Rebecca Bridger on why we have not got better at incorporating leadership into medical careers

                                                                               Sponsored comment from Hunter Healthcare

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Rebecca Bridger

Rebecca Bridger cropped

We have come across many clinicians who excel in their careers. They dedicate time to honing their skills, ensuring they keep up to date with the latest research and making the effort to attend conferences to meet peers. They are well known within their trusts and often nationally for their practice.

However, a considerably smaller number is acknowledged for their leadership. We seem to have got ourselves into a position where, within a consultants’ job plan, it doesn’t explicitly require leadership development.

When a consultant does take on the role of leader it is a token gesture – a role they choose to play should the opportunity present itself – rather than a requirement of their job. In some cases it may even be a needless distraction from clinical practice.

Rarely acknowledged and hardly ever rewarded, leadership development is not part of being a good clinician. Perhaps the answer is simply because leadership is not considered as integral to the job, but something you can choose to opt into whenever convenient.

For most, understandably, their clinical practice is their primary concern and if leadership hasn’t worked out then it is simply dropped and they can safely return to clinical practice.

The upshot is most trusts are missing out on the ideas and voices of those who experience the frontline effects of any innovation. This cannot be good for the future of medical leadership and it has already been recognised as a failure within the system.

Given that we know where the problem lies, the question remains: why haven’t we got better at planning leadership and incorporating it into medical careers?

Being a leader within an organisation does not happen simply when you achieve the title but far in advance and throughout a career. Leadership should be recognised and rewarded as much as clinical expertise because surely the benefits to our organisations are felt just as strongly.

Rebecca Bridger is associate partner and head of clinical search, Hunter Healthcare