Leadership in medicine: where are the leaders?

Dr. Rowan Molnar

There is no doubt that leadership roles are critical in healthcare settings. Despite its importance, many organizations persist with outdated models and do not pay attention to the development of individual leadership skills. The need of the hour is to create leaders that will significantly improve the quality of health care and create effective relationships with other healthcare professionals and system managers. Leaders are also essential to interpret complexity so that they remain well prepared to operate successfully in difficult situations and consistently model ethical behaviour.

Coping with a changing healthcare system

The nature of the medical profession has changed over the decades where leadership roles have evolved as well. External influences such as funding constraints, the demand for great accountability, and the quality and efficacy of healthcare have altered the hierarchies within which physicians practice. The need of the hour is capable leaders in medicine that can influence the rapidly changing dynamic healthcare systems. For the most part, leadership is a social function that extends beyond the aspects of influence, control, and motivation. This is one aspect that Dr. Rowan Molnar, senior specialist anaesthetist with extensive clinical experience in anaesthesia at a tertiary referral hospital level, both in Australia and internationally, focuses on in his effort to develop more leaders in the field of anaesthesia.

A new role for leaders

Many parts of healthcare systems in countries like Australia remain focused on a hierarchical view of leadership as a part of a mechanical view where the command control model, which is power, control and outcomes arise from the division of labour. Many doctors remain in a quandary as to where they fit in, the impact of which flows down to their junior colleagues and medical students. Medical leaders are required to assist in the design and supervision of new models of healthcare systems and play a purposeful role in strengthening governance within hospitals and healthcare systems.

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