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2013/2014 AAEM/RSA President
Originally Published: Common Sense November/December 2013
Leadership is creating a way for people to contribute to making something happen, developing an environment that allows cohesion and a drive toward a common goal. Leadership affects our lives on a constant basis and our role in the hierarchy changes as we shift from one environment to another: parent, boss, teacher, mentor. Leadership is a skill and learned behavior that becomes second nature over time and is important to cultivate, especially when working in the emergency department. In the ED we orchestrate the movement and flow of patients, staff, and resources, in a delicate yet chaotic balance. As we progress through residency, we gain the leadership skills to manage all the pieces until we unconsciously and fluidly become leaders in the field.
#1: Make Decisions
Being able to integrate data, understand cause and effect, calculate variables, and coming to a strategic conclusion are imperative abilities. When you first enter the medical field you want to dive into everything and get your hands on the patient, but as we progress we step further back. Over time, we develop an appreciation to take in the whole picture and direct ED flow that allows for anticipation and quick actions. We become instinctual decision makers having experienced the impact of our choices thus becoming immune to the pressure that comes with decision-making.
#2: Good Communication
Being adaptable and mastering the capacity to communicate with the melting pot of a typical ED allows for rapport with your patients, support staff, and colleagues. Effective leaders master the ability to clearly convey expectations, measure performance, and leave the door open to ideas. Physical and verbal cues can take a chaotic room to a calm working situation where each member can contribute and be utilized to the fullest. Mastery of dialogue also allows the encouragement of others to voice their opinions. There are few so wise that they cannot learn from others and allowing transmission of viewpoints gives everyone the opportunity to grow.
#3: Challenge Others to Think
It is easy to step into the leadership role and dictate tasks. Identify the capabilities and talent of those around you and challenge your team to reach their potential. Give people the chance for ownership and the freedom of creativity. Empower others to become leaders around you. As Lao-Tzu said, “The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, “Amazing, we did it, all by ourselves!”
#4: Lead by Example
Leadership is an action, cultivate trust and expect more from yourself than anyone else. Be a leader that advances yourself, those around you, and take joy in your efforts. “When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists; next best is a leader who is loved, next one that is feared. The worst is one who is despised.”
There are tons of ways to get national leadership experience through AAEM/RSA. As a resident you can join the VP Council and be the voice of RSA at your institution, join a committee, and run for the board of directors this February. As a student, become your medical school’s EMIG contact, join a committee, or run for the Medical Student Council. The Scientific Assembly is just a few months away. Michael Gottlieb and the education committee have been hard at work finalizing the resident track. Mary Calderone, the Medical Student Council president, is creating an event that medical students shouldn’t miss! The Scientific Assembly is being held in New York City on February 11-15th and is free for all members, with refundable deposit. We hope to see you all there!