New Medical Schools Require Visionaries and Risk-Takers as Leaders

By Jeffrey Schroetlin

An increasing number of health systems are partnering with or launching their own medical schools. They are doing so to keep up with a demand for physicians brought about by the retirement of baby boomer doctors as well as increasing populations and greater need for healthcare in general. Healthcare systems see their own medical schools as an opportunity to address this need for physicians at a local level and even to build their own prestige and reputations nationally and internationally.

For these new schools, leadership challenges are numerous, and require the ability to build momentum and manage an entirely new, interdependent enterprise. Leadership for new medical schools was the topic of an interview that I recently conducted with The EvoLLLution (a website devoted to education and life-long learning), titled The Medical Education Landscape is Changing and Leaders Must Change with It.

Photo of Jeffrey Schroetlin

Jeffrey Schroetlin

Creating a medical school is complex and expensive. A school has to navigate accreditation, develop curricula, hire experienced faculty, and much more even before the first students enroll.

The key figure is the inaugural dean, who must be able to “build a very strong team, keep everyone rowing in the same direction, and establish partnerships across a broad set of constituents.” The dean must be a “salesperson and visionary to convince others to give their time, money, expertise, and resources for returns that could be years in the future.”

Leaders for these positions must be comfortable with great risk and uncertainty. They could be creating a world-renowned institution, or one that never opens its doors.

Jeffrey Schroetlin is a consultant in Witt/Kieffer’s Academic Medicine and Health Sciences practice.

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