Ashlesha Kaushik, MD, FAAP; Pediatrics Leadership program participant

Ashlesha Kaushik, MD, FAAP is a pediatric infectious disease physician, Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and Chair of Pharmacotherapeutics and Nutrition at UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's in Iowa. She also serves as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Iowa Chapter Immunization Representative and holds an academic appointment by the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Dr. Kaushik is a recipient of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019 Childhood Immunization Champion Award for Iowa. She is currently participating in the 2019/2020 cohort of Harvard Medical School’s Pediatrics Leadership Program (PLP).

Ashlesha Kaushik, MD, FAAP

Dr. Kaushik was looking for a professional development program that would help accelerate her leadership potential. During her career, she had already assumed leadership roles and had been a spokesperson in the media on several issues. She was seeking more opportunities for advocacy and leadership positions on a statewide and national basis.

“Harvard Medical School’s Pediatrics Leadership Program caught my interest because it’s focused toward the needs of established health care professionals,” said Dr. Kaushik. “I also appreciate that the program places an emphasis on humanism, which supports clinician wellness and compassionate patient care.”

The program is designed to help health care professionals achieve leadership positions and excel as heads of teams, departments, divisions, projects and institutions. Capstone projects are tailored to each participant’s personal leadership goals.

“I’ve been able to focus on clinical aspects of care as well as research during the program,” Dr. Kaushik commented.

The program’s blended format is anchored by three in-person workshops and supplemented with live virtual class sessions, self-paced learning and team-based projects. Participants build new and lasting professional networks through cohorts of global classmates and program instructors who are global leaders in their fields.

It’s been an intense experience. The program is demanding, and there are deadlines, but it’s also designed in a format that’s conducive to my busy work schedule.”

Dr. Kaushik credits the support and mentorship of the program instructors in giving her the feedback and encouragement to advance as a leader in clinical care and research. In particular, she notes the program’s faculty director, Phillip L. Pearl, MD, and Richard Malley, MD, senior physician in Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

“Making close connections with the program’s esteemed faculty has been so valuable to me.”

As a result of the program, Dr. Kaushik and Dr. Pearl, who also serves as the Director of Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology at Boston Children’s Hospital and the William G. Lennox Chair and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, are collaborating on a paper about a rare complication of measles.

Her capstone project, with the support of Dr. Malley as faculty adviser, has been selected for presentation at the 2020 Pediatric Academic Societies' meeting. The capstone project that she developed during the program is titled, “Smart technology and education for smart protection against the Flu: Impact of a multifaceted quality improvement (QI) intervention on influenza vaccination rates in children.” Dr. Kaushik’s project studies the impact of a multifaceted QI intervention on influenza vaccination rates across children evaluated at outpatient clinics, urgent care and emergency departments at UnityPoint Health tertiary care centers in Northwestern and Northcentral Iowa.

Since beginning PLP, Dr. Kaushik has been featured as a global health expert on the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Immunization Advocates website, she has been selected to be a national AAP Spokesperson and elected to the AAP IA Chapter Legislative committee. She also has been active as a TV and print media spokesperson in Iowa.

In reflecting upon her experience in the Pediatrics Leadership Program, Dr. Kaushik notes, “I am really honored to be part of PLP and look forward to the rest of the program with great enthusiasm.”