Why do doctors need leadership skills?
The path to becoming a doctor is a difficult one - it takes perseverance and discipline. A lot of skills are needed to become a doctor including communication, leadership, and decision-making skills.
Leadership is one of the most important skills for a doctor, as it allows them to provide the best possible care for a patient, whilst also teaching the next generation of doctors, imparting in them confidence and knowledge.
How essential are leadership skills for doctors?
They are one of the most important skills a doctor can possess. Leadership is critical for clinical performance and better patient outcomes. Part of being a good leader is making decisions based on the best interest of the patient, setting directions, and helping colleagues to follow them. As a student and Junior Doctor, you will more often than not be following the lead of more senior doctors, but as you progress in your medical year, you will be expected to step up as the leader, and so these skills are essential in your career development.
What does leadership mean for doctors?
Leadership for doctors is more than just making decisions. Strong communication skills with both patients and staff is the first good leadership quality. Communication plays a part in the diagnosis, liaising with the team to provide treatment, and helping the patient get an understanding of why you have decided on that treatment and how it will affect them.
Your ability to evolve and develop within your role is also a key component of leadership skills for doctors. Medicine is ever-changing and there are always new treatments getting discovered and better ways to care for patients. If you can learn, adapt, and implement, this will make you a strong leader.
Leadership for doctors also differs from leadership in other workplaces as often doctors are making life or death decisions. It's important that they are decisive in their care and put the patient first. A doctor shouldn't be afraid to speak up or question the decisions made by those around them if they feel it will benefit the patient.
How to develop your leadership skills
During your studies and junior years, you should have had ample opportunity to develop your leadership skills. If you feel as though your leadership skills aren't quite as strong as what you feel they should be, you can try
- Becoming a committee member
- Shadowing a more senior doctor
- Taking an online course in leadership
- Reading a leadership book
- Getting involved in a teaching activity (in or out of work)
- Asking for feedback from anyone you've worked alongside or lead