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Integrating crisis leadership in academic medicine
  1. Sharon Chekijian1,
  2. Attila Hertelendy2,3,
  3. Eric McNulty4,
  4. Gregory R Ciottone3,4
  1. 1 Emergency Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  2. 2 Information Systems and Business Analytics, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
  3. 3 Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4 National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sharon Chekijian, Emergency Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA; sharon.chekijian{at}

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Concepts that were once the domain of business, such as communication, negotiation, satisfaction and engagement, have become familiar to physicians. Although the language of leadership has crept into the world of medicine, the skills needed to lead are not always explicitly taught in medical school. In areas like the intensive care unit or the emergency department, crisis is a central part of medical education and practice, the difference is that a smaller group of people and entities is involved. The last few decades have seen increasingly complex crises in the global arena; witness Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the Fukushima triple disaster in Japan, the California wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. The common thread linking all these crises is an overlap with healthcare and medical response. Crises small and large may be omnipresent in everyday medicine, but surprisingly, even traditional leadership training is taught in just over 50% of medical school curricula in the USA.1 The specialised field of crisis leadership (CL) has emerged from disaster management and has rapidly gained critical importance.

CL is not simply leadership in a crisis but a particular set of skills that can be applied to both the emergency at hand, and to the adaptive period that follows. CL is marked by the need to understand and to integrate the insights and concerns of those being led. As medical educators, trainees and students, mastery of these skills can be both personally and organisationally transformative and deserves attention. Importantly, learning skills alone is not enough to hone leadership. Experiential learning is also needed. Crisis itself prepares its leaders but it helps to be attuned to theory and concepts.

Using CL theory, current evidence and the expertise of the authors, this manuscript aims to provide a basis for understanding CL theory for medical educators, trainees and students. …

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  • Contributors SC conceived of the manuscript, wrote the initial draft and prepared the final manuscript based on input of the remaining authors. AH, EM and GRC all contributed to the final manuscript. EM and GRC critically reviewed and revised the manuscript for key content. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.