Department Leadership Retreat: Fostering Unity and Innovation

Leadership development and strategic alignment are crucial in the ever-evolving field of healthcare and medical education. On Saturday, December 2, 2023, the Department of Anesthesiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSM) took a significant step toward enhancing leadership skills and aligning strategic priorities through a dynamic retreat.

The objectives of this retreat were threefold:          

  1. Cultivating Unity: the primary aim was to foster a sense of connection and cohesion among the department’s leadership team, building a strong culture of unity.
  2. Enhancing Leadership Skills: leaders worked collaboratively to develop and refine their leadership skills, ensuring they are well-prepared to support and advance the department’s mission.
  3. Staying Informed: keeping the leadership team well-informed about the latest news and updates within the department is essential for more effective decision-making.
Retreat panel discussion with participants.
Left to right: Eva Aagaard, MD, Dineo Khabele, MD, and Anne Drewry, MD, share insights during a panel discussion.

The retreat brought together department leaders, with opening remarks delivered by Michael S. Avidan, MBBCh, the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology and head of the Department of Anesthesiology. Other notable presenters included Eva Aagaard, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Education and Professor of Medicine at WUSM, Dineo Khabele, MD, chair for the Department of Ob/Gyn, and Anne Drewry, MD, vice-chair and chief of critical care medicine. Topics included foundational leadership skills, effective communication, conflict resolution, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Throughout the retreat, participants engaged in small group discussions, addressing realistic situations ranging from patient care coordination to team-building strategies. These discussions yielded practical solutions that were later shared and discussed during a debriefing session. The retreat concluded with a summary of the day’s insights.

Corrin Noel, who was recently announced as one of the incoming executive directors, shared, “The retreat was a valuable opportunity for our department’s leadership to come together, learn, and strategize. It not only strengthened our leadership skills but also emphasized the importance of a unified culture within our department.”