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Amber Barnato Selected as Fellow in Prestigious National Leadership Program

Amber Barnato, MD, MPH, MS. Photo by Rob Strong

Amber Barnato, MD, MPH, MS, the John E. Wennberg Distinguished Professor in Health Policy and Clinical Practice and director of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine, has been accepted into the 2022-2023 class of fellows in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM®) program for women.

ELAM, a core program of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, is a year-long, part-time fellowship dedicated to preparing women for senior leadership roles in schools of medicine, dentistry, public health, and pharmacy.

The program is focused on developing the professional and personal skills required to lead and manage in today’s complex healthcare environment, with special attention paid to the unique challenges facing women in leadership positions. ELAM alumnae number over 1,200 and serve in leadership positions at nearly 300 academic health centers worldwide.

In a highly competitive selection process, Barnato was one of just 72 fellows who were accepted into this year’s class from the largest pool of applicants in the program’s history.

“I am thrilled to join this amazing group of women on a journey to deepen our self-awareness and hone our skills in service to our organizations and the field of academic health sciences,” says Barnato.

Barnato is a physician trained in general preventive medicine and public health and hospice and palliative medicine who is acclaimed for her research on medical decision-making for patients with serious illnesses.

Beginning this month, individuals selected for the ELAM program will engage in a variety of assignments and community building activities including an action project at their home institution, developed in collaboration with the fellow’s dean or other senior official.

“We are extremely excited to see the impact these women will have on their institutions as they work through the ELAM curriculum and develop their action projects,” says Nancy Spector, MD, a professor of pediatrics and senior vice dean for faculty at Drexel University College of Medicine and executive director of the ELAM program. “The projects the fellows conduct not only help them understand the challenges facing academic health centers and the skills a leader must possess to address these challenges, but also often result in concrete changes at their institutions.”

Since joining the Dartmouth community in 2017, Barnato has served as a professor of The Dartmouth Institute and of medicine at Geisel. She also served as the inaugural Susan J. and Richard M. Levy 1960 Distinguished Professor in Health Care Delivery at Dartmouth College.

Barnato has devoted her career to studying variation in end-of-life ICU and life-sustaining treatment use. She uses methods such as ethnography and simulation to isolate mechanisms that underlie differences in treatment decisions from one doctor to another for otherwise similar patients.

This work has led to an explanatory model regarding the ways that organizational norms affect providers’ implicit—or unconscious—cognition, their communication patterns with patients, and subsequent patient and family expectations. She is currently testing organization and physician-level interventions that can interrupt these cycles and refocus medical care to individual patients’ own goals and values.

In addition to her research and administrative duties, Barnato sees patients through the Palliative Care service at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and teaches at The Dartmouth Institute. She joins a distinguished list of past ELAM fellows at Geisel and Dartmouth Hitchcock that includes Erika Brown, PhD, Ilana Cass, MD, Jocelyn Chertoff, MD, MS, Sonia Chimienti, MD, Kathleen Clem, MD, Joanne Conroy, MD, and Barbara Jobst, MD.

Barnato earned a BA from the University of California at Berkeley, an MD from Harvard Medical School, an MPH from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MS from Stanford University.