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Leadership Institute


About SLDP

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) began offering the Senior Leadership Development Program (SLDP) in 2017, in partnership with the Academy for Advancing Leadership (AAL), to meet the needs of today’s emerging leaders in colleges of osteopathic medicine (COM).

Unlike general leadership programs, the SLDP curriculum is based on extensive feedback from nearly 250 COM chairs, associate deans and directors as well as 30 COM deans. Each year, we revise the program based on evaluations and input from senior COM leaders. Our expanded core curriculum is now paired with tracks so attendees can make the most of the experience.

The structure of the AACOM SLDP provides a unique opportunity for one-on-one and group engagement with experienced COM deans who serve as mentors. Small and highly interactive, the SLDP fosters learning and networking with colleagues from institutions across the country. The SLDP concludes with a capstone project that requires teams to research a critical issue facing COMs. The project outcome is a presentation a national conference or manuscript and publication, pending peer review, from which all osteopathic medical education can benefit. 

View all SLDP Cohorts and Mentors.


“Excellent program for developing future leadership within the profession of osteopathic medicine.”     
–Shane Speights, DO

“One of the biggest assets of this program is networking and developing a deeper understanding of colleges of osteopathic medicine across the nation.”     
–Nicole Wadsworth, DO

Why SLDP? An Important New Tool for COM Leadership

Professional development is critical to the future of osteopathic medical education. Identifying and developing strong leaders who can also serve as role models for the osteopathic community is a key part of our strategic plan at AACOM. With the continuing expansion of teaching locations, it imperative that we nurture leaders to fill critical positions. 

We have expanded our content and will offer a mix of in-person, virtual and on-demand learning. In addition to the core curriculum, leaders will be able to choose an elective track

Upon completion of SLDP, graduates will be well-positioned to meet today’s osteopathic medical education (OME) challenges including (but not limited to) the ability to: 

  • Describe the role leadership plays in building and sustaining comprehensive excellence through access, diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Explain common differences in the ways different genders lead
  • Practice the process of using advocacy and inquiry
  • Recognize when coaching is appropriate and when it is not
  • Acknowledge common legal issues faced by academic administrators
  • Identify the steps necessary for a successful strategic planning process
  • Recognize and address faculty and staff management and performance issues
  • Identify strategies for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty
  • Examine ways to add context and stories to evidence-based decisions
  • Discuss the characteristics of high-performing teams
  • Mentor emerging osteopathic leaders
  • Prepare for a Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) site visit

Graduates will also

  • Understand and build on personal strengths as a leader
  • Bolster professional relationships and network with expanded peer group
  • Develop a personal career plan
  • Improve decision making, priority-setting and conflict resolution skills
  • Apply a character-based model of leadership to one's current leadership practice

“This program has helped me to take my leadership skills to another level and to refine my leadership style.”     
–Michael J. Sampson, DO, FAOASM

SLDP breakout sessions

What Topics are Covered?  

The revised curriculum covers many aspects of leadership.  The diagrams below provide an overview, or you can print out the Curriculum Overview for a more detailed view.

General Leadership Topics

  • Leadership Self Assessments
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Project Planning
  • Career Development Plan

The Leader and Organizational Dynamics
  • High Performance
    Teams and Committees
  • Strategic Planning
  • Academic Leadership

Leadership in Osteopathic Medical Education
  • Decision Making
  • Legal Issues
  • Preparing for COCA
  • Faculty Challenges

Cultural Competencies and Inclusion
  • Leadership Self Assessments
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Project Planning
  • Career Development Plan

New Elective Tracks (each applicant to select one)
Women in Leadership
  • Gender Equality in the Workplace
  • Utilizing Critical Conversations to Cultivate Impactful Collaboration
  • Resilient and Adaptive Leadership in Women's Leadership
  • Power Dynamics and Assertiveness
  • Networking as a Strategy for Navigating a Path Forward

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
  • Embracing Diversity and Understanding Equity
  • Complexities, Challenges and Critical Conversations of DEIB
  • Creating a Culture of Inclusion
  • Unpacking the Essence of Belonging: Climate Matters
  • Forging a Path to Inclusiveness in Medical Education Scholarship

Learning and Curriculum
  • Optimizing Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning
  • Helping Your Faculty Work Productively with Struggling Students
  • Assessing Your Program's Student Evaluation System
  • Building Faculty Capacity for Educational Research
  • Having the Talk: Difficult Teaching and Learning Conversations

What is the Capstone?

AACOM's SLDP is designed, not only to benefit the fellow and his or her institution, but also all osteopathic medical education. Shortly after the program begins, each group will identify a Capstone Project that, when implemented, will have a significant impact for faculty, students, a college of osteopathic medicine or the way osteopathic medicine is taught and assessed.

The Capstone Project will be presented at the conclusion of the program, which coincides with Educating Leaders, the AACOM Annual Conference.

Who Is Eligible to Apply?

The program is designed for current and future COM leaders (new/experienced deans, associate/assistant deans, department chairs, directors, etc.) who have a letter of support from their institution’s dean or higher authority. Applicant must be committed to participate in all phases of the program (in-person, virtual, on-demand and capstone presentation).

Who is eligible to apply for SLDP?

Applicants should have demonstrated the following:

  • Outstanding success in past or current positions
  • A clear track record of increasing administrative responsibilities
  • Experience with responsibilities such as chairing committees, advising student groups or mentoring faculty and students
  • Participation in local, regional or national professional development workshops
  • A record of scholarly contributions through teaching or research

“This program allowed me to improve on my current leadership skills, meet colleagues that had [the] same goals and objectives in wanting to improve and enhance medical education. The advisors/mentors were excellent in helping with my growth as a leader. This program was so worth it.”     
–John T. Pham, DO

General Timeframe

The SLDP will take place over a one-year period with a mix of in-person, virtual and on-demand learning sessions. SLDP will include 4.5 days of onsite learning, 6 hours of virtual training, 1.5 hours of on-demand viewing, and additional time determined by peer groups to meet online. 

SLDP Flowchart Phase 1 - 3

Fees & Institutional Commitment

AACOM is committed to supporting the SLDP. Tuition for the program is as follows: 

  • $9,500 for individuals from a member COM. If more than one individual per COM applies, a 20% discount will be granted to additional individuals from the same COM.  

Tuition covers speakers, moderators, resource materials and other ancillary meeting costs. COMS are responsible for the tuition, travel and lodging costs per individual. 

The fellow’s institution agrees to pay his or her full salary and benefits during the time the fellow participates in the SLDP. 

How to Apply

If you meet eligibility requirements and understand the financial commitments of the program, you will need the following for the application:   

  • Letter of support (download example)
  • Current CV
  • List leadership positions and dates served (max 5 positions)
  • Statement of your strengths and weaknesses (max 500 words)
  • Statement of two things you are most looking forward to learning from SLDP
  • Completed application


Thinking of asking your Dean for support to apply? Download a sample justification letter.


“A very needed and useful initiative.”     
–George Mychaskiw II, DO

CME Credit

unecom logo

Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit will be made available through the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM), which is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association  and by the Maine Medical Association’s Committee on Continuing Medical Education and Accreditation), to provide CME for physicians. Contact hours may be submitted by non-physician, non-PA health professionals for continuing education credits.

In recognition of their achievement, SLDP Fellows will receive a signed certificate from AACOM upon successfully completing the program.