Flathead physicians chosen for leadership program

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Physicians have long played important roles in hospital leadership, often serving as the link between the board room and clinical realms. But many don’t receive specific leadership training during their medical careers, which is where organizations like the Montana Medical Association come in.

The Helena-based membership organization is currently hosting a seven-session Physician Leadership Effectiveness Program to give medical leaders the skills they need to both manage and communicate with others in both clinical settings or executive roles.

Local physicians Dr. Federico Seifarth, the physician lead for Montana Children’s Specialists at Kalispell Regional Medical Center; Dr. Michelle Spring, program director of Glacier View Plastic Surgery; and J. Douglas Muir, a pediatric psychiatrist at North Valley Behavioral Health were among the 19 doctors selected statewide to participate in the program. Sessions are held throughout the state and began in late September and will conclude in April.

Dr. Doug Nelson, vice president of medical affairs for KRMC, said physicians have always been an important component of health-care leadership and essential in ensuring patients receive quality health care.

“They have made their life’s work taking care of patients and can provide useful input and useful experience,” Nelson said. “Physicians are also pretty well suited to be aware of emerging technologies and medical advances.”

These leadership roles may include sitting on the board of trustees at either KRMC or Whitefish’s North Valley Hospital or leading an individual medical department, among other opportunities.

Nelson said leadership training isn’t a large part of what doctors receive in medical school, so programs like the physician leadership program help bridge the gap.

“Both Dr. Seifarth and Dr. Spring are outstanding young physicians who have demonstrated

talents … developing their leadership skills further puts them in a good position to provide a progressively increasing role in leadership in Kalispell Regional,” Nelson said.

Spring said she hadn’t heard of the program until receiving her nomination earlier this fall, but was impressed with the content presented at the two sessions she’s attended thus far.

Spring said the course has taught her how to lead within her own practice, how to make patient care safer and more efficient along with conflict management strategies that have been effective in her personal life as well. At the first session, Spring said physicians focused on identifying what kind of communicators they were and how best to interact with others based on that finding.

“That’s been very valuable,” she said — not to mention the networking opportunities she’s had with doctors in different specialties all over Montana.

“If a patient has to go to Great Falls, now I know somebody there,” Spring said.

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