Our department is fortunate to enjoy strong and growing success across our
missions of education, research and patient care. This year, we were ranked first in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding,* our surgeons hold national leadership positions in their specialties’ boards and in surgical associations, our general surgery residency is on the leading edge of trends in surgical education, and we are highly active in clinical trials evaluating innovative new treatments.

In keeping with our national standing, we have made a concerted effort to create a culture of leadership for our faculty and trainees. Faculty members — at all levels — are encouraged to assume leadership roles both internally and within their specialty. We open many avenues to faculty, from providing mentorship and further training to guiding faculty into roles as patient safety leaders or aligning them with other opportunities to reach their individual goals. Residents in their research years present their findings at national meetings and play an active role in training medical students.

Beyond creating leadership opportunities, our department has sought to foster a healthy working environment in which individuals can thrive. A decade ago, we surveyed our faculty to assess our work environment and, based on results, took steps to improve the performance evaluation process, mentoring, and the self-assessment and communication of our administrative leaders. Two surveys later, we continue this process with faculty retreats and prominent outside speakers, such as Jeffrey Leonard, a cardiac anesthesiologist and safety expert who served as Kaiser Permanente’s National Physician Leader in Patient Safety. He spoke on achieving a framework for safety in the operating room, including psychological safety. The imperative of creating faculty leaders is seen in the challenges of 21st century medicine. Our success will be measured by our patients’ outcomes, with no compensation for readmission and redos. We are reliant on our clinicians to support our research and education, essential components of our tripartite mission. Our faculty’s leadership, both internally and nationally, will help make this new model a successful one for patients and institutions.

Timothy Eberlein, MD

William K. Bixby Professor of Surgery
Chair, Department of Surgery Washington University School of Medicine
Director, Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center

*Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research