A tale of two frameworks: charting a path to lifelong learning for physician leaders through CanMEDS and LEADS

M.K. Chan*, G. Dickson, D.A. Keegan, J.O. Busari, A. Matlow, J. Van Aerde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose The purpose of this paper was to determine the complementarity between the Canadian Medical Education Directions for Specialists (CanMEDS) physician competency and LEADS leadership capability frameworks from three perspectives: epistemological, philosophical and pragmatic. Based on those findings, the authors propose how the frameworks collectively layout pathways of lifelong learning for physician leadership. Design/methodology/approach Using a qualitative approach combining critical discourse analysis with a modified Delphi, the authors examined "How complementary the CanMEDS and LEADS frameworks are in guiding physician leadership development and practice" with the following sub-questions: What are the similarities and differences between CanMEDS and LEADS from: An epistemological and philosophical perspective? The perspective of guiding physician leadership training and practice? How can CanMEDS and LEADS guide physician leadership development from medical school to retirement? Findings Similarities and differences exist between the two frameworks from philosophical and epistemological perspectives with significant complementarity. Both frameworks are founded on a caring ethos and value physician leadership - CanMEDS (for physicians) and LEADS (physicians as one of many professions) define leadership similarly. The frameworks share beliefs in the function of leadership, embrace a belief in distributed leadership, and although having some philosophical differences, have a shared purpose (preparing for changing health systems). Practically, the frameworks are mutually supportive, addressing leadership action in different contexts and where there is overlap, complement one another in intent and purpose. Originality/value To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first paper to map the CanMEDS (physician competency) and LEADS (leadership capabilities) frameworks. By determining the complementarity between the two, synergies can be used to influence physician leadership capacity needed for today and the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-73
Number of pages28
JournalLeadership in Health Services
Issue number1
Early online date9 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022


  • Healthcare
  • Health leadership competencies
  • Leadership
  • Health education

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