Real-life story - medical leadership
Medical leadership is gaining increased focus within the NHS. Find out more about how you can look for opportunities to develop your leadership skills.
The reality is that most of the people that will help you in achieving goals are happy to be approached and will set time aside to listen to sensible ideas from anyone showing an interest.
Traditionally speaking, management and leadership are viewed as the domain of non-clinicians and handpicked, well-established senior doctors. As a junior coming to terms with clinical life in general, it can be a daunting prospect to attempt to present ideas to the upper echelons of managerial circles and expect to be taken seriously. This becomes even more difficult if you have a sense of managers being ‘faceless’.
Of course this short piece wouldn’t be complete without a word on adding value to your CV. It is seen as increasingly desirable (if not essential) to demonstrate these competencies as we ascend the ranks. Suggesting and implementing changes over and above the obligatory audit cycles we devote ourselves to give selection panelists a real impression of a committed and mature trainee.
An early hurdle is coming to terms with the fact that we are among the best-placed people to identify inefficiencies and to think of solutions. Undergraduates and junior doctors are often inherently creative and natural problem-solvers. These traits are valued and make junior doctors desirable additions to teams and steering groups.
Opportunities to develop strengths in management and leadership present themselves daily. This might be when leading an audit cycle, chairing meetings or delivering presentations, in addition to the fine-tuning of time management and organisational skills that we all do.
The next step is to learn more about the processes involved when you want to effect change. Broadly, this may be self-directed, group-led or through using commercially-available courses. It is invaluable to have an understanding at local level to understand the context of the organisation in which you work and this isn’t made easier with short rotations through departments/hospitals.
To try to streamline this learning process, my colleagues and I worked to set up a series of events at a large north west teaching hospital which we named ‘Meet the Management’.
Our aims were to:
- de-mistify jargon
- put faces to the big management names locally
- provide insight into the role of the board of governors and the board of directors
- encourage interaction between junior doctors and management personnel at various stages of their training
- inject some fun with doctors trying their hands at a ‘Playing Manager’ game
Attendees ranged from senior medical students to senior registrars in the region. Demand for the events is always high and, if it hasn’t been done already, I would strongly encourage anyone to get involved in setting up similar educational events in your area.
Here we are lucky to have the North Western Medical Leadership School (NWMLS) who put on regular workshops and events to foster interest in trainees and develop their ideas. NWMLS builds upon the North West division of BAMMbino – the junior doctor arm of the previous eminent medical leadership organisation, the British Association of Medical Managers. Through the Leadership School, networks have been established and opportunities provided for trainees that possibly would not have been accessible. This has been enormously well received by trainees at all levels and I’m certain there is a place for similar schools in every local education and training board. The NWMLS website has many resources tailored to different levels of training.
For those with a strong background, the Health Foundation supports hundreds of projects nationwide and offers grants to support your ideas for Quality Improvement.
I hope this piece has been thought provoking and that you are left with some new ideas.