Leadership Training in Graduate Medical Education: A Systematic Review.

Journal Article (Systematic Review;Review;Journal Article)


Leadership is a critical component of physician competence, yet the best approaches for developing leadership skills for physicians in training remain undefined.


We systematically reviewed the literature on existing leadership curricula in graduate medical education (GME) to inform leadership program development.


Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, we searched MEDLINE, ERIC, EMBASE, and MedEdPORTAL through October 2015 using search terms to capture GME leadership curricula. Abstracts were reviewed for relevance, and included studies were retrieved for full-text analysis. Article quality was assessed using the Best Evidence in Medical Education (BEME) index.


A total of 3413 articles met the search criteria, and 52 were included in the analysis. Article quality was low, with 21% (11 of 52) having a BEME score of 4 or 5. Primary care specialties were the most represented (58%, 30 of 52). The majority of programs were open to all residents (81%, 42 of 52). Projects and use of mentors or coaches were components of 46% and 48% of curricula, respectively. Only 40% (21 of 52) were longitudinal throughout training. The most frequent pedagogic methods were lectures, small group activities, and cases. Common topics included teamwork, leadership models, and change management. Evaluation focused on learner satisfaction and self-assessed knowledge. Longitudinal programs were more likely to be successful.


GME leadership curricula are heterogeneous and limited in effectiveness. Small group teaching, project-based learning, mentoring, and coaching were more frequently used in higher-quality studies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sadowski, B; Cantrell, S; Barelski, A; O'Malley, PG; Hartzell, JD

Published Date

  • April 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 134 - 148

PubMed ID

  • 29686751

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5901791

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1949-8357

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1949-8349

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4300/jgme-d-17-00194.1


  • eng