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Chief Resident Leadership Curriculum: Leadership Basics- Prior to the Chief Resident Year

Prior to Your Year

During this time period, you may be looking forward to your chief year but may also have some trepidation about the duties and challenges that accompany your new role. For many chiefs, this new role will be the first time that you have held a formal leadership position within the institution or in your careers. Topics for discussion during this time period therefore focus on anticipating common challenges that you will soon face, providing basic skills to overcome these challenges and facilitating the transition into your new role.


1.    Introduce chiefs to their new roles and responsibilities.

2.    Define and discuss the concept of impostor syndrome and how it relates to transitioning into new roles.

3.    Discuss strategies for efficiency and prioritization.

4.    Identify individual strengths through a self-survey.

5.    Discuss how individual strengths are essential to a team and how these strengths can be applied to daily duties and responsibilities.

6.    Identify a process for setting appropriate goals and utilize this process to create personal and team goals.


Impostor phenomenon is a commonly reported and experienced phenomenon that affects high-functioning, high-achieving individuals, particularly in medicine and healthcare. The term is used to describe a situation in which a person is unable to internalize their accomplishments or recognize their true competency. Like most people who begin a new role, you may experience concerns about your own readiness or capability in your new position. A familiarity with the impostor syndrome may help ease the tension that you may experience while beginning your new job. It may also allow you to better assist interns and residents struggling with similar tensions in their new roles, especially at the start of a demanding academic year. 

Managing Multiple Responsibilities

Prioritization, multi-tasking, and time management skills are important leadership skills needed for a successful chief resident experience. A basic proficiency in these skills before the start of the year can really help your transition into your new role. While most chiefs will have had some experience doing this in residency, the kinds of tasks and the amount of tasks can be very different during your chief year. Anecdotes and pearls from outgoing chiefs and program leaders will be part of the focus for this session. Additionally, the reference below is provided to help manage multiple tasks and responsibilities.

Teamwork & Collaboration

It is possible that you may not have worked closely with your new co-chief(s) during residency and may have never met chiefs from other departments. A common worry around this time of the year is that your leadership style and strengths are different than their predecessors or your co-chiefs. Strengths Based Leadership is a book and self-survey that can help you to understand your own strengths and utilize them to your advantage. We have used this book yearly; during our discussion, we map all of the strengths that each member of our group possesses onto a “strengths grid” in order to illustrate that the group is both complex and competent but also that the group’s success depends on the combined strengths of all its individuals.

Goal Setting

Setting goals before the year begins will help you to consider your personal set of goals that you'd like to improve upon over the year. Goals may be administrative, educational, academic and / or personal. Goals can be formulated by using the “SMART” technique and sharing / discussing them with the group. The group may choose to revisit these goals at subsequent meetings as the year progresses.

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