Leadership in Medicine

By Dr. Shivani Vakilwala, Medical officer at Global Polyclinic and Pathology Centre

It is assumed that quality healthcare means having only good knowledge of medicine and providing appropriate treatment to patients but what one misses is how important are managerial skills in Medicine.

It is extremely important for a healthcare team to have an efficient Leader who communicates well with the team, takes charge and motivates the team in any given circumstance.

For instance, during the COVID 19 pandemic the Government had to appoint Leaders which could not only provide the best treatment but also make important and tough decisions and be a bridge between the heath givers and health seekers.

Even in a simple situation like giving a patient Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, one needs to have a good team leader who designates roles to each member of the team so that there is no confusion and each one plays their role efficiently at all times.

Image source : http://www.hlc.mohh.com.sg/about-us/one-healthcare-leadership-framework

Unfortunately in the medical career teaching leadership has been ignored as only academics has been glorified. One forgets that being a physician not only requires immense knowledge but also leadership skills with great communication which is ultimately responsible for the overall patient outcome.

Leadership responsibilities include –

  1. Participating in projects and collaborating with fellow doctors to provide better healthcare.
  2. Utilising resources efficiently
  3. Teaching and motivating juniors and other Doctors
  4. Communication is the key
  5. Presence of mind so as to make decisions
  6. Designation of roles
  7. Professionalism, confidence and self awareness

If one can not be a good Leader managing a small clinic also becomes extremely difficult. Not managing a team well means chaos in the clinic leading to poor patient care.

Unfortunately Leadership skills are not given much emphasis in med schools which is currently the need of the hour and there is not much literature on how to incorporate it at the undergraduate level.

We need a well planned curriculum so that it can be taught at an early stage in medicine and doctors then do not face difficulties in any unforeseen situations. Not only can they then lead a big team but also confidently face problem employees and easily resolve conflicts.

Leading a larger multidisciplinary team of nurses, healthcare workers, paramedics means less physician burnout and improved patient outcome and quality healthcare.

Small conferences can be held to teach med students leadership skills, public speaking, and communication simulation sessions. It will give them a new boost of confidence and will encourage them to be better leaders that our healthcare system essentially is in dire need of.

Image source : https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/clinical-meeting-with-business-gm872238006-243640016


  1. Why Doctors Need Leadership Training (hbr.org)
  2. Medical leadership: why it’s important, what is required, and how we develop it | Postgraduate Medical Journal (bmj.com)
  3. Leadership in medicine: where are the leaders? – PubMed (nih.gov)

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