Leadership Skills in the Classroom – Getting the Most Out of Your Medical School Experience

There’s no denying that a good leader can make or break any experience. As you make your way through medical school, the obvious leaders you encounter every day are your professors and instructors. But they aren’t the only ones leading the effort. Developing acute leadership and problem-solving skills in a lab and classroom environment will prepare you for incredible success as the health professional you dream of being. The notion that leadership takes on many different forms and styles is an absolute truth, especially during your college career. White, it’s true one bona fide type is the trumpeting loud and proud “Follow me, I know best” type, there are other equally and sometimes even more valuable methods to lead the masses, in medical school and beyond. As a future healthcare professional, you’ll need to strike a balance between giving an aura of educated confidence and by being a patient, caring listener to those seeking your assistance.


What’s the best way to excel as a leader? Listen. The majority of people who have the urge to jump to the front of the pack do so with a hidden agenda; one that may even be subconscious – they want to enforce their beliefs and methods on others. But if you take the reins with the intention of doing what’s best for the group at large, you’ll be way ahead of the pack, and instantly gain credibility and respect amongst the group you are leading. It’s quite all right to use your instinctive and learned methods for leading a group to, say, a specific lab result, but to find a way to do so by making the entire group feel they have contributed on an equal playing field as you, the leader, is golden. Likewise, as problems arise, resist the urge to be a one-man-band. Remember that your team is your peers, and by admitting what parts of the process may be lost to you, you’ll save heaps of time and embarrassment than by pretending you have all the answers. No one knows everything, nor do we expect our leaders to know everything, and yet, we hold ourselves to unrealistic guidelines. If you don’t know something, ask. The answer is rarely far away.


Another marvelous tactic that will enable you to be the best leader you can be is simply by learning and watching. Think about the people in your life that most inspire you, and take note of their specific traits. Do these people rule with an iron fist, and ignore those they attempt to persuade? Likely not. You’ll more often find that the most inspirational leaders among us are listeners, and humble ones at that. The next time you’re in a classroom situation, asked to work with someone you don’t exactly respect, take a step back and let them lead. You’ll either learn valuable what not to do lessons, or youÂ’ll find that your judgments can often be about your own projections – that is, the person you thought would be a bad leader do to arrogance turned out to be just like you.

At the end of the day, variety, just as in life, is the spice of leadership and problem-solving as well. Don’t ever fall into the same role, time after time, for you will limit your abilities to learn and expand. If you’re the shy and quiet type, most comfortable letting others step up to the spotlight, challenge yourself to break the mold and follow suit, at least once. Likewise, those with an urge to trumpet loud and proud on a regular basis would do well to learn the beauty of active listening, too. Try on different portrayals, different hats, and you’ll not only uncover your preferred method of problem-solving, but you’ll also learn to walk in another’s shoes, as well as mesh with all types of personalities. As a future health care professional, this is an absolutely invaluable trait. Stop, look, listen, and lead