To attract medical talent, Sanford Health helps physicians stand out as leaders

Sanford Health is an integrated healthcare system based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and – like many healthcare organizations outside the nation’s largest areas – struggles to hire doctors and other healthcare professionals.

But once doctors and others are “exposed to our culture, to our health care system, to our communities, people stay”, according to Luis Garcia, PhD, president of Sanford Health. “And people stay for the right reasons, which is to provide excellent care for patients in communities that are safe and welcoming, and in practices that are fully supported by a great organization.

Sanford Health demonstrates this support with a new leadership development program called Sanford Rises. Dr. Garcia and Heather Spice, MD, medical director of clinical experience at Sanford Health, spoke about the inner development of leaders during a recent episode of AMA Moving Medicine.


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Sanford Health’s top priorities are patients, people and communities, said Dr Garcia. To ensure the best care for patients, it is necessary to have qualified medical staff who are dedicated to their work – and to their greater health system.

He added that especially in an environment led by clinicians, the people of the health system are its most valuable asset. It is therefore extremely important that you take the time to help these clinicians develop their leadership skills.

Many people in Sanford’s health care system have already conducted independent leadership training, but Dr Garcia said more is needed.

“We decided: As an organization, if we say that our people are our most important asset, we need to invest in our people and we need to be systematic in the way we do it.

That’s how Sanford Rises begins.

The program is made up of a cohort of 25 rising stars of the system who participate in comprehensive leadership and development programs for two years. The program focuses on individual growth, mentoring and the business aspects of medicine.

Participants must be nominated for the program, which ends its first year in the first cohort.

“We want our leaders to be like that [who] have already shown that they take exemplary care of their patients, they are exemplary colleagues, they can be trusted and they really have their priorities [aligned with] how we want to see things in our culture in Sanford, ”said Dr. Spice. “They have already shown that they have good moral and ethical behavior, which we want to make sure is at the heart of everything.

“It’s at the heart of the way we care for our patients. This is the basis of how we treat each other as people, “she added.

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One feature of the original cohort that excites Dr. Spice is that there is no common feature among the participants. Some participants have been practicing for only a few years, while others have worked in healthcare for more than 25 years and are established leaders.

The value of the program, Dr. Spice said, is that participants can focus on their personal development while learning from the experiences of others.

“Having this in this group already – that they can learn from each other along the way – was invaluable,” she said. “There’s nothing better than learning from someone else’s experience and getting this real feedback.”

AMA Moving Medicine highlights innovations and emerging issues that are affecting physicians and public health today. You can watch each episode by subscribing to the AMA YouTube channel or the audio-only podcast version, which also includes educational presentations and in-depth discussions.

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