Ignite Magazine | Spring 2021

Page 25

Since 2003, Costas H. Kefalas, M.D. (’97), M.M.M., FACG, FASGE, AGAF, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, has practiced general gastroenterology at Akron Digestive Disease Consultants in Akron, Ohio, where he is the medical director of the Digestive Health Center. He also serves on the medical staff at Summa Health in Akron. Dr. Kefalas is the new president and chair of the board of directors of the GI Quality Improvement Consortium, Inc. (GIQuIC) — an educational and scientific joint initiative of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). As he assumed this national appointment, he reflected on the value of taking leadership roles.

ness degree, a Master of Medical Management, at Carnegie Mellon, where the program's focus was on the core competencies of effective leadership, strategy and management skills. There are numerous business programs, including executive education programs, at other highly regarded universities across the country, and I encourage students to consider all of these options and to choose the program best for them. What advice would you give to help medicine or pharmacy students (or student researchers) prepare for leadership roles? First and foremost, review the mission and vision of the organization that you are considering serving. Do these reflect your personal and/or professional values and goals? If so, then get involved, early. The more experience you obtain in serving, the better. Volunteer for roles and positions in organizations that may not be desired; you can learn a lot about an organization and its members from these positions. Do well and give it your all, no matter in what role or position you serve. Your successful service at any given position will often open doors to you for additional positions within that organization. And of course, as the saying goes, “show up.” Successful service is dependent on being "present," both physically (or virtually, during these times) and mentally. At some point in your service, consider formal leadership education or training, especially if you have identified personal deficiencies in certain skills. The opportunities for education are vast, from weekend or weeklong courses, in person or online, to formal degree programs. The decision largely depends on your leadership educational goals.


What interested you in the leadership/business/administrative side of medicine, and how did additional training prepare you? Over the years, I found that I was increasingly involved in leadership roles as these opportunities arose, not only at my practice and endoscopy center, but also within regional, state and national professional societies. Although over time I accumulated experience with this service, I also noted my deficiencies. The main reason I pursued a graduate degree mid-career was to formalize these experiences and practical knowledge that I had learned during my service, as well as to learn the key skills that I was lacking — namely, a broad understanding of business and finance. Business skills are not generally taught to medical students, residents, and fellows, but to successfully practice medicine in the 21st century, particularly in private practice and in academics, a baseline business education is generally of benefit. I was fortunate to complete my formal leadership training through the American Association for Physician Leaders (AAPL), a professional society that has partnered with multiple universities, including Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. This partnership allows students to complete prerequisite courses through APPL prior to entering business programs at the affiliated universities. I completed my busi-

Web extra: View videos of health care thought leaders speaking on VITALS — NEOMED’s Visionary Health Leadership in Action speaker series — at neomed.edu/vitals.