Students high-five at a leadership day activity

Leadership Program

Influencing Positive Change

Physicians must provide transformational leadership at many levels. This begins with a deep self-awareness and connection to one's values, purpose and mission. Transformational leadership is key to building highly effective teams, fostering interprofessional collaboration, providing exceptional patient care, and positively impacting complex systems.

Michigan has a long history of graduating leaders. Our innovative program embeds and integrates leadership training during the entire medical school experience with mission to enhance and develop leadership skills and the ability to positively influence health care.

As a medical student at Michigan, your leadership and management skills are cultivated through a variety of action-based learning experiences. The majority of leadership skill and knowledge development will come from students’ experiences as leaders, through working on teams, observing other leaders and reflecting on their own and others’ experiences. Leadership learning will also come from interactions with mentors and coaches.

Fundamental leadership skills and concepts will be taught in didactic and small group sessions as a supplement to experiential and mentoring leadership learning. Through mentored experiential learning and specific training, students will:

  • Direct their own leadership journey based on their personal mission, vision and values.
  • Set and be accountable to specific goals.
  • Reflect on their own development to plan future professional and leadership engagement.

“We want all students to develop leadership skills, not just those who have been student leaders or come from leadership positions before medical school. A key part of leadership is self-awareness: understanding who we are and how we are perceived by others, and how that can (but doesn't have to) limit our growth. There are specific sets of behaviors and skills that you can develop whatever your inherent leadership style that can help you function well in different areas.”

Nell Burger Kirst, MD, Assistant Professor and Co-director, Leadership Development Program, and Brian Zink, MD, Professor, Emergency Medicine, Senior Associate Chair of Education and Faculty Development, and Co-director, Leadership Development Program

Specific activities in the Leadership Development Program are designed to develop leadership skills, including:

  • Large-group events:
    - Invited speakers.
  • Leadership 360° evaluation:
    - Feedback solicited from multiple evaluators pertaining to students’ leadership in different realms including academic, extracurricular and interpersonal.
  • Opportunities for 1-on-1 reflection on personal leadership development with faculty.
  • Small group, interactive learning sessions:
    In each small group, students are challenged to perform an informed self-assessment, then work with their peer groups to further develop and enrich their leadership skills.
    - Leading from within.
    - Presentation and speaking skills.
    - Challenging conversations.
    - Building and influencing teams.
    - Seeking and incorporating feedback.
    - Change management.
  • Capstone projects.
Francis Collins, MD, with Michigan medical students
Dr. Francis Collins, NIH director and UMMS alum, shares his story during a Conversations with Leadership event.

Conversations with Leadership

Throughout the year, notable University of Michigan Medical School alumni return to campus as featured guests of our Conversations with Leadership series. Alumni share their experiences and expertise, followed by a Q & A with students. Some speaker events are co-sponsored with student groups like NextGen Med and Med ECG.

Med Student Story Series

As part of the Medical Student Grand Rounds series, the Story Series gives students a chance to tell a story from their life and relate it to what they have learned so far in med school. These lunchtime events are co-sponsored with the Communication Collaborative, a student-run organization to help students improve their oral presentation skills.