Leadership has always been an essential skill within medicine but that need has accelerated with the sweeping changes in health care. Traditionally, gaining these skills has happened more by chance than design and typically later in one’s career. Increasingly, however, there is the recognition that teaching and training in these skills should become a part of graduate medical education (GME) across all specialties.
Within organized neurosurgery, this has been recognized, and programmatic efforts have been made. For example, through initiatives of the CNS Resident Committee, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons created the Leadership Fellow Program, which allows residents to apply directly to serve on CNS committees. The current program includes two-year terms on each of seven CNS committees: Resident, Fellowship, CNS Quarterly, International, Development, Education and SANS. The residents participate in ongoing committee initiatives and creation of CNS resources. Through their involvement, they are afforded the opportunity to garner a greater understanding of organized neurosurgery and the early chance to give back to their profession. The opportunities for resident involvement will be in constant evolution as we strive to balance the opportunities within the organization and optimal experience for the residents involved.
Thus far, feedback has been positive, with residents eager to understand how the CNS, through its volunteers, can continue to provide innovative resources and educational opportunities for the membership. They develop relationships with CNS leadership and gain mentors along the way. For more information about CNS educational and leadership opportunities, check out the Winter 2016 issue of Congress Quarterly — “Cultivating the Future: Educational and Leadership Opportunities for Residents” — which includes more details on the CNS Resident initiatives.
Another outstanding opportunity to develop leadership skills is sponsored by the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies (CSNS). Each year 13 residents are selected to become socioeconomic fellows — 12 are chosen based on their geographic location, and one is a military representative. These fellows fully participate in all of the activities of the CSNS, have two mentors (one former fellow and one CSNS member), gain considerable insight into the spectrum of socioeconomic issues, and have many opportunities to interact with a broad range of neurosurgeons and neurosurgical leaders. Many CSNS socioeconomic fellows have continued to remain active in the CSNS, and several have moved into positions of leadership within the CSNS, AANS, CNS and the Washington Committee. More information and applications can be found online.
Residency is a busy time. There is pressure to master patient care and surgical technique, read and publish — all while also preserving those fundamental human needs that allow us to continue to strive each day to be our best. Pursuing leadership opportunities is a rewarding experience for those individuals that have the desire to give back to the profession and gain a more global perspective of neurosurgery. Residents should seriously consider these opportunities, and look for ways they can make an impact in the profession. It’s never too early to get involved.
Editor’s Note: During the month of March, we encourage everyone to join the conversation online by using the hashtag #gmemonth.