Geriatrics and palliative medicine leadership is needed now more than ever: What are the training gaps?

Ayla R. Pelleg, Gabrielle Schiller, Suzanne L. Goldhirsch, Helen M. Fernandez, Elizabeth C. Lindenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Geriatrics and palliative medicine specialists are uniquely trained to provide expert coordinated care for older adults and seriously ill and complex patients. Health system leadership geared towards this patient population is critically important as society ages. Currently, there is no standardized approach to teaching core leadership skills. To assess the leadership training needs of geriatrics and palliative medicine fellowship graduates, we conducted a needs assessment to identify (1) early career leadership trajectories and challenges and (2) knowledge and skills deemed essential for effective leadership. Methods: Individuals identified as leaders in geriatrics and/or palliative medicine completed an electronic survey and a semi-structured qualitative interview. These leaders were divided into two categories: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) trained leaders or non-ISMMS trained leaders. The semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed, and reviewed using thematic analysis. Results: Within 1 year of fellowship graduation, 50% of ISMMS trained leaders had leadership positions; within 6 years, 100% had a leadership role. Based on qualitative interviews, both ISMMS trained leaders and non-ISMMS trained leaders perceived leadership training gaps in two domains: (1) knowledge and (2) skills. Knowledge and skill gap themes included communication and management, mentorship and negotiation, program development, knowledge, and apprenticeship. Conclusion: Geriatrics and palliative medicine physicians obtained leadership roles quickly after fellowship. Both ISMMS trained leaders and non-ISMMS trained leaders often felt unprepared, learned “on the job,” and sought out additional leadership training. Early leadership training is needed to prepare fellowship graduates for the pressing demands of accelerated leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1070
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • geriatrics
  • leadership
  • medical education
  • palliative medicine


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