A global network of like-minded professionals is key to advance health worldwide. This is one of the key take-home messages of the 21 outstanding young physicians below the age of 40 convened by IAP from 13-19 October 2022 in Berlin, Germany, for the annual Young Physician Leaders (YPL) Programme.
The YPL Programme trains emerging leaders working in healthcare centres around the world and links them in a peer-support network. The 2022 cohort met on 13 October for a ‘meet and greet’ dinner. For the two following days they undertook an intensive leadership workshop at the headquarters of the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT).
“I think that one of the major things that the YPL programme has achieved is to broaden the global opportunities for physicians who are not only researchers,” said Jo Boufford, IAP YPL Project Coordinator, who has been working on the programme since its inception in 2011.
“Peer learning is one of the most powerful mechanisms of learning and the unique diversity of our YPL groups makes this programme special,” she added, highlighting that around 50% of the YPL alumni come from the Global South, and the selection process takes into account not only gender diversity, but also role diversity in terms of specializations and medical fields.
The 2022 workshop included many of the signature sessions that previous cohorts had attended, such as an introduction on leadership experiences, sessions on decision making with ESMT’s Francis de Vericourt, and reflections on leadership styles with ESMT’s Nora Grasselli.
This year’s agenda also included an “ambidexterity exercise”, a game that uses a maze that emits an electronic beep when wrong choices are made – all aimed at helping participants understand the leadership challenge they are facing, i.e. successfully navigating the maze without talking.
“The question is: are you leading to innovate or execute?” explained Nora Grasselli.
“There is a lot of innovation in healthcare, and I think [these] participants are extremely good at creating content for innovation in their fields,” she said.
“However, we know it's quite difficult to lead a team through an innovative process,” she added, noting that the game allowed YPLs to experience this process and the challenges of leadership where people make mistakes.
The YPLs also visited the Bayer Foundation in Berlin, where a group of them presented the work they carry out in their daily lives, and to discuss innovation with Bayer Foundation experts.
On 15 October, the 2022 YPL cohort joined the Virchow Prize for Global Health Award Ceremony. The prize recognises and celebrates innovations with significant impact on the broad health challenges we face as a global community. The award honours lifetime achievements towards ‘Health for All’.
“Primary health care is the best investment in promoting health and preventing disease – but it also operates as the “eyes and ears” of the health system, detecting and responding to outbreaks at their earliest stage,” said Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, during the ceremony.
“This is something that my brother John Nkengasong knows only too well,” he added presenting the winner of the inaugural award.
Nkengasong was later joined onstage by the founding president of the World Health Summit (WHS) Detlev Ganten, who is a former co-chair of IAP Health and a strong supporter of the YPL programme.
The WHS itself is a leading international forum for global health. In 2022 it took place in Berlin and virtually from 16 to 18 October and the YPLs not only joined it as guests: they were also challenged to develop and present a session during the final day of the Summit.
A full room welcomed the YPLs who presented on ‘Effective Leaders for Effective Health Systems’ (you can watch the recording of the session here). The session included three different topics: ‘Leadership and leadership experiences’, ‘Women and healthcare: A YPL perspective’, and ‘Digital health: A YPL perspective’. A lively Q&A session followed each section of the event, with questions posed by activists, students, and even Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the Deputy Minister of Health of South Africa.
“We spent a good time together, [and] we had an amazing experience,” summed up at the end of the session Paolo Parente, a YPL from Italy.
“We arrived here from all corners of the world with several ideas on what we should have expected but I think that what we have lived in these days has been amazing,” he added.
“Thank you to the InterAcademy Partnership for doing it, for allowing us to join this great experience, and thank you all for all the support, the questions, and to be committed, as all of us, for a better healthcare in the future,” he concluded.
This ongoing IAP programme once more had the collaboration of the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) with the support of the Tides Foundation, the Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Bayer Foundation.
More photos are available here: