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Ask Berwick: What one trait is most important for a young leader?

By IHI Open School | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dr. Don Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at IHI and Former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, answers your questions in our new blog series, “Ask Berwick.” Ask him about career tips, his days as a pediatrician, or his thoughts on leadership – all topics are open for discussion.


This week, Berwick discusses what he thinks is the most important trait for a young leader to have. Be sure to check back next week when Dr. Berwick answers a question from David Grayson (submitted via twitter) about accelerating global change for health care quality and safety.



Having trouble viewing this video? Watch it on YouTube.


In his answer, Dr. Berwick discusses the importance of student leaders being curious and asking the right questions. In an article titled "The Science of Quality Improvement" that he wrote for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Berwick emphasizes the role that academic medicine plays, and further traces the importance of curiosity and asking questions through the history of evidence-based care and the quality improvement movement.


"Academic medicine has a major opportunity to support the redesign of health care systems; it ought to bear part of the burden for accelerating the pace, confidence, and pervasiveness of that change. Health care researchers who believe that their main role is to ride the brakes on change—to weigh evidence with impoverished tools, ill-fit for use—are not being as helpful as they need to be. “Where is the randomized trial?” is, for many purposes, the right question, but for many others it is the wrong question, a myopic one. A better one is broader: “What is everyone learning?” Asking the question that way will help clinicians and researchers see further in navigating toward improvement."


You can read the full JAMA article here.


Do you have a question? Join the conversation and "Ask Berwick." Tweet @IHIOpenSchool using #AskBerwick, email openschool@ihi.org, or comment on Facebook. The next question he answers could be yours.

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