their skills as leaders in family medicine.

“Family physicians bring specific, valuable perspectives and capabilities to leadership in clinical, academic and health system roles,” says Dr. White. “It’s essential we support more family physicians to become leaders so we have a great impact on transforming health care delivery and contributing to a better health system.”

Held every two weeks, the classes were led by prominent speakers and faculty members Drs. Michael Kidd, Rick Glazier, Danielle Martin, Marla Shapiro and Cynthia Whitehead. Topics explored during the series included working with government, industry and not for profits, health and medical research and working with the media.

“The MasterClass was a great opportunity for the participants to hear from and interact with our senior faculty members who are world-class leaders in diverse family medicine leadership positions,” says Dr. White. “There was also the collegial aspect – the participants were able to interact with and get to know their fellow peers within the department. The social aspect of the event made networking more accessible to the participants.”

The classes were also an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. At the beginning of the course, the participants were asked to submit a challenge they have had to address in their work or to identify an area in the broader healthcare field where they see an opportunity to make a difference. They then reflected on this challenge as they progressed through the classes to see if they had learned more effective ways of addressing it. For the class leaders, this provided an opportunity to determine what types of challenges the participants were dealing with, what they considered to be a problem, and what some of the possible solutions were.

This is the first year for the MasterClass and a post-series evaluation is being analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the class and to observe the ways the participants apply what they learned from the experience and how they can use it to their advantage in their careers as family doctors.

“We’re still assessing what’s next for the series,” says Dr. White. “While the full evaluation is still being completed, initial reviews are very positive, and we’re hoping to explore new ways to offer programs like this to more of our faculty.”