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The Future of Clinical Leadership: The Critical Role of Front-Line Doctors

Nigam, A. & Gao, M. (2017). The Future of Clinical Leadership: The Critical Role of Front-Line Doctors. BMJ Leader, 1(4), pp. 33-35. doi: 10.1136/leader-2017-000021


While people usually associate leadership with people with formal authority over organizations, front-line doctors play critical leadership roles today. We survey empirical studies in top management journals that speak to the role of front-line doctors in the implementation of service improvement initiatives. Front-line doctors can both drive and block change from within their organizations. In addition, doctors play critical roles in leading across professional groups, coordinating the input and work of different professionals. The leadership roles of front line doctors can impact whether and how health systems improve and learn, and how they perform. Harnessing the productive leadership potential of front-line doctors today is critical to creating a high performing, sustainable health care system.

What are the new findings?
•Generates knowledge of how front-line doctors play leadership roles in health care organizations
•Highlights two leadership roles that front-line doctors play: driving and blocking organizational changes, and playing roles as leaders across professional groups in the context of service improvement initiatives
•Offers suggestions backed by qualitative research of how people in formal leadership roles and front-line doctors themselves can harness the leadership potential of front-line doctors to improve health care organizations

How might it impact on clinical practice in the near future?
•By offering suggestions of how the leadership potential of front-line doctors can be harnessed, it has the potential to enable or inspire doctors to make changes in their organizations that can positively impact clinical practice

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by BMJ 2017.
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Accepted Version
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