Course curriculum

The Physician Leadership Program is designed to develop the next wave of thought leaders who will shape the future of Ontario’s health-care system.

The program’s course curriculum was developed with the recognition that strong physician leaders drive the most effective health-care organizations and systems. Emerging leaders not only need dedicated time to develop new skills and tools, but time to reflect upon how to bring innovative change to their practices, communities and the broader health-care system.

Courses focus on everything from developing empathy and resilience to cultivating an ability to influence others whether it is individuals, government or institutional stakeholders. Participants will also learn about how artificial intelligence is impacting health-care and how to effectively deploy design thinking and much more.

The 10-day program will be delivered in four modules, 2.5 days each on the following days:

Module 1: Feb. 22-24, 2024

Adaptive Change in Complex Systems: Leading with Purpose 

Leading change in complex systems requires the ability to innovate, learn and adapt again. That is, the change leader needs to develop an adaptive action plan not only for the “how,” but also the “what” there is no recipe. This requires not only individual resilience, but also team and organizational resilience, and a keen sense of managing emotions and understanding one’s values. Our model of adaptive change prepares participants to solve complex problems with incomplete information and without a historical solution. This session uses a newly developed team-based, interactive simulation in the context of pandemic planning.

The Resilient Leader

Rotman Logo - Black.jpg

Applications closed

Applications are now closed. Members who meet the above requirements are encouraged to apply to the program next year. Application packages that have been submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 1 will be reviewed and members will be notified at the end of the selection process.

If you have any questions about the program or scholarships contact the OMA.

The increasingly pressured nature of health care is placing intensified demands on physicians and staff, and triggering high levels of exhaustion, disengagement and illness. This means that strategies to replenish energy and increase personal resilience have never been more important. In this session, we will draw from leading research findings and practical examples to examine resilience strategies that have been proven to work. These strategies focus on replenishing energy in four core areas: body, emotions, mind and spirit. Course work on resilience will culminate in the formulation of a personal action plan that will enhance resilience, productivity and leadership skills.

The Psychology of Persuasion and Influence

Effective health-care leaders know that engaging colleagues, staff and other system stakeholders to commit to change rarely involves pronouncements from on high. Rather, it typically involves working first with small groups of the “almost committed” or “weakly opposed” to gain allies and build coalitions. The objective of this session is to develop practical strategies, based in the psychology of teams and decision-making, to influence others. This session will increase participants’ capacity to influence teams, organizations and other system leaders, including using tactics such as coalition building, timing and agenda-setting, persuasion, the framing of issues, educated risk-taking and testing the waters. We will also explore the ethical obligations of being a leader.

Emotional Intelligence: Lifelines

Effective leaders are self-aware. They understand their own emotional responses and the impact their behaviour has on others. We will explore the link between emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness and invite participants to take part in an exercise called “lifelines,” which is designed to enable you to see trends and patterns in your own life and work experience and to use this understanding to reflect on your personal career and life goals.

Module 2: May 8-10, 2024

AI and Analytics: Decision-making, Measurement and Evaluation

This session will discuss the potential impact of artificial intelligence on the health-care sector. The emphasis will be on recent advances in AI and analytics and which aspects of health-care workflow are most likely to be affected. The central insight is that recent advances in AI can be recast as a drop in the cost of prediction. Cheaper prediction will also impact the value of other things, increasing the value of complements — data, professional judgment and action. These complements will inform a discussion of the skills needed for physicians to be effective influencers and implementors of AI in health care.

Negotiating for Results

Health-care leaders negotiate every day — with other physicians, other clinical workers, administrators, governments, research funders and even their friends and romantic partners. Negotiation is the art and science of securing agreements between two or more independent parties. It is a craft that must hold co-operation and competition in creative tension. It is difficult to do well. Even the most experienced (and confident) negotiators often fall prey to common biases, errors in judgment and bad strategies.  During these sessions, participants will practice, analyze, reflect and practise again.

Topics will include:

  • Strategies for distributive and integrative negotiations — and recognizing which is which
  • Decision-making biases in negotiations and how to avoid defeating yourself
  • Effective negotiation planning
  • Ensuring all parties are sufficiently satisfied (i.e., that the relationship remains intact) in order to achieve true engagement

Powerful Conversations and Storytelling 

Few things will be as important to an organization’s long-term success as nurturing its people and facilitating and encouraging their growth and development. Decades of management and leadership research has offered insight into how these tasks can be accomplished through effective coaching. In this session, we acknowledge the workplace includes many interactions that have the potential to create significant anxiety (i.e., addressing a staff member’s performance problems, dealing with the failure of a partner organization to deliver on its promises, managing a superior’s unreasonable expectations, explaining why you cannot follow through on a promise of your own). Meanwhile, human beings are generally conflict-averse. The deep-seated desire to avoid anxiety-producing situations often leads to deep managerial dysfunction: avoiding conversations that should not be avoided and botching conversations that we cannot afford to botch. This interactive session is designed to offer practical tools, approaches and frameworks for effectively handling those powerful, but often challenging conversations and reducing the anxiety that is often associated with disengagement.

