Intended for healthcare professionals


Teaching doctors in training about management and leadership

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 13 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5672
  1. Stephen Gillam, director, public health teaching
  1. 1School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 2SR, UK
  1. sjg67{at}

New frameworks help but old obstacles hamper progress

Various trends demand ever greater involvement of doctors in management roles. Several factors have changed the ways in which health professionals are monitored, paid, and regulated. These include the expansion and systemisation of medical knowledge, constrained health service budgets, informed users, and changing attitudes towards the professions. Doctors everywhere must be prepared to engage in the continual transformation of the services they provide throughout their career. However, medical training has traditionally emphasised clinical autonomy in decision making and allegiance to professional rather than organisational values. The need to strengthen the training of students and young doctors in management and leadership is therefore widely accepted. The General Medical Council and the royal colleges now emphasise the importance of management related training goals.1 What should be taught and learnt, and how?

“Clinical leadership” takes many forms. Some lead through local innovation; others lead through their professional bodies or through managerial involvement at various levels in the NHS. Successful medical managers are usually experienced clinicians with good “people skills.” They are also strategic thinkers and visionaries who look beyond the boundaries of their own specialty; they exhibit passion and are prepared to take reasonable risks to achieve their goals. Most importantly, …

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