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American Association for Physician Leadership
American Association for Physician Leadership

Physicians Convened at the AAPL Fall Institute in Arizona to Enhance Leadership Skills

by AAPL Editorial Team

November 1, 2022


More than 400 physicians attended the American Association for Physician Leadership’s Fall Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, on October 27-30. The Institute included day long courses on specific leadership skill-building, a keynote address, a special session on networking skills, and peer networking.

The Institute kicked off with the morning keynote presenter Susan Dentzer and her description of the many headwinds facing healthcare and the necessary leadership skills it will take to meet them. Many of these are articulated in an upcoming white paper being published by the AAPL, Physician Leadership: More Valuable Than Ever:

  • Shifts from volume-based care delivery to a value-based system of care.

  • Public health-oriented focus on the management of populations toward wellness and resolving the multitude of social determinants of health.

  • New preference for person-centered care, coupled with shared decision-making.

  • Redesign of safe, efficient, high-quality clinical care models in diverse settings.

  • Financial payment models that had begun rewarding healthcare organizations for clinical excellence and coordinated care at reduced cost.

  • Emerging shared risk, capitation, and bundled payment strategies.

Additional headwinds that she articulated include new entrants in the healthcare field such as Amazon and Walmart, downward pressure on payments, demographic changes, inflation, workforce shortages, hospital and health system consolidation, private equity in healthcare, clinician burnout, and anger toward physicians (largely driven by the pandemic).

Another challenge that Dentzer articulated has been a series of public legislative and judicial rulings that have been at odds with many of the goals of the physician and healthcare community.

Dentzer then applied Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People to situations in healthcare:

  1. Be proactive

  2. Begin with the end in mind

  3. Put first things first

  4. Think win-win

  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

  6. Synergize

  7. Sharpen the saw

Coursework throughout the institute involved a range of leadership-oriented topics:

  • Essentials of Health Law, taught by Michael Sacopulos, founder and president of the Medical Risk Institute, and AAPL’s SoundPractice podcast host

  • Fundamentals of Physician Leadership: Quality, led by David Nash, Dr. Raymond C., and Doris N. Grandon professor of health policy, at the Jefferson College of Population Health

  • Managing Physician Performance, led by William Martin, DePaul University, director and associate professor

  • Resolving Conflict, led by Allison Linney, president of Allison Partners

  • Value Based Care, led by Grace Terrell, president and CEO of Cornerstone Health Care and the author of Value-Based Healthcare and Payment Models and Reframing Contemporary Physician Leadership

  • The Emotionally Intelligent Physician Leader, led by Susan Fink Childs, founder of Evolution Healthcare Consulting and author of The Emotionally Intelligent Physician Leader

  • Advanced Behavior Management Strategies, led by Matthew J. Mazurek, MD, MHA, CPE, FACHE, FASA, assistant clinical professor, Yale School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology. Dr. Mazurek is the author of Physicians and Professional Behavior Management Strategies: A Leadership Roadmap and Guide with Case Studies

  • Building and Leading Effective Teams, led by William “Marty” Martin, PSYD, MPH, director and associate professor at DePaul University and the author of Taming Disruptive Behavior

  • Fundamentals of Physician Leadership: Negotiation, led by Amanda Weirup, PhD, MBA, assistant professor of management at Babson College

  • Physician Wellness Academy, addressed clinician burnout and was led by Paul DeChant, MD, MBA, an expert in the advancement of organization well-being

  • Practical Principles of Change Management, led by Larry McEvoy, founder of Epidemic Leadership

  • Fundamentals of Physician Leadership: Communication, led by Tim Keogh, adjunct associate professor, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

  • Science of High Reliability, led by Jeff Norton, chief performance officer and vice president at UC Health. This course examined high reliability, the study of human performance in complex systems.

New to AAPL this year was a session on improving networking skills, and it was exciting to see a room full of accomplished physicians address their fears and misgivings toward a very basic professional skill.

One attendee compared networking to the act of contributing toward one’s retirement savings account: you must do a little bit all along, even though it's uncomfortable, because at the end of the day if you don’t have a full network of contacts – and a healthy savings – there will be a challenging situation to face.

The session leaders taught the attendees several networking strategies:

  • A.S.K.: Always seek knowledge of others

  • Be Courageous: Try something different

  • Be Yourself: Instead of asking “where are you from?” or “what do you do?” ask someone a question about what they do in their personal lives to spark a conversation

The session leaders also reminded people of a key strategy in networking conversation: that most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply. That’s a lesson that can apply to the physician-patient relationship, too.

The Institute included a day-long meeting of the Vanguard Program, which is geared to more experienced clinicians and leaders.

The Vanguard Program is designed to provide high-level programming and networking to match seasoned physician leaders’ sophisticated degree of experience in leadership, education, achievement, and dedication to improving the industry.

Attendees in the Vanguard Program discussed challenges that physician leaders are facing in the wake of several Supreme Court decisions that are tied to healthcare, including the decisions to turn the Roe vs. Wade ruling on abortion back to individual states and those that limit gun control.

The discussion centered on whether physicians might one day face criminal charges for discharging healthcare practices that they had been trained to deliver. A major thrust of the discussion focused on proving whether a doctor would have had criminal intent.

Session leaders from the Aspen Institute taught a course on ethics in physician leadership.

AAPL’s university partners presented on the status and value of these critical relationships that deepen the value of membership in AAPL. AAPL has created master’s degree prerequisite courses—and built partnerships with five prestigious universities across the United States—so that members can earn a graduate degree with minimal disruption to their professional life.

The schools are:

  • Kelley School of Business

  • Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College

  • UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management

  • Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Public Health

  • Arizona State University College of Health Solutions

On the final day of the Institute, Sylvie Stacy, author of 50 Nonclinical Careers for Physicians: Fulfilling, Meaningful, and Lucrative Alternatives to Direct Patient Care , led a session tied to her book’s topic. Stacy offered physicians an escape from that bleak “trap” by identifying numerous nonclinical career options that could align with their skill sets and individual financial situation.

The day also included a course, Women in Leadership, taught by Bergitta Cotroneo, deputy chief executive officer and EVP at the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, based in Northern Virginia.

At the end of the Institute, with additional steps taken in their journey as physician leaders, the attendees may have sipped a glass of wine by the fire pit, listened to the comforting tones of Scottish bagpipes, took in one last look at the Arizona sunsets and headed on another journey: home to start putting the lessons they learned into practice.

Thank you for joining us in Scottsdale. We hope you found your time here valuable and insightful. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago, Illinois, June 9-11, 2023.

The Early Bird pricing is now open for the 2023 Annual Leadership Conference .

For over 45 years.

The American Association for Physician Leadership has helped physicians develop their leadership skills through education, career development, thought leadership and community building.

The American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) changed its name from the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in 2014. We may have changed our name, but we are the same organization that has been serving physician leaders since 1975.


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AAPL providers leadership development programs designed to retain valuable team members and improve patient outcomes.

American Association for Physician Leadership®

formerly known as the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE)