The Physician-Leader: An Analysis

One of the most important groups of people in today’s society is the doctor. “Doctors take care of the most important people in your life (Kush, 2009, p. 6). ” While they generally help in making modern life and health better, the truth is that more should be expected from them. Besides their role to help in health related problems, they should also be good leaders. Leadership is important for them to be able to accomplish their roles in the hospital as well as in the society. The doctor should be a good leader.

This requires the consciousness regarding the need for training as well as the need for adhering to particular personal characteristics, moral and ethical values to become leader, and above all, to understand the impact of being a good leader and a doctor at the same time. II. Discussion A. The importance of leadership skills and use of effective leadership by doctors Amongst the many different jobs and profession that humans have pursued, being a doctor is one of the few jobs wherein the life of another human being is literally and figuratively in their hands.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

Doctors are among the professionals expected to be good leaders (Salacuse, 2006, p. 139). Such is the sensitive and complex nature of the job of being a doctor. That is why, it is important that doctors are trained as leaders, leaders who are capable of managing, organizing and overseeing the performance of a collection of doctors, and leaders who are in control of their own abilities and work. Saving lives is not just about being knowledgeable in treating patients.

It is about the ability of the doctor for a sense of direction in undertaking tasks as simple as making routine patient check up or those as complex as managing an operating room full of doctors and nurses. This can only be achieved by the individual if the doctor has the ability for leadership. Doctors working in hospitals often face similar work conditions and situations. These provide the setting in measuring, discussing and analyzing the importance of leadership skills in a doctor.

The level of leadership skills and abilities of doctors inside the hospital can determine how issues like emergency room management, team management and everyday problem solving concerns are handled by superiors and subordinates alike. i. Managing emergency situation – Patients who are under the care of a doctor and are confined inside hospitals possess the threat of becoming volatile constantly. Even with today’s modern knowledge and practice in medicine, it is still not surprising that doctors encounter surprising medical conditions of patients, contrary to what they expect in lieu of their earlier diagnosis.

This is one source of emergency inside the hospital; blood pressure suddenly rising, patient suddenly unable to breathe, unexpected bleeding, loss of consciousness or motor reflex, etc. The scenario could be limitless, and because of this, it is important that the doctors inside hospitals can rely on the leadership abilities of not just a select few doctors but all of them because at the very least, the doctor himself or herself should be able to rely on his/her own sense of leadership to motivate himself/herself to work, and work properly, competently and wisely.

The medical condition of human beings can be a puzzle most of the time. There are many different paths towards the perceived solution, but how should doctors go about accomplishing it? What decision making paradigms should be set to assist in the coming to a conclusion? The day-to-day emergency situations among confined patients are exacerbated by another intense component of hospital life: emergency room and the emergency room cases. Everyday, people come in here from private cars or ambulances looking for doctors who can immediately attend to their health and medical condition.

Sure, there are accepted structural approaches to this aspect of hospital life, but that does not guarantee that the work is effectively done, especially if the quality of leadership skills found among doctors supervising these functions are poor or below par. In the end, it boils down to leadership qualities present among doctors. The emergency room scenarios and handling emergency medical cases among confined patients is something that doctors should face everyday.

These problems can only be sufficiently resolved if the doctors in charge are proven able leaders. If the high level of leadership is present, it is highly possible that problems are resolved efficiently with the best possible result. Without leadership, the life of the patient is placed in a perilous condition, opening many doors for errors, mistakes, oversight, incompetence etc. Tipping the balance towards life saved versus life lost is strongly dictated by a certain force known as leadership factor.

Leadership is about using the strengths of yourself, your people, your equipment, and your knowledge in a positive way that the best possible option and outcome is pursued with very high chances of success. Without leadership, there is a tendency for mismanagement which in turn can result to many undesirable outcomes; the worst possibly is the death of the patient in the emergency room or in the emergency situation. Doctors cannot run away from emergency situations and emergency rooms so long as they practice their profession.

They are faced with that task for most part of their time on duty and considering the importance of leadership to be successful in this aspect. It is not surprising that doctors should be trained as leaders so that they have the sufficient skills set to handle people, handle situations and handle problems in the most ideal manner possible. ii. Managing the team – To manage teams and people is not easy. This will demand a lot from the doctor leader. “Managing people relies upon many foundations of leadership (Williams, Flanders, Whitcomb, 2007, p.

919). ” This is why doctors should undergo the constant training of becoming good leaders because they are exposed to the task of managing people and teams most of the time. The conflict faced by doctors is not just about saving lives and juggling the tools at hand to accomplish this goal in every single moment. Besides attending to their patients, doctors also have to attend to the dynamics of doctor-to-doctor relationship. Again, this requires leadership: both inward leadership and outward leadership.

This is important because doctors in general are considered as de facto leaders in the workplace. “The physician is commonly the unquestioned leader of the team (Drinka, Clark, 2000, p. 57). ” Inward leadership pertains to a person’s ability to be able to act as a leader for himself or herself. This is reflected by the presence of initiative, being able to become someone who easily falls in line and follow the directions of the leader while at the same time remaining vigilant, knowing when and how to step up if and when necessary.

Outward leadership, on the other hand, is the ability to show genuine leadership, not feigned or fake leadership. Outward leadership means that the person leads his or her followers because the leader has galvanized his position through his actions and ideas. Outward leadership starts with openly accepting the mantle of leadership without hesitation or doubt. Outward leadership exudes confidence, direction, common sense, control and a sense of purpose. These two types of leadership come into play in how leadership plays an important role in managing teams inside the hospital.

Doctors are human beings who are still vulnerable to causes and sources of interpersonal friction like misunderstanding, jealousy, etc. Doctors should be leaders – inward and outward – if these problems in team management are to be resolved. Appointed leaders should be able to handle this situation in the best possible manner. Subordinates can utilize their own sense of leadership by acting as good team members and doing their part in resolving issues in such a way that it is not detrimental to the hospital, to the patient and to the doctors.

Teams created because of different conditions (i. e. shift scheduling, teams handling operations, and other task-related teams) put people inside groups they are all expected to act as good members while the appointed leader is expected to be a good leader. The appointed leader can only claim being a good leader if he or she manages the team well, if the indicators for poor team harmony is not present and if the occurrence of problems inside the team is controlled and minimized, or better, completely removed.

Without leadership and the absence of leadership skills among doctors, these teams can fall into chaos that can bring problems to the team, to other teams and to the entire institution all in all. Collapse towards chaotic and disorganized handling of teams inside the hospital is tantamount to endangering the lives of the patients and the credibility of the medical institution the doctors are working for. For this not to happen, much depends on the ability of doctors to undertake the role of leaders in the workplace, thus necessitating the importance of doctors being equipped and capable leaders as well.

Whether or not they become actual effective suitable leaders, on the other hand, is a different discussion altogether. However, the good leader working the team must remember that the essential aspect of leadership is making the team members know their worth so that they can appreciate themselves and be inspired to contribute to the team (Zaccagnini, White, 2010, p. 251). iii. Handling other work-related problems – Doctors in the workplace are not just expected to cure patients because they are also expected to perform other functions. First, doctors are also managers who handle people and problems in the workplace.

Because of this, it is important that doctors possess leadership skills. Problems stemming from different sources – legal, public relations, internal and external relationships, problems with suppliers etc fall on the shoulders of doctor leaders. Of course, not everyone is elevated in this position in one time. However, it is important that the chain of command and authority inside the hospital rests on the shoulders of doctors who have leadership abilities so that they can take over if and when their immediate superior becomes incapable of performing his or her leadership-related tasks.

Without leadership abilities, hospitals relying on selected doctors to perform leader roles are in danger of being seriously crippled if and when those doctor-leaders become unavailable to them. If the hospital features doctors who all have leadership potential, then this is not a problem. There are many candidates that can replace previous doctor leaders who can handle the possible problems that the hospital and the doctor would face. B. Medical leadership: Training doctors to become leaders

Like in any other cases, the community of doctors features natural leaders as well as those who can be molded into a leader through proper training and guidance. Training a doctor to become a leader comes in many different forms. For example, working closely with a more experienced doctor in an apprentice-like setting allows the younger doctor to learn from the more experienced mentor. Part of what is passed on in mentoring is not just practical and work related skills but also personality traits like those which prepare the doctor to become a suitable and capable leader in the future.

Experience, as they say, is the best teacher. Doctors who may not have the luxury of being mentored by experienced colleagues can use everyday experiences as a form of training, however informal it maybe. Books today discuss the moves of institutions to train doctors to become leaders through organized, systematic approach (Marszalek-Gaucher, Coffey, 1993, p. 206). Of course, one can also resort to participating in workshops and seminars designed particularly to enhance and develop the leadership potential of an individual. More often than not, the most valuable and the most powerful training a doctor can have is work experience.

Here, the doctor faces real life conditions and tries to negotiate and solve every kind of problem facing him or her; he or she is expected to make a mistake every once in a while. It will not be surprising that some of the decisions the doctor will make in certain scenarios will not be met by general acceptance, but this is all part of the training process. If the doctor is able to process these experiences well that the doctor was able to take from this experience lessons that allowed him to become a better leader, then the experience is constructive and beneficial.

Of course, not everyone can be expected to end up like that. Others may process that similar experience in the wrong way. Because of that, their leadership growth is stunted and is not fully realized at all. C. Essential qualities for building the capability for leadership It is highly debatable whether or not it is true that not everyone can be leaders. What can be easily acceptable is that in selecting the leaders, what separates one from the other is the presence of certain characteristics that one possesses and the other still needs to work on.

This means, everyone can be a leader, but the growth towards being a capable leader takes time and requires the development of many other different personality traits. The pacing of individuals in this need for growth is different and varied from one another. What can doctors rely on to help them become competent and capable leaders? Many characteristics can enhance leadership abilities. Some of these characteristics include the following: competence, professionalism, the ability to understand the dynamics of professional-personal life management, the ability for sound decision-making and the ability to become a follower and a listener.

i. Competence – A doctor that can be trained to be a good leader should be competent at all times. This means the ability to perform his or her tasks as a doctor in the best possible manner. A doctor is a specialist. While the doctor is not expected to know everything, he or she is expected to consistently know what he or she is doing, to use the full range of abilities that he or she is equipped with after years of training in school as well as in the workplace. Competence means knowing what should be done, and how to do it.

If the doctor cannot accomplish this, he can never be a good leader, much less a good doctor. ii. Professionalism – Doctors are professionals and they are expected to act as one. Professionals are expected to do the right thing, all the time, even when the true concept of “doing what is right” can be vague, ambiguous and very difficult to understand and explain in case-to-case conditions wherein there are conflicting considerations. It is difficult to weigh which one to choose considering both appears to be right and picking one means not opting for the other right choice.

There are moral as well as ethical and legal parameters that can help the doctor be guided in ascertaining what the right thing is. This can help the doctor develop and maintain his being professional, which in turn is essential in being a good leader. Professionalism is important in decision making as decision making is a key in good leadership. The doctor should be aware of the repercussions in failure to observe this trait. “There are also dangers that follow from failure to pay attention to the particular nature and complexity of moral decision-making (Thompson, Melia, Boyd, 2006, p. 299).

” Leadership is about the pursuit of what is right. If the doctor cannot be professional, that person is very unlikely to be capable of becoming a good leader too. Part of being professional is being able to understand that as a professional, there are things that a doctor can and cannot do for the patient (Kushner, Thomasma, 2001, p. 102). iii. Understanding the dynamics of professional-personal life management – Leadership is a responsibility that demands a lot of things from the individual. This includes the ability to separate professional as well as personal life issues and concerns.

The doctor is a professional inside a workplace wherein he or she is a part of an institution and a practice geared at, primarily, saving lives. This professional agenda and goal should always be of paramount importance and should not come second to personal concerns. The true doctor-leader knows where the line of this boundary is found and adheres to it at all times. Leaders are placed in tough positions and are forced to make tough decisions most of the time, and often, it becomes tough because of personal considerations.

The true leader has the ability to isolate one from the other and to not let personal concerns impact professional work ethics. Personal issues should be left outside and the doctor leader should be the first to promote harmony at work because “patient care quality depends on positive group interaction (Griffin, Moorhead, 2009, p. 225). ” Leaders should know the dynamics of workplace team management to make this happen and work for the patients’ sake and welfare. iv. Ability to decide – Sound decision making abilities is important for the doctor to become a good leader. The doctor should be able to make good decisions, and stick to it.

The work environment, where doctors are immersed in, requires them to make decisions many times, most of the decisions they are faced impact strongly the lives of patients. Sound decision making is important in leadership. The process of decision making reflects the model by which the individual will use if and when that person is made leader. If the doctor has poor decision making skills, it can be reflective of the doctor’s poor leadership abilities. However, if the doctor displays good decision making abilities, it is possible that the doctor also possess the ability to become a good leader. Decisions make or break leaders.

It is the same with the case of doctors. v. Ability to become a follower and a listener – A true leader is first a follower and a listener. A true leader remains a good follower and a good listener. There is no such thing as supreme leader; in the social structure, eventually every leader still answers to someone, or something (i. e. institution, code, moral, etc). The doctor can be a good leader if the doctor knows how to be a follower, how to be a team player. The doctor needs to know how to pull his own weight and contribute, to take part in tasks even if the doctor is already a leader, especially now that the doctor is a leader.

The doctor that listens and hears out what people around him or her say – patients and colleagues among others – has the makings of a good leader, especially if this is followed by the doctor acting on it. In the hospital, work is often high paced, even tense and hectic especially during certain times of the day or certain times of the year. Under these conditions, it is important that what is being transmitted through the communication lines is understood well by the doctor and something that the doctor uses to make good decisions. Inside the hospital, no decision is small decision; every decision is a big, life-and-death decision.

These are just some of the many characteristics. Being a doctor-leader is demanding considering the costs of failure to become one, not to mention the fact that as the world and the society changes; so does the nature and role of the doctor and the importance of the doctor-leader role in the society. “The physician leader’s role becomes more significant and complex (Burton, 1998, p. 16). ” III. Conclusion Being a doctor is a difficult task, equated only by the difficult journey one has to experience to become a doctor in the first place.

While this has been hard, the doctor should not turn away from his or her responsibility not just as a simple doctor, but more importantly, as a leader. Doctors should be leaders. For them to become one, it requires training and experience. The development of personal characteristics and the setting of many foundations and building blocks are a key in the formative progression of doctor as he or she transitions towards becoming the physician leader that the doctor is expected to be, sooner or later in his/her career.

They need this so that they can manage people who work under them in hospitals or in other work environment. The emergency room and other emergency situations in the hospital require the attention of a doctor who is also a leader, someone who can give orders decisively and someone who has a sense of direction. People look to doctors on what to do next, which way to proceed, often unquestioningly because they believe in doctors. For their part, doctors should make sure that the people that trust them have every reason to do so, because they are as good a doctor as they are good leaders. Bibliography

Burton, R 1998, The Physician Leader’s Guide, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Virginia. Drinka, T J K, Clark, Phillip, G 2000, Health care teamwork: interdisciplinary practice and teaching, Greenwood Publishing Group, Connecticut. Griffin, R W & Moorhead, G 2009, Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations. Cengage Learning, Ohio. Kush, B D 2009, Auditing Leadership: The Professional and Leadership Skills You Need, John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey. Kushner, T K & Thomasma, D C 2001 Ward ethics: dilemmas for medical students and doctors in training, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Marszalek-Gaucher, E & Coffey, R J 1993, Total quality in healthcare: from theory to practice, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco. Thompson, I E, Melia, K M & Boyd, K M 2006, Nursing ethics, Elsevier Health Sciences, London. Salacuse, J W 2006, Leading leaders: how to manage smart, talented, rich, and powerful people, AMACOM, New York. Williams, M, Flanders, S A & Whitcomb, W F 2007, Comprehensive hospital medicine: an evidence based approach, Elsevier Health Sciences, Pennsylvania. Zaccagnini, M & White, K 2010, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Jones & Bartlett Learning, London.