Philanthropy is nothing new in the family of Major General Elder Granger, MD, FACP, FACHE, CPE, FACPE, MG, who recently sponsored 55 med students for one-year memberships with the American Association for Physician Leadership.
Interestingly, however, a scheduling conflict nearly precluded him from building on the family’s legacy of generosity with those 55 sponsorships. The Chicago School of Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University was preparing to host a leadership institute when the dean, James Record, MD, approached Granger about being a keynote speaker.
“Elder,” said Record, “I can’t think of a better person, with your background and all the things you’ve done, to talk to these students about leadership.”
After a distinguished military career that began in the Army National Guard during his junior year in high school and culminated with the rank of major general in the U.S. Army, Granger indeed has impressive leadership credentials.
Granger was honored by the invitation to speak at the Student National Medical Association leadership institute – where the theme was “Past, Present and Future: The Changing Roles of Physician Leadership” – but the August 31 date conflicted with the 50th anniversary celebration of a scholarship program initiating in 1969 by two of his aunts and the Maconites organization to help children from Macon, Mississippi.
With more than 500 people from around the country gathering for the event, Granger couldn’t miss it. But he had a solution: If Record could arrange for him to be the first speaker that Saturday morning, he’d have time to catch an afternoon flight to St. Louis for the celebration. Record agree but asked for one more favor: “I also want you to introduce the medical students to AAPL.”
This time it was Granger who agreed.
Granger was first introduced to AAPL (then the American College of Physician Executives) in 1992 by Major General James Peake, who had already formed a partnership with the association. Upon completion of his first course, Granger surmised that “what ACPE offers is what every physician who wants to do leadership needs to know: Learn from the good and unpleasant habits of others and try to formulate your own good leadership habits and style.”
“I started taking as many ACPE leadership courses as possible because clinically I knew my craft and was particularly good at it, but I wanted to develop my leadership skills,” says Granger, who became a member the following year.
Now he wanted others to benefit from that same experience and develop their own leadership skills.
“If you say you want to be a physician leader,” he told the students, “then even at your level, you must start getting engaged and understanding as you go through your medical school, your internship, your residency or your fellowship that whatever you’re going to do in your professional development, you must start with some basic understanding of what is required to become a physician leader.”
Then he offered to pay first-year AAPL memberships at $50 a head and asked how many were interested. “Wow!” they cheered as nearly hand in the room shot up. “Total enthusiasm,” Granger recalls, then adding: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
Now Granger is encouraging other senior AAPL members to follow his lead.
“Some of us as physicians and physician leaders have worked extremely hard and achieved much in life,” he says. “We have been truly fortunate, both professionally and financially, and we sometimes say, ‘How can I help improve the membership of AAPL, especially the next generation?’”
- Sponsoring AAPL memberships for med students from your alma mater
- Sponsoring AAPL student members to attend a regional or national meeting
- Establish an AAPL student leadership program for a certain number of students at your alma mater
- Arrange with AAPL to donate maybe $50 or $100 toward association memberships for students when paying your own membership dues – or even “exceed what Elder did at the SNMA leadership conference.”
“I want my physician-leader colleagues and friends to understand that we can do a lot to coach, mentor, train, support financially and develop the next generation of leaders,” Granger says. “We must have a pipeline of physician leaders at all levels in healthcare, including at medical or osteopathic schools. If not, we will look behind us, have no one following us, and our legacy die with us. One of my philosophies of leadership is ‘lead by example or follow with enthusiasm.’ I want to lead by example, but I want other AAPL members to voluntarily lead and follow me and the entire leadership at AAPL with enthusiasm for our future and legacy.”