PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: PCOM's new grad program teaches leadership

Helping leaders learn to lead is a big part of the curriculum in a new graduate program in Suwanee. This past May, six graduates of the inaugural class of the Master of Science program in Organizational Development and Leadership (ODL) at the Suwanee campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) received their degrees.

These graduates and the currently enrolled students are future industry executives, non-profit leaders, doctors and health care providers, and government leaders. They live in Gwinnett and neighboring counties and they are making a difference in the lives of local citizens.

Leadership today means managing and navigating change, it means finding the courage to connect authentically with those you lead. The ODL program at PCOM balances both the leadership side and the organization change side in the curriculum. Both are necessary to achieve the impact leaders desire; and neither is sufficient on its own.

The GA PCOM ODL program supports our adult learners in developing self-awareness which in turn supports skill development in understanding and managing change in a way that inspires others. The outcome is impact -- on individuals, on organizations, and on community.

Individual impact is most powerful in classes that provide surveys to assess leadership style, personality preferences, engagement styles and influences from family systems. The self-awareness that develops from these classes is powerful, so much so that it is often spoken of as “life changing.”

When a leader learns how their caretaking skills can help others and also how those same skills can suffocate others, the leader gains a new perspective, one that is carried forward into all aspects of work and home.

Our students are working adults who bring their work organizations into the classroom for group discussion and problem solving. Their work, civic and religious organizations gain quick benefits from the application of models and theories studied in class. Learning to see a larger system in an even larger context allows leaders to consider a variety of perspectives and to engage more of the organization in creating changes that stick.

The ODL curriculum is taught through discussion, experiential exercises, team projects and individual papers. There are no traditional tests or GRE requirements because those results are not predictive of success. Instead, the program supports learning through action and experiment in the real world. Student projects have engaged the community through food bank drives, clothing collections for homeless families, and charity events. A good leader understands the need for connection at all levels, from individual, family, organization, and community. And as we graduate more and more folks, the GA PCOM M.S. ODL community will grow ever stronger as a contributor to quality of life in Gwinnett and the region.

For more information contact Beth Levine at elizabethlev@pcom.edu or go to www.pcom.edu.

People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services. For more information contact Ellen Gerstein - ellen@gwinnettcoalition.