Harvard Medical School Post-Graduate Certificate Program

Course Overview


Certificate Program for Executive Skills Development and High-Impact Leadership, Inside and Outside the Operating Room

The Surgical Leadership Program is the Harvard Medical School post-graduate certificate program for surgeons seeking to step into and succeed in leadership positions and acquire skills needed to excel as heads of departments, divisions, projects, and institutions at large.

Participants learn directly from Harvard’s leading faculty across all areas influencing surgical leadership, including communication, mentoring, process and quality improvement, change management, financial management, and surgical research and technique.


This course provides intensive education for surgeons to build the nontechnical, executive skills necessary to successfully lead departments, divisions, programs, and ultimately, organizations. Drawing from best practices across Harvard Medical School, its major teaching hospitals, as well as the Harvard Business School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, this program offers you the opportunity to:

  • Learn strategies and best practices for leadership within and outside the operating room
  • Identify your personal brand, leadership style(s) and competencies
  • Write business plans and grant applications
  • Enhance expertise in quality, safety and informatics
  • Understand the legal and commercial aspects of innovation in surgery
  • Build and manage highly productive teams
  • Drive better patient outcomes through enhanced teamwork in the operating room
  • Become a more effective negotiator and advocate for your patients, teams, departments and projects
  • Manage change across organizational functions
  • Update your understanding of new surgical technologies and techniques

Participants who achieve the program objectives are awarded a Harvard Medical School Certificate of Completion and are eligible to become Associate Members of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard University Alumni Associations. 


This program was designed with surgeons’ busy schedules in mind. It is anchored by three international 4-day workshops in London and Boston, which aim to create interactive learning using Harvard's case method. Additional core teaching is delivered through interactive webinars delivered by international experts and more than 40 on-demand lectures, which you can view at your convenience. The course culminates with a personalized Capstone Project, enabling you to apply what you have learned in a context that advances your immediate and long-term goals in your home institution.

As a participant, you will improve your ability to:

  • Lead organizations
  • Be at the forefront of surgical innovation, research, technology, and process improvement
  • Advocate and negotiate for resources and funding
  • Understand and leverage financial information for sound leadership decisions
  • Improve surgical performance through enhanced teamwork and surgical innovations
  • Resolve conflicts and negotiate deals
  • Lead quality and safety initiatives
  • Promote your ideas and personal brand
  • Manage crises, both clinical and administrative
  • Mentor new generations of surgeons and promote surgical education


This program features an innovative learning model that is structured around the needs of practicing  surgeons.

This learning model includes:

  • Three 4-day workshops:
    • Workshop 1:  Your choice of venue
      • Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA | September 10-13, 2018; or 
      • The Royal Society in London, UK | October 5-8, 2018 
    • Workshop 2:  Your choice of venue
      • Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA | March 11-14, 2019; or
      • The Royal Society in London, UK | April 1-4, 2019 
    • Workshop 3: All participants convene in Boston, MA
      • Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA | September 12-15, 2019 

Workshops feature highly interactive teaching and skills-development experiences and faculty from Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Business School and surgical innovators at Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospitals.    

  • A comprehensive core curriculum that is presented in live lectures (at the workshops); on-demand, self-paced lectures; and live webinars
  • Group and individualized skills-development projects


Every participant of the Harvard Medical School Surgical Leadership program will have access to a Harvard faculty mentor. These will be assigned by the program directors based on the mentor's expertise and ability to provide specialist guidance.

Your mentor will provide guidance for your Capstone Project, including:

  • Assistance in choosing the focus for your project
  • Providing feedback at the outline phase of your project
  • Reviewing the first and final drafts of your project and providing guidance to help you optimize its value


Upon successful completion of the program requirements, participants are awarded a Harvard Medical School Certificate of Completion and are eligible to become Associate Members of the Harvard Medical School Alumni Association.