Leadership development is vital to the future of medicine. Some leadership development may take place through the formal curriculum of the medical school, yet extracurricular activities, such as student government and affiliated student organizations, can provide additional, highly valuable leadership development opportunities. These organizations and their missions can serve as catalysts for students to work with one another, with the faculty and administration of the medical school, with the community, and with local, regional, and national organizations.The authors have organized this discussion of the leadership development potential of student organizations around six important principles of leadership: ownership, experience, efficacy, sense of community, service learning, and peer-to-peer mentoring. They provide practical examples of these leadership principles from one institution. They do not presume that the school is unique, but they do believe their practical examples help to illuminate the potential of extracurricular programs for enhancing the leadership capabilities of future physicians. In addition, the authors use their examples to demonstrate how the medical school, its surrounding community, and the profession of medicine can benefit from promoting leadership through student organizations.
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