Putting the Future of Neurosurgery in the Hands of Young CNS Leaders

Brian V. Nahed, MD

On May 19, 14 young neurosurgical leaders gathered in Chicago for the second annual CNS Leadership in Healthcare Course, where they spent two days immersed in discussions about value based health care, as well as applying new leadership skills to their own projects and challenges. Their focus, commitment, and openness to the new concepts presented make it clear that the future of neurosurgical leadership is promising indeed.

The CNS Leadership in Healthcare program began in 2016 to address the growing need for neurosurgeons to understand and lead discussions in health care beyond those learned in residency. In exploring these concepts, the CNS identified a unique opportunity to leverage our expertise in surgical leadership with the tremendous resources Medtronic, our Ambassador level partner, invested in leadership training and coaching resources for its executives and managers. We envisioned a new kind of course that would empower junior attending neurosurgeons with the information and skills needed to shape their own careers and lead their departments, groups, hospitals, and health systems in this time of rapid change.

Working with experts in leadership and health care delivery from the CNS and Medtronic, a two-day pilot course was launched in May 2016, offering a practical overview of the nuts and bolts of health care finance, along with interactive small-group training in critical leadership skills like change management and building influence. Our inaugural class of 13 leadership fellows went on to address major challenges in their home institutions, and several have taken on new leadership roles, leading cross-functional committees and working groups.

I was honored to take over this program in 2017, as the CNS aimed to expand the program’s reach and refine the curriculum. Given the success of the program in its first year, there was a significant interest in, resulting in over 35 outstanding applicants nominated by leaders in neurosurgery. The program is tailored to junior faculty members and, as such, applicants must be within seven years of graduation from residency. Applicants were tasked with proposing a leadership project, which they would focus on implementing during the fellowship year.

Before heading to Chicago, each of this year’s fellows submitted to a “360 evaluation,” in which their colleagues rated them on several key leadership qualities. The results of these evaluations, along with the content presented this May in Chicago, have informed each leadership fellow’s approach to his or her individual project.

Over the past few months, these leadership fellows have been working with their peer mentor groups to address and overcome the obstacles that arise as they pursue their projects. The CNS also offered them a series of exclusive supplemental webinars on topics like professional presentation skills, which will continue through the spring.

This October, during the CNS Annual Meeting in Boston, the fellows will gather to report on the status of their projects, and get feedback from the group on their strategies and challenges. Having already spoken to several of the fellows about their projects, I am excited to hear them share their progress with the group.

The CNS has long been focused on developing the next generation of leaders in neurosurgery, and the Leadership in Healthcare program is proving to be a logical extension of that mission. Through this program, the CNS aims to lay the foundation for future leadership roles locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. While we are only halfway through the cycle with this group of 2017 leadership fellows, it is already becoming clear this has been another successful year and we are already planning to expand the program in 2018.

If you are interested in learning more about this unprecedented opportunity for emerging leaders in our specialty, please be sure to visit cns.org/leaders for information.

WE ENVISIONED A NEW KIND OF COURSE THAT WOULD EMPOWER JUNIOR ATTENDING NEUROSURGEONS WITH THE INFORMATION AND SKILLS NEEDED TO SHAPE THEIR OWN CAREERS AND LEAD THEIR DEPARTMENTS, GROUPS, HOSPITALS, AND HEALTH SYSTEMS IN THIS TIME OF RAPID CHANGE.