Insider View: One Physician’s Experiences with PAMED’s Year-Round Leadership Academy

Last Updated: Jun 16, 2016

Note: Guest blogger Kristin Ondecko Ligda, MD, is an anesthesiologist at UPMC-Mercy in Pittsburgh. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) and a Board member and Chair of the Physician Resources Committee for the Pennsylvania Society of Anesthesiologists (PSA). Dr. Ondecko Ligda is one of several Early-Career Physician Scholarship recipients participating in PAMED's 2015-2016 Year-Round Leadership Academy.

Dr-Kristin-OndeckoThe PAMED Year-Round Leadership Academy (YRA) is a year-round program for physicians who desire comprehensive leadership training, opportunities, and experiences in a diverse array of online and interactive courses. In addition to the leadership training, networking with other physician leaders from across the Commonwealth creates opportunities to discuss practice challenges amongst the different specialties and to better understand and attempt to resolve challenges within their practice settings and institutions.

The 2015-2016 YRA started in September 2015 and includes eight online courses and three day-long live sessions held at PAMED. Facilitators for the program are faculty members with the American Association for Physician Leadership, with online discussions guided by PAMED staff.

The topic for our first session in September was Physician in Management: Communication. Prior to our online session, we each took a DiSC assessment—a tool that allowed us to evaluate our personal communication and teamwork styles. By understanding our own DiSC profile, we were able to have a common basis for discovering how each profile responds to problems, motivations, stresses, and response to conflict and stress.

We learned how to optimize interaction with each profile group as each style has their own set of dispositions and priorities. By recognizing our own profile characteristics, we may work to identify, respond, and strive to improve our interactions and behaviors with others.

In October 2015, our group met for our first live session, where our topic focused on conflict resolution with Transforming Conflict, Restoring Productivity. We started the day with introductions from all of the members of this year's YRA, since this was our initial face-to-face encounter with our group.

We completed a conflict mode instrument that evaluated our behavior in conflict situations and provided us with information on our conflict-handling styles and responses. With this information, we were empowered to understand the differences between the styles and how each style interacts with each other, to develop a foundation for improved listening, and to practice skills for carrying out difficult conversations.

We also focused on our ability to give meaningful feedback and learned skills for improvement in the quality of feedback that physician leaders often must give. Our last focus of the day was how to improve our management of stress and conflict utilizing our experiences from this and the previous session.

Establishing the foundations of communication and conflict resolution allowed a smooth transition into our next topic of meta-leadership, which focuses on building cross connectivity between differing personnel within a department, specialty, or other organizational group. With our meta-leadership module, we learned to connect the work of many people with differing areas of expertise and differing sets of resources. Understanding how to create a multi-dimensional solution to a program through the skills of meta-leadership provides a basis for the delivery of quality patient care in a health care system and functions as a key component of leadership development.

Additional topics for me and my classmates include effective physician leadership; finance; quality; negotiation; strategic thinking, decision making, and planning; and building and leading effective teams.

The 2016-2017 YRA begins in September 2017, and scholarship opportunities are being offered through July 15, 2016, for early career physicians, as well as office-based and hospital-based physicians. This year's program provides the opportunity to earn up to 60.5 CME credits and credits toward the Certified Physician Executive (CPE) certification. Information on PAMED's YRA can be found online at


A version of this article was originally published in the PSA's Sentinel newsletter and is reprinted with PSA's permission.

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