• Vol. 35 No. 9, 609–614
  • 15 September 2006

Leadership and Professionalism Curriculum in the Gross Anatomy Course



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Introduction: Today’s physicians must demonstrate both professionalism and leadership skills in order to succeed in largely team-based healthcare environments. The purpose of this study was to determine if professionalism attributes, leadership style, and leadership style adaptability are associated with academic performance among first-year students early in their medical curriculum.

Materials and Methods: Students were divided into 4-member dissection groups for the duration of the Gross and Developmental Anatomy course. Leadership responsibility was randomly assigned to a team member on a rotating basis every 5 weeks. After each 5-week block, student performance was measured by written and practical examinations, and each student assessed their leader’s or their own professionalism attributes and leadership style using validated survey instruments.

Results: Most students demonstrated either a “selling” only (57%) or “participating” only (30%) leadership style with low to moderate leadership adaptability. “Participating” and “delegating” leadership styles have the highest average group written exam scores (89.4%, P <0.008). “Telling” only or “selling” only leaders have the lowest average group exam scores (83.5%, P <0.001). “Selling” and “participating” leaders have significantly lower average group practical exam scores than other styles (81.5%, P <0.007). Positive associations were observed between the written and practical examination scores and the leader’s integrity (P = 0.003, P = 0.002) and responsibility (P <0.001 , P = 0.037).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that various situational leadership styles and aspects of professionalism are associated with written and practical examination scores in the Gross and Developmental Anatomy course. Furthermore, it demonstrates that first-year medical students are in need of leadership skill development.

Healthcare delivery systems worldwide are currently undergoing significant changes to create resilient learning organisations that are able to adapt with ever-increasing speed to shifting business, regulatory, and competitive environments. The delivery of healthcare is no longer a single-provider responsibility; modern group practice organisations require a physician to be not only a member of a team, but also a leader, often of several teams that must work together.

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