Physician leadership, irrespective of hierarchy, is an integral part of delivering complex modern-day healthcare which thrives on quality improvement and efficiency savings. Doctors’ participation in Medical Leadership however remains fragmented and patchy as has been their leadership training. Absence of empirical research in designing strategies to engage and motivate doctors and validated leadership qualities assessment instruments may have compounded the problem further.Methods
This national study, facilitated by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the UK (FOM), explored factors that motivate the UK-based Occupational Medicine Physicians (OHPs) to engage in leadership roles alongside assessment of their leadership competency and training needs by framing an inquiry within Self-Determination Theory using the 7 domain National Health Service Leadership Academy self-assessment tools on a web-based platform. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics and simple inferential methods.Results
25% (250/1000) of the UK-based FOM (n=1000) members participated. OHPs were open about reporting their leadership strengths (mean score; 4.26/8 across 7 domains; highest in personal qualities; 5.77/8 and lowest in Creating the Vision; 2.73/8). Irrespective of personal level of competency, they universally recognised the need for life-long leadership training. Experience of management role (6 domains; p<0.05) was identified as the single most influencing factor behind a doctor’s confidence. In multivariate regression, management experience accounted for the usefulness of leadership training, suggesting that doctors learn best through applied ‘leadership learning’ as opposed to theory-driven programmes.Conclusions
Drawing on Self-Determination Theory this study provides a theoretical framework for engaging doctors in Medical Leadership; assessing their leadership competency and learning needs and setting up reliable leadership training programmes. Doctors’ ability to reliably determine their learning needs and the invaluable role of hands-on leadership/management experience in boosting doctors’ leadership confidence, calls for more personalised and relevant learning plan that can build on their previous experience and expertise.