What you'll learn

  • Facilitate transformational change and an organizational turnaround

  • Apply tools and knowledge in quality, safety and informatics to drive sustainable improvement

  • Discuss data management in the context of health informatics

  • Develop strategies to turn ideas into viable, scalable solutions that add value to health care systems

  • Identify surgical mentors to address the technical, cultural, behavioral and educational needs of trainees and foster their development as next-generation clinical and academic leaders

Course description

It used to be that surgeons rose within their organizations almost entirely on their technical skills. However, in today’s more complex health care institutions, leadership, management and business skills matter equally. The Surgical Leadership Program at Harvard Medical School is designed for surgeons seeking to acquire the nontechnical, executive skills needed to step into leadership positions and excel as heads of departments, divisions, projects and institutions. Participants will learn directly from Harvard’s leading faculty across all areas influencing surgical leadership, including communication, mentoring, change management, process and quality improvement, financial management, and surgical research and technique.

This program’s innovative learning model is structured around the needs of practicing surgeons. A comprehensive core curriculum is presented through on-demand, self-paced lectures, live webinars, and three four-day live workshops at your choice of venue. The course culminates with a personalized capstone project, enabling participants to demonstrate creativity, innovation and proficiency in the knowledge and skills taught in the program.

Participants will be eligible for Associate Alumni status upon successful completion of the program. Early tuition and need-based tuition reductions may be available.

Course Outline

Surgical Leadership and Executive Skills

  • Principles of leadership and management
  • Turning around failing organizations and leading transformational change
  • Personal leadership styles
  • Situational awareness
  • Communicating safely and efficiently in multidisciplinary teams
  • Difficult decision-making
  • Surgical crisis management
  • Assessing leadership behavior and outcomes
  • Giving feedback and conducting difficult conversations
  • Negotiation skills
  • Contract management
  • Creating a “just culture”
  • Understanding budgets and finances

The Surgeon as an Entrepreneur and Innovator

  • Innovation theory in health care
  • Business plan writing
  • Raising capital to develop and commercialize your innovations
  • Developing a startup company
  • Transforming ideas into products
  • Updates on new technologies in surgical practice
  • Designing medical apps
  • “Elevator pitch” development and delivery

Legal Principles for Surgical Leaders

  • Iatrogenic harm
  • Contract law
  • Patent law, copyright and intellectual property
  • Litigation and medical defense
  • Responding to complaints
  • Duty of candor
  • How to write an adverse event report

Communications, Motivation and Negotiation

  • Different approaches and when to choose them
  • Negotiation skills
  • Contract management
  • Influence without authority
  • How to initiate and nurture growth-promoting relationships
  • Conducting difficult conversations
  • Effective techniques for reaching favorable and win-win solutions

Building and Promoting Your Personal Brand

  • How to develop and maintain a leadership posture
  • How to build influence within and beyond your organization

Surgical Research and Education

  • Writing research grant applications
  • Funding a new clinical service
  • Developing a modern surgical curriculum
  • Raising sponsorship and endowments for academic purposes
  • Supervising research and academic mentorship
  • Assessment of surgical skills and behaviors
  • E-learning and digital resources for surgeons

Quality, Safety and Improvement

  • State-of-the-art principles for quality and safety in surgery
  • Developing a culture of safety
  • Threat and error models from the aviation industry
  • Human factors in surgery
  • Value-based health care: measuring meaningful outcomes and accurate costs
  • Quality reporting tools
  • Reporting errors and leading root cause analyses
  • Mitigating intraoperative stress
  • The Learning Health System and the role of IT in surgical quality and safety
  • Efficient design and use of clinical databases and registries
  • Choosing and implementing electronic medical records


Clinical Director of Transplant Surgery Physician Lead, Transplant QAPI, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Consultant Vascular Surgeon; Hon Clinical Associate Professor, UCL; Council Member, Royal College of Surgeons of England; Program Co-Director, Harvard Surgical Leadership Program
Director of Innovation in Surgical Education, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Instructor in Surgery, Harvard Medical School

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