The first medical students enrolled in SELECT, an innovative program designed to educate the physician leaders of the future, will arrive on the USF Health campus this week.
In addition to their academic credentials, students were chosen for their high level of emotional intelligence. Candidates were assessed using an in-depth interview process often used in the business world but rarely employed in academic medicine.
The SELECT (Scholarly Excellence. Leadership Experiences. Collaborative Training.) program will give these students unique training in leadership development, intense coaching, and the scholarly tools they need to become empathetic, passionate physician leaders who will be catalysts for change. During their first week on campus, instead of the old-style medical school tradition of heading to the gross anatomy lab, SELECT students will be learning how to coach their classmates and getting matched with their own faculty mentors. They will be immersed in leadership training and grounded in empathy and other core principles of patient-centered care.
"With SELECT, we intend to change the DNA of healthcare, one future physician leader at a time," said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the USF College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health. "We are excited to welcome our inaugural class of outstanding students to USF Health. They're going to help change the healthcare system in America."
Students will spend two years studying at USF Health, followed by two years of clinical training at USF Health's partner in SELECT, the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA, to complete their MD degree.
"Because of health care reform, the future promises to be both exciting and challenging for those who provide care," said Ronald Swinfard, MD, president and CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network. "The SELECT program will teach medical students how to adapt and anticipate what will be a very different health care environment in the future. Instead of fearing the future, our students will be inspired by the endless potential the future holds."
USF Health and Lehigh Valley developed new ways to choose which students whose skills and talents would best fit the SELECT program. This year's inaugural class of SELECT students met all the requirements for admission to the existing USF College of Medicine MD program. But then the selection process took a new step.
USF Health worked with the Teleos Leadership Institute to utilize an in-depth interview process to assess emotional intelligence. Founded by two best-selling authors and scholars from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, Teleos focuses on finding how leaders can improve organizational outcomes through emotionally resonant leadership.
USF Health and Lehigh Valley interviewers received special training in techniques for putting the students through SELECT's specially designed behavioral event interview. Students were asked to recall certain milestone events in their lives in detail to reveal how they responded to and what they learned from each situation.
"This is a way to get underneath people's plug-and-play responses," said Suzanne Rotondo, executive director of the Teleos Leadership Institute. "You get to such depth, such detail, that people can't fake it. For emerging leaders, this is a way to get under the surface and see how someone's mind and heart work."
Interviewers evaluated the prospective students' responses - studying not just the events they described, but how they reacted to those events - to look for key characteristics of emotional intelligence, such as collaboration, adaptability, or emotional self-control.
While SELECT was created by two partners located 1,100 miles apart, leaders at USF Health and LVHN believe that their shared philosophies on the need for transformative health education and physician leadership are more important than geographic distance. Each institution brings distinctive qualities to the partnership. USF Health is known for its patient-centric, innovative medical curriculum; Lehigh Valley is recognized as one of the best community hospital systems in the nation.
"We are truly excited to partner with an outstanding organization with a shared mission for excellence," said Alicia Monroe, MD, vice dean for educational affairs. "Working together, we are going to be able to provide an innovative curriculum and leadership path that gives our students the kind of coaching and development that has rarely been available."
The 19 students in the inaugural class of SELECT include:
•Kanchi Batra, a Northwestern University biology graduate who grew up in Tampa. Batra concentrated in neurobiology and already has worked both as a biology teaching assistant and performing clinical research at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine. Batra also has served as a student advisor and volunteered with senior citizens.
•Kirk Chassey, a former personal trainer in Vail, CO, whose clients' questions about health helped him realize his passion for medicine. Chassey returned home to Pennsylvania to finish a postbaccalaureate pre-med degree. He went on to work as a technical partner at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest Emergency Department, where he learned firsthand about the importance of medical personnel working in teams.
•Yasir Abunamous, a USF psychology graduate, has been working in Washington, DC for the group Muslims Without Borders, supervising the organization's volunteer operations in Haiti. Abunamous has made several relief trips to Haiti himself, most recently as part of a team distributing hygiene kits to earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince.
"Our SELECT medical students will be leaders dedicated to high quality and safe care, participate in interdisciplinary healthcare teams, embrace technology and participate as active members of their communities," Dr. Swinfard said. "This program goes well beyond what is expected in traditional teaching programs."
"We could not be more excited to welcome our first class of students to campus," Dr. Klasko said. "The quality of this group breaks the mold with their leadership, energy and vision. The caliber of this first group of students exceeds even our high expectations, and we know they're going to help lead the revolution that brings overdue changes to America's healthcare system."