Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 692–697

Teambuilding and leadership training in an internal medicine residency training program

Experience with a one-day retreat


  • James K. Stoller
    • the Division of Medicine, Departments of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicinethe Cleveland Clinic Foundation
  • Mark Rose
    • Desk NA 21, Internal Medicine Residency ProgramCleveland Clinic Foundation
  • Rita Lee
    • Desk NA 21, Internal Medicine Residency ProgramCleveland Clinic Foundation
  • Colleen Dolgan
    • Cleveland Clinic Health System (CCHS) Center for Quality Leadershipthe Cleveland Clinic Foundation
    • Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolismthe Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Innovations In Education And Clinical Practice

DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30247.x

Cite this article as:
Stoller, J.K., Rose, M., Lee, R. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2004) 19: 692. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30247.x


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this report is to describe and evaluate the impact of a 1-day retreat focused on developing leadership skills and teambuilding among postgraduate year 1 residents in an internal medicine residency.

METHOD: A group of organizers, including members of the staff, the chief medical residents, administrative individuals in the residency office, and an internal organizational development consultant convened to organize an off-site retreat with activities that would provide experiential learning regarding teamwork and leadership, including a “reef survival exercise” and table discussions regarding the characteristics of ideal leaders. In addition, several energizing activities and recreational free time was provided to enhance the interaction and teamwork dimensions of the retreat. To evaluate the impact of the retreat, attendees completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires regarding their experience of the retreat.

RESULTS: Attendees universally regarded the retreat as having value for them. Comparison of baseline to postretreat responses indicated that attendees felt that the retreat enhanced their abilities to be better physicians, resident supervisors, and leaders. Follow-up responses indicated significant increases in attendees’ agreement that good leaders challenge the process, make decisions based on shared visions, allow others to act, recognize individual contributions, and serve as good role models. Results on the survival exercise indicated a high frequency with which team-based decisions surpassed individual members’ decisions, highlighting the importance and value of teamwork to attendees.

CONCLUSIONS: Our main findings were that: participants universally found this 1-day retreat beneficial in helping to develop teamwork and leadership skills and the experiential learning aspects of the retreat were more especially highly rated and highlighted the advantages of teamwork.

In the context that this 1-day retreat was deemed useful by faculty and residents alike, further study is needed to assess the impact of this learning on actual clinical practice and the durability of these lessons.

Key words

leadershipresidency trainingteambuilding
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© Society of General Internal Medicine 2004