Samuel Cullison, MD, ABFM, CPE, who created education programs that advanced physician leadership and improved health care, is the 2018 winner of AAPL’s Roger Schenke Award.
BOSTON, Mass. – Around the time Samuel Cullison, MD, ABFM, CPE, arrived at Methodist Health System in Dallas, Texas, in 2013, leaders there already were assessing the value of a physician leadership training program to keep up with a rapidly evolving health care system.
That’s where Cullison came in, taking over as Methodist’s vice president of graduate medical education and implementing a program so successful that the American Association for Physician Leadership presented him with the 2018 Roger Schenke Award on Sunday at the 2018 Physician Leadership Summit.
“I’m very blessed to be recognized for our work,” Cullison told hundreds at a midday luncheon after receiving the award. “I’m deeply appreciative of the American Association for Physician Leadership recognizing us. But what I’m really proud of is what we’ve done. I’m proud of what all of us together have achieved.”
The award honors individuals whose education and training programs improve patient safety and enhance physician leadership.
That's exactly what Cullison has achieved at Methodist, says the health system’s president, Martin L. Koonsman, MD, FACS. “He has exhibited innovation in the creation of education and training programs to advance physician leadership and improve health care at Methodist,” Koonsman says.
Before Cullison’s arrival, most MHS physician leader roles were described as voluntary, honorary, brief in tenure and with few demands — a situation the organization recognized as “increasingly insufficient to meet the needs of Methodist and its physicians.”
“We had no definitive way of educating our medical staff on how to be successful leaders within our organization,” says Pamela J. Stoyanoff, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Methodist. “Although many physicians had leadership positions [in their departments or on the corporate medical board], they didn’t understand what comprehensive leadership entailed. As a result, their contributions were primarily limited to clinical issues.”
This void left both the physicians and the organization ill-prepared to collaboratively address value-based delivery systems, increased quality and safety expectations of delivered care, and the need for greater accountability. To overcome this, Cullison identified AAPL as the best source for leadership training, with its internationally acclaimed, physician-centered programs with rigorous curricula and formal certification.
The first two cohorts produced 48 physician leaders, and a third (currently underway) is expected to add another 38. To date, demand for inclusion in the program has been double the number of available slots. Recruitment for a fourth cohort is planned for this summer.
“Our physician leadership fellowship program here at Methodist Health System has been a phenomenal personal and professional experience for me — perhaps the most impactful of my career,’’ says Cullison, an AAPL member since 2000. “It has been a privilege to contribute to the leadership skills of our already-fine physician leaders at MHS, plus the opportunity to be a part of cultural change here. The chance to get to know these leaders across all of our campuses — since I was new to Methodist when it started — has been priceless.”
The award, which AAPL established in 2014 for its 40th anniversary, honors the association’s founder. Schenke served as CEO from 1975 until his retirement in 2008. During that time, he designed and conducted more than 75 educational programs and developed the Certified Physician Executive credential.