Academic journal article The Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity

The Role of the Leadership Academy in Cultivating Leadership Development: Perceptions of Prospective Doctor of Pharmacy Students

Academic journal article The Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity

The Role of the Leadership Academy in Cultivating Leadership Development: Perceptions of Prospective Doctor of Pharmacy Students

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

As the role of pharmacists and other health care professionals expands within the health care system, leadership skills become increasingly essential part of professional development. Both the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education have recognized leadership as an important component of pharmacy education (Feller, Doucette, & Witry, 2016). Early exposure to the complexity of leadership provides a foundation from which students can hone their leadership skills throughout their career. This can significantly improve students' confidence in future leadership positions and overall performance (Patterson, Chang, Witry, Garza, & Trewet, 2013). Leadership skills are an important component of well-rounded students and enable them to excel upon entering the workface (Phillips, McLaughlin, Gettig, Fajiculay, & Advincula, 2015). These skills may be fostered through early enrichment programs that have been shown to increase positive attitudes toward interprofessional health care teams (Dumke, VanderWielen, Harris, & FordSmith, 2016). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy implemented the Leadership Academy program for prospective students of the health professions in an effort to meet expectations of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and to optimize training for the next generation of health professionals.

The Leadership Academy was designed by the Office of Innovative Leadership and Diversity to build a diverse cohort of creative, confident, caring, and critically thinking health care professionals by engaging participants with seminars, specialized projects, and networking opportunities. The program was led by an executive team of PharmD candidates that assisted with program design and execution, for the primary purpose of facilitating participants' professional development and exposure to the field of health care. Program leaders were recruited by the Office of Innovative Leadership and Diversity based on their potential to fulfill this role for participants from a wide range of backgrounds. Program participants were invited to apply and selected to attend after demonstrating academic proficiency and leadership potential in an online application. The program consisted of four meeting sessions tailored to engage participants in different areas recognized as essential components of pharmacy leadership: leadership knowledge, personal leadership commitment, and leadership skill development (Janke, Traynor, & Boyle, 2013).

During these sessions, participants attended seminars, academic-enrichment activities, and working lunches where they had time to network and meet potential mentors. Participants received academic enrichment and professional development through individual and group-based interactions with PharmD candidates, pharmacists, and health science leaders with strong leadership qualities. Exposure to a diverse group of influential individuals in their respective fields allowed participants to identify essential leadership qualities that they can further develop throughout the program and beyond. These interactions complemented program activities that identified each individual's leadership strengths, which were enhanced through peer-to-peer communication challenges. The goal of this process was to improve understanding and abilities in leadership within the health science professions by providing information and answering questions related to leadership in health science professions.

As a component of leadership development, the Leadership Academy integrates measures to enhance cultural competence. The program hosts students from a wide range of backgrounds, which is thought to foster an environment of diversity and professionalism (Chisholm 2004). By contributing to diversity in health care professions, the Leadership Academy bolsters high-quality patient experiences related to greater diversity in the workforce (White et al. …

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