SELECTed as future physician leaders
Kyle Ingram played trombone in his high school band.
Jennifer Chevinsky knows nothing about the movie Star Wars.
Sasha Yahkind is allergic to seafood.
By the end of their first day as the inaugural class of USF’s SELECT MD program, the group of 19 confessed more personal facts as well. One student spoke about how he admires his mother’s courage in the face of illness. Another, how she made her way to medical school after a rocky home life.
“Emotions spread – that’s how we are wired,” one of their orientation leaders told them. “You have a responsibility, as you walk through the world, to be mindful of what you are triggering in other people.”
It’s not the typical start to medical school. No gross anatomy lab, no sudden immersion in science. No tests – although those are certainly ahead.
But this isn’t a typical medical school program. SELECT (Scholarly Excellence. Leadership Experiences. Collaborative Training.) is designed to train future physician leaders. Its students gained admittance by going through a rigorous behavioral interview process to assess their levels of emotional intelligence. The process looks for such characteristics as collaboration, adaptability and emotional self-control.
“It’s a different approach – Shaping yourself before you can shape the healthcare field,” Chevinsky said as she went through her first day as a SELECT student, sharing her experiences with her fellow students, practicing listening skills and learning more about what makes a leader.
That difference is deliberate, said Dr. Alicia Monroe, vice dean of educational affairs and a key creator of the SELECT program.
“What’s different about this week is that it’s an immersion in the concepts related to emotional intelligence and the ways in which emotional intelligence supports effective leadership,” she said. “It teaches students the basic science of leadership competencies.”
USF Health has established SELECT in partnership with Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa. Students will spend their first two years of medical school at USF and then go to Lehigh Valley for two years of clinical training.
Both the leadership focus and the program’s ties to Lehigh Valley appealed to Kyle Correll, 22, who grew up there and hopes to eventually open his own family practice back home.
“This program is a place where you can go above and beyond,” Correll said.
Fellow student Norman McKoy, 23, chose SELECT because he believes it will help produce change.
“It promotes everything the healthcare system needs,” he said.
Leaders from the Teleos Leadership Institute, founded by two best-selling authors and scholars from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, are on hand this week to guide the students through their week of exploring leadership qualities and emotional intelligence.
“What we tell leaders is that your whisper is a yell,” Suzanne Rotondo, Teleos’ executive director, told students as they discussed leadership.
Teleos also worked with USF Health and LVHN to develop SELECT’s own behavioral interview. While the process is often used in business, it’s rarely done in medicine – and even more rarely in medical education.
So what qualities of emotional intelligence do Correll and McKoy bring to SELECT? Put on the spot, they talked about the value of diligence and building connections.
“I’m very hard-working and determined to improve the healthcare system,” Correll said.
”I’ve been in different extreme environments,” said McCoy, who is from Jamaica and went on to a Washington preparatory school and then Howard University. “So I feel I’m able to adapt and to see commonalities between different groups of people.”
They’ll need to bring all their strengths to SELECT, which will add its leadership training curriculum to all the medical and science training of a more traditional program.
“When you feel like you’re being asked to do more, you’re absolutely right,” Dr. Monroe told them. “You are.”
But some of these students are already looking to do just that.
“I think SELECT deals a lot with where people see the healthcare system going,” said Kanchi Batra. “I think the change is going to be good, and I would like to be part of that change…I would like to become one of those players in the future who helps the country, and the healthcare system, and the community, and that one specific patient.”
– Story by Lisa Greene, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications