DEI Faculty Spotlight: Elisha Brownfield, M.D.

Natalie Wilson
July 29, 2022
Elisha Brownfield, M.D.

As part of the Department of Medicine’s goal to promote a culture that values and honors diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’re “spotlighting” DOM faculty, trainees and staff members who are leading the way in DEI initiatives across campus and the community.

This month, we’re spotlighting Elisha Brownfield, M.D., professor in the division of General Internal Medicine and vice chair for strategic leadership development. Dr. Brownfield shares about how the MUSC Leadership Institute’s programs contribute to the development of diversity in leadership across the university.

Diversity development through the MUSC Leadership Institute programs

Under Dr. Brownfield’s leadership, MUSC has made significant strides toward strengthening its culture of leadership development and focusing on diversity in leadership. Dr. Brownfield is dedicated to supporting faculty and staff develop their skills in order to enact meaningful change among their teams and contribute to transformation and growth across the enterprise.

Beginning in 2016, as part of the Innovative Education and Learning goal of the MUSC 2020 strategic plan, a team was formed to develop enterprise-wide leadership development opportunities, organize retreats for senior leaders, and evolve MUSC’s ideal leadership culture.

Building upon this initiative, the MUSC Leadership Institute was created under Dr. Brownfield’s leadership. Aligning its activities with MUSC’s strategic plan, OneMUSC, under the direction of the President’s Council, the MUSC Leadership Institute’s mission is to further MUSC's strategic priorities and mission through the support and development of leaders.

The Institute’s biannual Emerging Leaders Program and the annual Advanced Leadership Program are two recurring enterprise-wide programs offered.

The Emerging Leaders Program is designed for early to mid-career future leaders and is open to all MUSC faculty and staff interested in developing critical skills to lead effectively from their current position. Among the variety of leadership topics covered, diversity and inclusion is a key component of the curriculum.

The Advanced Leadership Program is designed for MUSC leaders of people and programs with the potential to become strategic leaders for academic health science systems. It is an application-based, highly selective program and the commitment to diversity starts with the application process. In accordance with best practices, all applications are blinded and scored using a rubric that is made transparent to all applicants as part of the application packet. Each application receives rubric scores from multiple reviewers.

The program’s curriculum includes a whole day session on “Building Highly Effective Teams” and a key program objective is training leaders on the power of diverse teams. Activities for this session have included a computer-simulated teamwork program, unconscious bias training, and roundtable facilitated discussions on building diverse teams. The majority of faculty members in the program are MUSC leaders from across the enterprise. “It is important to our curriculum team that these leaders champion the concept of institutional strength through diversity,” Dr. Brownfield said.

Several Advanced Leadership Program alumni have key diversity leadership positions across MUSC and beyond, including:
Dr. Mileka Gilbert – Assistant Dean for Resident and Faculty Inclusion, College of Medicine
Tonya Hazelton – Diversity Officer, College of Nursing
Dr. Felesia Bowen – Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, College of Nursing UAB
Dr. Natalie Johnson – Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs, College of Medicine
Stephanie Taylor – Director of Operations, Diversity and Inclusion, MUSC Health

Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Brownfield explained, the MUSC Leadership Institute has begun to evaluate an ambitious set of program outcomes. Vetted by the President’s Council, these include the objective: The MUSC Advanced Leadership program serves MUSC in all its diversity and contributes to the development of diversity in leadership.

Data to assess the success of this objective includes: The percentage of program participants that self-identify as belonging to an underrepresented group; program cohorts represent the full scope MUSC employees; the recruitment of diverse leaders into the program; and the Press Ganey ‘diversity perception score’ for applicable Advanced Leadership Program alumni.

Dr. Brownfield has dedicated her career to helping create a stronger culture of leadership, and through her work with the MUSC Leadership Institute, she has had a tremendous impact on bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront of leadership development at MUSC.