Storytelling and Visioning

Stories are not falsehoods. Stories are the root of all effective human communications: they motivate, animate and clarify. If you are not telling stories, you probably are not getting your point across. Participants will be challenged to increase the impact, effectiveness and clarity of how they communicate their most important ideas, for the benefit of their organization and their personal and professional development.

Module 3: Sept. 18-20, 2024

In Search of the Perfect Health System

Based on the best-selling books by Mark Britnell (senior fellow and executive in residence, Sandra Rotman Centre for Health Sector Strategy, and vice-chair KPMG U.K.), the author leads this discussion exploring the successes of the world’s major health systems and the lessons that can be drawn for us in Canada. We also explore the health human resource challenges facing Canada and other health systems, focusing on the implications for physicians and other health professionals for the short and medium term.

Design and Innovation (Part 1)

Design thinking is a methodology that applies the practices of design to deliver a user-driven approach to engagement and innovation. These methods help you develop novel insights about your partners (i.e., physicians, allied health teams and patients), which can lead to new opportunities and breakthrough solutions. In this session, participants will expand their innovation toolkit and learn the core principles of design: 

  • Empathy: Go deep into understanding what your users need and why
  • Ideation and prototyping: Engage the insight and creativity of your team to create new possibilities
  • Experimentation: Test solutions early and often to develop agility to generate new learning and get to better solutions

Planned Change in Complicated Systems

Numerous authors have written about the challenges of leading change, and most of their models are conceptually similar. Too often, however, these models and frameworks fail to take into account the unique challenges of leading change in the highly professional (and fragmented) health-care environment.

We will begin by examining best practices when leading anticipatory or planned changes in complicated systems when we know what to do, but the challenge is how to do it. The role of the leader as “system architect” will be presented, developing an appreciation for how the model for change can be deployed across a range of initiatives in complicated systems.

Emancipatory Leadership: Leveraging Cultural Fluency for Impact

There has been a timely call for greater demonstration of organizational commitment to and capacity for putting a strategic lens on the work of equity, diversity and inclusion. This important imperative constitutes the backbone of a leadership approach that is necessary to raise important questions about how leaders can address societal inequity and, at the same time, seize opportunities for greater organizational inclusion and engagement at all levels. In this highly interactive session, participants will work with five key insights on how leaders can assemble such a leadership approach in their organizations and the broader health system.

Module 4: Nov. 28-30, 2024

Influencing System Change: Working with Government

Understanding the governance elements and priorities of the health system and how they are changing is essential to understanding the leader’s role and sphere of influence in it. This session will highlight key system directions — shift to community care, disease management, strategic alliances, shared governance models — and new funding models to help participants understand how government affects their work and how they can influence funders.

Design and Innovation (Part 2)

Design thinking is a methodology that applies the practices of design to deliver a user-driven approach to engagement and innovation. These methods help you develop novel insights about your partners (i.e., physicians, allied health teams and patients), which can lead to new opportunities and breakthrough solutions. In this session, participants will expand their innovation toolkit and learn the core principles of design:

  • Empathy: Go deep into understanding what your users need and why
  • Ideation and prototyping: Engage the insight and creativity of your team to create on new possibilities
  • Experimentation: Test solutions early and often to develop agility generate new learning and get to better solutions

The Life of the Leader

The pressures within health-care workplaces have been well documented, affecting all roles in the health-care system. Several studies over the years have highlighted high rates of dissatisfaction and burnout among health professionals. The pandemic has magnified staff burnout, workplace stress and dissatisfaction. The link between patient safety and healthy workplaces has also been well documented. Leadership roles within health care have a very high degree of stress and pressure, yet leaders are often looked to as potential role models of work-life balance. Using primarily a panel discussion-type format, this session will focus on the experiences of three senior leaders who have progressed through multiple stages and roles in their careers, found work-life balance in pressure-filled roles, and model a healthy approach to work.

Personal Development and Behaviour 

Behaviour is the most visible part of the self, and the part of which most attempts at change have been focused. Whether we are attempting to change our own behaviour, or encouraging change in someone else, we are likely to meet significant obstacles. In this session, participants will learn the dynamics of will (or self-regulation), what makes it dissipate or build and what are best uses of will in the process of self-change. The scarce economy of self-regulation often results in a physiological state in which the restoration of self-regulatory energy becomes increasingly diminished (known as burnout). We will discuss the most effective tools to distribute self-regulatory energy and prevent burnout.