The Leadership Institute opens doors of opportunity


By Tammie Ferringer, MD

In 2007 I had the fortune of being accepted into the year-long Academic Dermatology Leadership Program (ADLP). Little did I know how much impact it would have on my career, and my life in general.   

Through the ADLP and the associated Leadership Forum — both components of the Academy’s Leadership Institute — I learned about my strengths and how to maximize them, but also to acknowledge areas for improvement. For example, the Myers Briggs assessment showed that I am a clear introvert. I had always assumed that the best leaders had to be extroverts, but I learned that the best results come from a balance of various types working together.

Self awareness

I looked at things very differently from that time on. I recognized my tendency for introversion and that there are times when this may be to my benefit and other times when I need to stretch to be more extroverted. I realized I could no longer wait to be introduced or invited. I learned to extend my hand and introduce myself, sometimes saying, “I am interested in what you are doing, how can I get involved?” While it probably takes a little more energy for me to be vocal and interactive at receptions and meetings, that little change has opened many doors of opportunity.   


Another great benefit of participating in the Leadership Forum is that it offers a unique chance to interact with nearly as many leaders as attendees. Multiple activities including a networking buffet, hot topics breakfast, mentoring dinner, and several workshops encourage interaction. Another opportunity to network is the half day team-building exercise. The exact activity varies year to year and is always kept a secret, but typically arouses a competitive nature while incorporating volunteerism. Participants at the annual Leadership Forum leave with a contact list and leaders leave with a directory of eager people to contact with a wide variety of interests and skill sets.   

Putting it in action

My experiences with the Leadership Institute have resulted in professional and personal growth. In the six years since I completed the ADLP program, I’ve been on four committees or task forces in the AAD and four in the American Society of Dermatopathology, including chairing one in each society. I’ve also found a role in the International Society of Dermatopathology, write dermatopathology questions for both the American Board of Dermatology and American Board of Pathology, and serve as associate editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

Nomination to the AAD’s Leadership Development Steering Committee led to my participation in the Center for Creative Leadership program in Colorado. The feedback and role playing in small groups and one-on-one coaching were invaluable. When I left, I was able to approach my pathology chair in a whole new way that completely changed our relationship.

On a more personal level, the program provided me with skills on managing conflict and eliciting “buy-in” that I use as a fellowship director and section head of dermatopathology. Interestingly enough, many of the principles help in my marriage and as the new mom of an adopted five year old.   

One of the most gratifying parts of my involvement in the AAD Leadership Institute is that now I am in a place where I can pass on what I have learned and provide these opportunities to others. This past year, Diane Baker, a past president of the AAD, and I worked with a consultant to develop and moderate a session on Managing Group Dynamics at the Annual Meeting.

Many people come to the Leadership Forum with the goal of becoming involved in Academy committees and directing sessions at the Annual Meeting but learn that there are other options like volunteering for skin cancer screenings, political advocacy, state or subspecialty society leadership and presenting at local and community educational events. Each of these activities is a chance to develop, practice, and hone your leadership skills. I was quickly able to become active in a number of roles in the smaller American Society of Dermatopathology. 

I feel very lucky to have been involved in the early years of the ADLP, because so many of these opportunities would have otherwise never been possible.

Dr. Ferringer is the section head of dermatopathology and the director of the Dermatopathology Fellowship Program at Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania. She is assistant editor for the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and associate editor for Cutis. She is also current chair of the AAD Poster Exhibits Task Force, ASDP MOC committee chair, and on the executive committee of the ISDP.

Additionally, she serves on the ABD Curriculum committee and the American Board of Pathology Test Development and Advisory committee.

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