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Helping you bring a powerful voice and perspective to any board.

Effective Board Governance Course

The WSMA Effective Board Governance Course is a full-day seminar providing in-depth education about governance: what it is, what boards do, why they exist, and how you can be an effective participant.

Why it's important

Physicians are increasingly being asked to serve on the board of their clinic, medical group, or integrated system. But to be an effective board member it is important to understand the difference between a constituency-based board and a representative board, what's expected of you in terms of fiduciary responsibility, who you are expected to represent, and how to be effective in communicating as a board member. Equipped with this knowledge, physicians can be even stronger leaders and bring a powerful voice and perspective to any board.


Edward A. Walker, MD, MHA

This course is led by Edward A. Walker, MD, MHA, professor emeritus in the departments of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and health services at the University of Washington in Seattle and senior physician advisor for the WSMA Center for Leadership Development.

Cancellation policy

Refunds are available for live event registration depending on when the refund is requested in relation to the start of the seminar.

  • 30 days or more until start of event: a 100% refund less a $25 processing fee per person
  • 15–29 days until start of event: 50% refund
  • 14 days or less until start of event: no refund

The WSMA reserves the right to cancel the seminar. If so, preregistered participants will be notified, and full refunds provided. No shows will receive no refund. Registrations may not be transferred to another person at any time. A participant may transfer registration one time to the next available course if space permits. All subsequent transfers of registration will incur a change fee, subject to the discretion of course management. All refunds will be issued to the original form of payment.

What You'll Learn

Overview of governance

  • What is it? What do boards do? Why do they exist?
  • The difference between governing boards and operational management boards.
  • How do boards interact with organizational leadership? Strategic instead of tactical, operational focus.
  • The board's role in the attention to mission, vision, and values. The responsibilities and duties of a board member.
  • Your personal contribution as a board member.

Orientation: Becoming an effective board member

  • Are physicians naturally good as board members?
  • How do you learn your new role?
  • Dealing with "problematic" board members.

How effective is your board?

  • Description of an "ideal" board.
  • Detailed assessment of your current board.
  • Evaluating your board's performance.

Communication as a board member

  • How do you communicate as a board member?
  • Style vs substance differences.
  • The power of speaking up (and the power of silence).
  • Dealing with conflict constructively.

Leadership as a board member

  • Committee leadership.
  • Followership on other committees.
  • Getting things done.

Board terms

  • How long should I serve?
  • How do I help create succession planning?


What have we learned about being on a board?


The WSMA may have a photographer or videographer on-site at this event to gather imagery for use by the WSMA in its communications materials and channels as well as for media outreach. These images will be the property of the WSMA, and the WSMA will not sell or otherwise market event imagery. If you have any questions regarding imagery taken at a WSMA event, please contact Milana McLead at

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