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Why Physician Leadership Institute courses are for everyone

“The Physician Leadership Institute (PLI) courses have been extremely helpful to me in my professional and personal lives. They’ve given me confidence and an ability to interact and communicate well with other people, whether they’re patients, colleagues or administrators, or family and friends. I wish I’d had the opportunity to take some of the courses when I was a student.”

Dr. Brendan Lewis
Orthopedic surgeon
Corner Brook, Newfoundland

We’re all leaders

As students, we’re taught medicine extremely well. We learn and develop our medical skills on an ongoing basis. When we leave school, we gain practical experience and continue to develop our medical expertise. What we’re not taught, though, is how to be an effective leader.

By the very nature of the work we do as physicians, we’re all leaders whether we think we are, and like it, or not. Once we graduate from medical school, we instantly become a go-to person for many. Our patients trust us and look to us for guidance. We lead medical teams, influence our colleagues and medical trainees, and guide healthcare executives and professionals. We’re also viewed as leaders in our communities. That’s why it’s important for us to embrace our role as a leader and develop necessary skills to enhance it.

Don’t wing it, learn how to be a more effective physician leader and communicator

Dr. Brendan Lewis

Dr. Brendan Lewis

I took my first PLI course — “Self-awareness and Effective Leadership” — in early 2000. I’d been in practice for more than a decade and was aware that my leadership and communication skills were not innate. I’d been looking for ways to improve myself professionally and personally; I knew I could be a more effective physician with a focus on these skills.

The first PLI courses I took gave me a solid baseline of leadership skills. They helped me to understand myself and my approach to challenging people and situations, and to know why a person might react in a certain way. I learned how to apply those understandings to my daily practice and my interactions with physicians and patients. Before that, I was winging it and not always getting it right.

PLI courses provide me with a solid foundation of leadership skills that enable me to deal constructively with people on a daily basis, have meaningful conversations and be a better communicator. And, not just as a physician. They’ve helped me in my personal life, and in my interactions with my family and friends. Being effective leaders and communicators also makes it easier for us to move into leadership and administrative roles, if that’s what we strive for.

No matter what our goals are or whether we consider ourselves to be in a formal leadership role or not, PLI courses can help us develop our skills and become a more effective communicator and collaborator. The courses provide us with specific practical tools that we can take back into our practice of medicine and our lives, and see the positive effect in how we interact with patients, nurses, physicians and administrators, as well as our family and friends. In fact, the five core PLI courses would provide such great benefits to students and residents that I’d like to see them become mandatory components of medical school training. They are certainly crucial to us becoming effective physicians.

For more information on the CMA’s PLI courses and to register today, please visit