3 Leadership Lessons I Learned at the Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit


I didn’t realize that leadership was a skill you could learn until I attended Primary Care Progress’s (PCP) Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit, a retreat for leaders of PCP teams across the nation. Last year, students from more than 50 health professional schools came together in Minneapolis, MN, to attend the Summit. This annual retreat is one way PCP fulfills its mission to build effective interprofessional student teams, promote interprofessional awareness at health professions schools, and train future primary care clinicians to be leaders who will not only be prepared to lead high-functioning primary care practices in their communities but also ignite a nationwide movement to transform primary care. A leader who simply delegates tasks can only achieve short, small-scale goals, but a leader who can unite all members of a team under a common vision and passion can achieve large-scale, effective change. At the Summit, I learned some powerful tools to help me become that type of leader.

At the 2017 Summit, Kimberly Lin (third from right) shares a moment with students from other PCP Teams and members from PCP’s Leadership Pathway.

First, storytelling. Sharing stories about a common passion for a cause can strengthen ties between teammates and buy-in to work together for the cause we share.

Second, one-to-one recruiting. Instead of contacting masses of people and bribing them with food to attend team meetings, a more sustainable way to recruit invested team members is to see who has values that are genuinely in line with the core values of the team. At the Summit, we learned to ask open-ended questions, listen well, and assess whether someone would enjoy being a part of our team. Quality, and not quantity, of teammates is the worthier long-term investment.

Finally, effective brainstorming sessions. There are two methods of brainstorming: divergent and convergent. In divergent brainstorming, everyone shouts out any idea or solution they think of in a judgement-free setting where no one can comment or offer opinion on anyone’s ideas. This is followed by convergent brainstorming in which members can only suggest solutions that meet predetermined criteria, such as cost, time, and long-term impact. All ideas are categorized, rated, and voted upon until one comes out on top.

Putting Lessons into Practice

Coming back to Pittsburgh and putting these skills to practice with my own PCP team, [email protected], I was encouraged to see them bear fruition. After several one-to-ones, I was able to recruit a passionate medical student to take over my position with [email protected], something which I had been unsuccessful in doing for the past 6 months through public postings. My co-leader, who had attended a Summit before, also had found several interested students from different health science schools through one-to-ones. At our following team meeting, nearly half of the room was full of new members. We decided to start off the meeting with storytelling, having new members share their story of what brought them to this meeting. Little did we know that we would leave that meeting half an hour later than we usually end, captivated by the inspiring stories that unraveled, leading to the sprouting of spontaneous conversations among those with common interests, and leaving us with a handful of ideas more to start off our next meeting.

While it might be easier to post flyers about your organization and then delegate tasks to produce an immediate result, investing the time in learning and practicing true leadership that fosters a sense of community is a worthwhile endeavor with far greater returns.

Kimberly Lin is an M.D. Candidate, Class of 2020 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Since becoming involved with the [email protected] Team last year, Kimberly has helped expand advocacy among the health science administration on campus, presented data at several conferences on interprofessional attitudes among students at her campus, and seen the attendance to [email protected]’s interprofessional events triple. Her participation with PCP has shown her the power of interprofessional collaboration in healthcare and hopes to one day work in an interprofessional setting within primary care. An excerpt of this blog post was originally published on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Alumni Association blog.

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