Paths to Leadership and faculty development

Defining a path to make a meaningful difference at OHSU

June 26, 2018

Georgiana Purdy, Ph.D., wants a strong faculty voice in decision making in the OHSU School of Medicine graduate programs. Amanda Miller, M.P.A.S., P.A.-C., wants to improve access to primary care. Josiah Orina, M.D., wanted to learn about leadership pathways and OHSU culture as a recent graduate and new faculty member.

video still - watch Paths to Leadership introductionTo gain traction, these OHSU School of Medicine faculty members enrolled in the Paths to Leadership program, co-facilitated by Jim Huntzicker, Ph.D., and Niki Steckler, Ph.D., professor and associate professor, respectively, in the school's Division of Management.

"Faculty come to an academic health center like OHSU because they want to make a difference," said Dr. Huntzicker.

"At OHSU," added Dr. Steckler, "learning to be an effective leader – leading from whatever seat you are in – also requires some sophisticated navigation skills because we are a large and complex place."

One of a host of faculty development offerings in the school

Paths to Leadership is funded by the school and provided at no cost to SoM faculty. The five-month class meets for 90 minutes weekly from January through May. Applications are accepted in late fall, advertised through the Inside the SoM blog. The course includes readings, videos and discussion, progressing through four thematic areas:

  • Making a Meaningful Difference at OHSU
  • Leading Your Life on Purpose
  • Mindsets for Understanding Complex Organizations
  • Storytelling That Moves People

A highlight is the OHSU leaders who share their career trajectory and experiences with the class. Speakers include Paths to Leadership alumni who are now in leadership positions as well as leaders at the highest levels at OHSU.

School of Medicine Dean Sharon Anderson, M.D., and Atif Zaman, M.D., M.P.H., senior associate dean for clinical and faculty affairs, were among guest speakers for the class of 2018 Paths to Leadership course, one of dozens of offerings in the school that teach about everything from mentoring to management to wellness to technical tools.

"It was especially cool to hear about the projects that faculty in the Paths to Leadership course are passionate about," Dr. Anderson said of her visit with the class. "We have such bright, committed faculty, and I'm excited for the work that Dr. Zaman, Dr. Steckler and a number of other faculty leaders are doing to organize and showcase faculty development offerings in the school to help faculty chart their path. Stay tuned for more on that!"

Participants distill focus in a "tram speech"

The Paths to Leadership course ends with a reception during which participants share their "tram speech," a distillation of the area in which they are focused on making a difference. The point: learn to share your vision and seek support to realize it.

Dr. Purdy, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, and director of the MMI Graduate Program, focused her tram speech on the importance of faculty voice in School of Medicine discussions and decision-making around a transformed Ph.D. program that will be more flexible and multidisciplinary. 

Paths to Leadership 2018 cohort

Teaming up: the 2018 Paths to Leadership cohort outside Mackenzie Hall

"Paths to Leadership gave me a better understanding of how OHSU functions," Dr. Purdy said. "I learned more about effective leadership and communication practices that will hopefully help me be more successful and efficient."

As an assistant professor of family medicine and a physician assistant at the OHSU Gabriel Park Clinic, Amanda Miller can see across the primary care continuum. While in Paths to Leadership, she seized snippets of time to look at clinic workflows and understand the quality improvement work going on to make primary care accessible to more people.

In her tram speech, Miller said that focusing on how to make things better has improved her sense of well-being and professional satisfaction.

"Paths to Leadership completely changed my outlook on what power I have to lead from where I currently stand in our institution," Miller said. "We were given unparalleled opportunity to meet with and learn from OHSU leadership. I am optimistic about my future as an OHSU leader."

Dr. Orina, assistant professor of neurological surgery, focused his tram speech on growing the adult spinal deformity program in which he works. But he found the course helpful far beyond that: "The readings introduced us to important concepts in leading such as humility, vulnerability, listening, storytelling, and seeking allies," Dr. Orina said. "The guest speakers provided real tangible examples of successful leadership qualities from their personal experiences. And the interactions I experienced with classmates from different walks within OHSU were enriching, and helped broaden my perspective on the difference I want to make here."