Team Science

Two faculty from the Wake Forest University School of Business partner with School of Medicine faculty for leadership coaching

When the Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at the Wake Forest School of Medicine sought to improve how its research teams work together, it looked to the Wake Forest University School of Business for guidance.

Associate professor Holly Brower and professor Amy Wallis partnered with CTSI Team Science leadership to develop a new program to teach the leadership and management curriculum medical schools do not offer.

“We are helping them learn some of the principles that are automatic in our program such as team development, creating team charters, how to hold each other accountable, how to create concrete expectations, and how to manage teams well,” Brower said.

Team Science brings together professionals from different backgrounds who take their collective knowledge and translate it into clinical practice. These multi-disciplinary teams must be equipped with the necessary skills to work effectively and achieve their goals.

“We are not taught these things in medical school. What is run-of-the-mill for business schools are brand new skills for us to learn,” said Dr. David Miller, associate director of clinical and translational science and professor of internal medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The goal of the program was to equip all CTSI investigators engaged in translational research with the skills to foster collaboration, trust-building, and communication. Brower and Wallis worked with CTSI Team Science leadership to conduct a needs assessment, identify topics around effective teams, and develop workshops.

The material was initially launched with CTSI’s Translational Research Academy, a group comprised of junior investigators seeking to develop new skills in translational science, before being introduced to the larger team.

Since launching the program last year, Brower and Wallis have delivered four workshops focused on team dynamics, using team charters to minimize conflict, and how to have effective meetings. A half-day seminar was also conducted with 50 participants representing a diverse range of research teams working on aging, drug and opioid abuse, and cancer screening research. Brower and Wallis are also providing individualized coaching for specific teams.

“The program is exceeding my expectations. I’m pleased to see a very high-level demand from our faculty and trainees for the workshops,” Miller said. “I really see this partnership continuing into the future. We see our business school colleagues as partners in this endeavor.”

The CTSI at the Wake Forest School of Medicine is part of a network of more than 50 medical research institutions in the United States. The network works together to improve the translational research process by sharing innovations in training, research tools, and processes. Miller is proposing to share the materials and lessons learned from the partnership with the Wake Forest School of Business with other CTSIs across the nation.

“We will see more collaboration between schools of business and medical schools as we realize the need for these diverse skill sets when we look at healthcare as a whole,” he said.