Leadership in the Medical Field: Series Part 1—What It Is & Why It's Critical

Medical Leadership – What and Why

Leadership in the Medical Field: Series Part 1 —What It Is & Why It’s Critical

Today we have the first post in a three-part series from our regular contributor, Lindsey Harper Mac. Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree. You can find links to some of her earlier posts at the end of the article.

Leadership in the medical and healthcare field is a critically important subject. It is important for healthcare personnel, those interested in the field and the public to examine at some length. Leadership determines the quality of healthcare provided to patients even during periods of relative stasis. Thus, the topic needs to be provided to all healthcare provider students. That is from those currently completing a medical assistant program to postdoctoral physician fellows. Further, the authority provided by effective leadership helps maintain measured calm. That is through the upcoming periods of change scheduled to take place in the US through 2020 according to the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Through this series of three articles, we plan to examine what’s meant by the term “medical leadership.” We will discuss why it’s so important to both professionals in the field and patients. What personal attributes are required to be an effective leader. Also the means by which effective leaders work with other healthcare providers.

What is Effective Medical Leadership?

Effective medical leadership is more than the ability to bark out instructions and orders for subordinates to follow and complete. Rather, as Matt Green and Lynne Gell indicate in their recent article for BMJ Career’s website, “Effective Medical Leadership for Consultants: Personal Qualities and Working with Others,” the term is best defined through a theoretical framework that includes the many qualities required of the term and the interactive ways in which it’s demonstrated. As O*Net Online indicates—for a representative healthcare position, a registered nurse (RN)—leadership in the healthcare field also includes aspects of “strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling…. and coordination of people and resources.”

The Medical Leadership Competency Framework

In order to illustrate the qualities, types of qualities and the means of demonstrating leadership, the National Health Service (NHS) Institute for Innovation & Improvement and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges together developed the Medical Leadership Competency Framework  annotated diagram above. This figure allows physicians and other healthcare workers to visually review the different aspects of medical leadership. They can self-assess themselves as to areas that might require improvement or training. The diagram is in the shape of a circle to represent the holistic ideal of quality of medicine. Within the circle’s core is the ultimate goal, “Delivering the Service.” The center of the circle opens to the outside via five separate lanes. These effectively divide the outer aspect of the framework’s circle into five wedge-like areas that represent the ways in which leadership is demonstrated:

  • Demonstrating personal qualities.
  • Working with others.
  • Managing services.
  • Improving services.
  • Setting direction.

Each of these wedge-like areas is further comprised of four primary characteristics. These indicate how leadership in that particular area is best demonstrated. In Part II and Part III of this article series, we’ll explore what the four primary characteristics are for two of the areas “demonstrating personal qualities” and “working with others.”

Why is Effective Medical Leadership Deemed “Critical?”

As Green and Gel summarized in their paper cited earlier, the connection between effective medical leadership and good medical care is “well documented” and the “key to delivery high quality care and a positive experience for patients.” In part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss further the specific personal qualities that make a good leader in the medical field.

About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

Also by Lindsey Harper Mac

Career Development Part 1 – Why Get An Advanced Degree? The Answer is Obvious

Career Development Part 2: Want a Promotion? Focus on Factors Within your Control

Career Development Part 3: Performance Reviews: Painful or Helpful?

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