Leadership development, collaboration, and health policy—these are the top three benefits of the Society of General Internal Medicine’s (SGIM) Leadership in Health Policy career development program (LEAHP). I can’t recommend this program to enough of my colleagues and learners.
I have always held an avid interest in health policy, attending Hill Days at the State and National level, subscribing to Health Affairs and watching Meet the Press since the days of Tim Russert. I enjoyed teaching my fellow residents, and then colleagues, on health policy topics whether in residency senior grand rounds or then with colleagues at departmental meetings and journal clubs. However, LEAHP gives participants much more than health policy knowledge. Yes, there are wonderful virtual didactics with well-known expert speakers and policy updates that one would otherwise not have access. Yes, each LEAHP participant is assigned a mentor and thus has unrivaled access to Q&A, mentoring, and project development. Yet, when I look back on my participation in the first class of the LEAHP program, I think of the leadership skills I cultivated and the connections I made.
I had been a member of the SGIM’s health policy committee since residency. Yet, LEAHP propelled my health policy niche forward to become the chair of our SGIM Hill Day, chair of our SGIM health policy clinical practice subcommittee, a member of the Acumen LLC advisory committees to CMS on episode-based cost measures for MACRA, and ultimately the chair of the Acumen sepsis committee on episode-based cost measures for MACRA. All of these leadership opportunities have opened the doors to collaborations with colleagues across the country. I am delighted to see many other LEAHP graduates rising in health policy leadership ranks within SGIM, their institutions, and nationally.
Without LEAHP, I am certain that I would not have accomplished the collaborative work that I have. Working with past and current LEAHP scholars has led to many workshops, nationally and regionally, as well as writing groups. The roots of health policy are felt within every aspect of care delivery and patient outcomes. With LEAHP, I have been able to connect with colleagues working in clinical practice, health equity, and research to find common areas for collaboration where our Venn diagrams meet. Without the policy knowledge gained from LEAHP, it would be far more difficult to become a content “expert.” LEAHP’ers will constantly be striving toward this end: give us the knowledge and watch us go.
Advocacy for a single patient does not stop at the bedside or on the phone with a consultant. LEAHP graduates are poised to advocate more broadly for both our patients and for our colleagues and to create the opportunity to become local, regional, and national leaders in health policy.