Institute for Physician Leadership

Photo of physician leaders at a table discussing Healthforce Center's physician leadership development.


Designing a health care system that better meets societal needs provides a tremendous opportunity for meaningful change. Inspiring and developing physician leaders are key strategies to catalyze these efforts during dynamic times. The UCSF Institute for Physician Leadership (IPL) program provided a vehicle for such an investment. Though this program is no longer active, you can learn about our other leadership training programs.

The program fostered a network of physician leaders that promotes ongoing collaboration and a sense of community across the health care system. Since 2008, more than 170 physicians from 53 different organizations and representing a variety of practice settings and clinical disciplines completed IPL training.

What Makes IPL Unique?

  • Personal. IPL used several psychometric instruments (e.g., 360-degree reviews, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) to emphasize the importance of self-awareness as a tool for lifelong leadership development.
  • Diverse. IPL created exposure to a network of colleagues from different organizations, care delivery models, and practice settings, promoting sharing of ideas and best practices.
  • Customized. IPL translated key leadership concepts into familiar frameworks for physicians. All topics, case studies, and role playing were designed to foster immediate application.
  • Practical. IPL combined four in-person seminars with significant distance learning to minimize time away from one’s practice setting.
  • Reputable. IPL leveraged UCSF’s internationally recognized health science institution and drew on the expertise of Healthforce Center, which has decades of experience in leadership development programs.


The IPL program consistently demonstrated its value to participants and their organizations. One hundred percent of alumni said they are more effective leaders as a result of the program and all said they would recommend it to a peer. See a report of quantitative improvement data that participants reported in specific competencies.

Below are a few participant testimonials:

“IPL was a transformative experience. It opened my horizons in both personal and professional development. I am thankful for the tools, instruction, and personal connections that will keep me going long after graduation.”  – Eva Balint, MD, Brown and Toland

“The IPL leadership course opens your eyes to skills that are developed and practiced on a daily basis in other industries but are lacking in medicine. At this time when health care needs internal leadership to guide the direction for the future, practicing health professionals need to develop and use these skills. Thanks, IPL, for a course that will help me for the rest of my career.”  – Anthony Luke, MD, MPH, UCSF  

“IPL was one of the most positive educational programs of my career. It has made me feel I can take on a role within an organization to effect large-scale change, rather than one patient at a time. I have become involved in multiple projects, partly because I am more capable of leading and developing ideas, and partly because I am more confident taking on these responsibilities. Also, a great networking experience getting to know a group of interesting, diverse physicians who I believe can be great resources in the future.”  – Jack Dobkin, MD, CareMore

“My organization has now given me lead positions at new offices and is confident that I will bring back the learnings from this course and implement them to improve team spirit.”  – Madhuri Desai, MD, HealthCare Partners Medical Group

“I created a CKD/ARF program which will hopefully be implemented region wide. The program helped me align with the vision of my organization and senior leadership.”  – Mohit Shahani, MD, Kaiser Permanente  


Program Elements

The IPL program consisted of the following elements:

  • In-Person Seminars: Four dynamic core seminars taught by nationally recognized teachers and facilitators. The seminars focused on small-group learning, role playing, case studies, and other exercises that allowed for immediate application of new skills and tools into daily leadership behaviors.
  • Executive Coaching: Participants received professional development coaching with a certified executive coach. Discussion of personal assessments and self-identified goals provided a customized experience for individual growth and development.
  • Leadership Project: Participants completed an organizationally aligned improvement initiative that allowed for a systematic approach to project development, implementation, and evaluation. The mentored project served as a vehicle to apply new skills, tools, and leadership behaviors.
  • Small Group Distance Learning: Participants were organized into small groups (“pods”) to promote peer learning and mentoring, to build a smaller networking community within the cohort, and to collaborate on intersession activities. Each pod was assigned a pod advisor, an experienced physician who facilitated a teaching and learning environment, provided mentorship for projects, and served as an additional development resource.
  • Intersession Activities: Between the core seminars, participants were assigned selected readings, practical applications of seminar topics, and the use of a Leadership Lab Book to solidify important lessons learned. Designated activities were done independently, while others were done virtually via pod meetings.

Successful completion of the program awarded up to 82 CME credits.

Program Curriculum

The IPL program used a multifaceted approach to deliver the curriculum, including knowledge acquisition (didactics, readings), experiential simulation (role plays, case studies, simulations), application (improvement initiative), and reflection and feedback (smaller learning group, executive coaching).

The IPL curriculum topics included:

  • Self-awareness and change
  • Vision and the environment
  • Developing and managing a team
  • Strategy and stakeholders
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Managing change
  • Decision making
  • Power, influence, and political savvy
  • Communicating up, down, and sideways
  • Negotiations and business planning
  • Sustaining, embedding, and moving forward
  • Developing organizational strategies and goals
  • Executive communication
  • Balancing personal and professional life

See the IPL program curriculum at a glance.

About IPL

The Institute for Physician Leadership is an expired program of Healthforce Center at UCSF. For more of our leadership training programs, please visit here.

IPL Funders

Alameda Health System

Allergy and Asthma Medical Group of the Bay Area

AltaMed Health Services Corporation

Anthem Blue Cross

AppleCare Medical Group

Brown and Toland, IPA

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Cambridge Health Alliance

CareMore Health Plan

Children’s Hospital and Research Center at Oakland

Community Health Clinic Ole

Community Regional Medical Centers

Dominican Hospital

East Valley Community Health Center

The Everett Clinic and Providence Regional Medical Center

Facey Medical Group

Fidelis Senior Care

Healthcare Partners Medical Group

Health Net

Highland Hospital

Hill Physicians Medical Group

Kaiser Permanente

Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center

Loma Linda University Family Medical Group Loma

Maxine Hall Health Center

Medstar Washington Hospital Center

Monterey Peninsula Radiological Medical Group

Moreno Valley Women’s and Family Clinic

Northbay Medical Center

Palo Alto Medical Foundation Group

The Permanente Medical Group, Inc.

Physicians Medical Group of Santa Cruz County

Primecare of Inland Valley IPA

Redwoods Rural Health Center

Sacred Heart Medical Center

San Francisco Department of Public Health

San Francisco VA Medical Center

San Joaquin General Hospital

San Mateo Medical Center

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

Sequoia Hospital

St. Agnes Medical Center

St. John’s Well Child and Family Center

St. Jude Heritage Medical Group

St. Mary’s Medical Center

Share Our Selves Community Health Center

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, San Francisco

University of Colorado

Urology Center of Southern California

Vails Family Practice

Wilshire Oncology Medical Group

Featured Testimonial

The Institute for Physician Leadership was a remarkable opportunity to engage with emerging leaders of different organizations. The faculty and speakers were thoughtful and inspirational. It has dramatically improved my leadership abilities and confidence.
Jeffrey Davis, MD
Kaiser Permanente
Institute for Physician Leadership Alumni
View All Testimonials »