Emergency Physician Finds Career Calling In Coaching, Motivating

Physician leadership is a priority for ACEP President Aisha Terry, MD, MPH, FACEP. She’s approaching the issue from all sides. As she builds a programmatic approach within ACEP to identify and cultivate leaders, she is strengthening the “pipeline” and creating opportunities for newer physicians to thrive.

The Leadership Spotlight highlights examples of emergency physicians using their foundation in emergency medicine to lead, teach, and inspire the next generation. Whether inside the hospital or beyond, the foundation laid by deep experience in the specialty is versatile, unique, and invaluable.

Dr. Terry: How has emergency medicine prepared you for coaching and leading?

Dr. Barth: As the new executive director of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) medical honor society, I lean on my background in emergency medicine to teach and mentor the next generation of physician leaders. As emergency physicians, we can do a lot and we do it well.

I’m a coach at heart and I am grateful for the opportunity to help physicians achieve their goals through the AOA leadership fellowship—a one-year program where physicians learn to hone their skills to lead from within and expand their servant leadership. The program focuses on mid-career physicians and current chairs who want to help solve the biggest challenges facing emergency medicine and the health care system.

Our students are doing so much more than lab work. They are working in the community and making a difference.

Coaching can be a vital resource for students and a constructive outlet for teachers. My research shows that coaching helps faculty, too. It’s not just students that benefit. Coaching helps teachers stay inspired and motivated.

Dr. Terry: How can coaching impact care delivery and professional development?

Dr. Barth: I’m incredibly fortunate to have a platform that could be an opportunity to change the make-up of medicine. We need doctors who share their patients’ lived experience. The better we understand their challenges, the easier it will be to fix them.

One thing that years of faculty development and coaching impressed on me is that leaders exist at all career levels.

It’s fun to help physicians achieve their goals and fascinating to watch people learn new leadership skills despite being established in their career.

Dr. Terry: Do you see emergency physicians becoming more strategic about their place in their hospitals and the broader health system?

Dr. Barth: There are so many challenges facing emergency physicians right now. Many of us are experiencing an old adage firsthand; if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Still, emergency medicine is a specialty on the rise with many opportunities to lead medicine forward. Some emergency physicians are moving up in their systems, but there are not as many emergency physician leaders as there could be.


Dr. Aisha Terry

Dr. Terry

Dr. Terry is president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.