Lukas Radbruch, Chair of Palliative Medicine, University of Bonn, Germany, and Carl Johan Fürst, Professor of Palliative Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, describe their experiences on the Leadership Development Initiative at San Diego Hospice.
I (Lukas) arrived late at night at San Diego Airport, feeling tired after 18 hours of travel time. But the next morning we are in the Pacific Ocean, together with John, and Holly Yang who is not only a physician at San Diego Hospice and a coach in the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), but also an excellent surfboard teacher. We are surfing the waves at the crack of dawn, and though we are not really succeeding, we are certainly having a lot of fun. We learned that the best surfer is the one who has the most fun – so we certainly seem to be experts of some kind.
It is also good that this was fun, because it seems to be the last bit of leisure time in a fully packed schedule for this second course week of the LDI, an intensive programme that develops palliative medicine physicians’ leadership skills. Frank Ferris and Shannon Moore, who run the course at San Diego Hospice, are keeping us on our toes and busy, learning about facilitation and negotiation skills, change management, team building, learning styles and how to use them, conflict management and other skills and knowledge needed to improve the leadership competencies of the participants. We are involved as mentors, but still learning so much ourselves.
We are learning not only from the teachers, but also from the participants. We have just had the presentations from all the participating leaders from around the world, and it is so astonishing to see what they have accomplished in the few months since the course started in February 2012. We hear about new services planned or implemented, curricula and educational programmes, scientific publications and palliative care strategies, and wonderful examples of collaboration, networking and advocacy work.
LDI participants from Europe in this course are Ali Xhixha (Albania), Dilsen Colak (Turkey), Narine Movsisyan (Armenia), Silviu-Marius Corbu (Romania) and Snezana Bosnjak (Serbia). And four of the 12 mentors are from Europe as well: Bart van den Eynden (Belgium), John Ellershaw (UK) and ourselves.
The European participants present their work which is really impressive. They are working in challenging settings, with little support from their colleagues or other stakeholders, but they are managing to care for their patients, expand services, inspire others to take up palliative care and to get local, regional and national support for the development of palliative care, sometimes up to the level of the Ministry of Health.
Listening to their stories, it seemed to us like a wave of success, and these new leaders of palliative care are surfing on this wave and guiding it on. It feels good to be a part of this group, and to know these pioneers. We are excited to look ahead and can hardly wait to see what will be accomplished in the next year of the LDI course!
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