Communicating With Patients

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Communicating with patients

Communicating with patients

Leadership Skill

The unprecedented speed of change in health care delivery is the major factor in the current emphasis on surgical leadership. In the past, the emphasis of surgical leadership was focused almost solely on technical and clinical expertise with minimal consideration given to management skills.

Whilst clinical excellence will always remain an essential attribute for a surgical leader who must affirm the respect of highly skilled, highly intelligent and ambitious colleagues to maintain leadership, new forces in the modern health care marketplace have made it necessary to expand this narrow focus. Doing what was done yesterday, or doing it 5% better, is no longer the formula for success. The leaders of very near tomorrow will need to rely on a broad array of skill sets. They will be learners and teachers, surgeons and managers. They will need to not only adapt to rapid change but preempt and plan for paradigm changes in society.

It may be that rigid surgical structures with strong resistance to change, at the ignorance of “change management” concepts that are being embraced in the business world, are contributing significantly to the more frequent reference in Western media to the “crisis in surgery”. This is often precipitated by reports of increasing waiting lists which persist in many countries, notably the United Kingdom, Nordic countries and Spain, despite a rapid rise in many surgical procedures that is being seen throughout the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development communities . Management and leadership in surgery

In business administration, particularly in large corporations, leadership and management are frequently seen as two distinctive and complementary systems of action . Both of these systems are necessary for success in an increasing complex and volatile business environment. Management is essentially about planning, controlling and putting appropriate structures and systems in place. Leadership—with anticipating change, coping with change, coping with people, and adopting a visionary stance. More change requires more leadership. A modern surgical leader whilst being principally a leader will also be required to fulfil many of the management responsibilities. To accomplish this successfully, they will require comprehensive abilities.

What makes a successful leader?

Great leaders are people who leave their footprints in their areas of passion . They are easy to recognise, but how do we define the qualities of acknowledged leaders? A long history of intensive research has been done on this with prevailing theories pointing to essential character traits, the concept of emotional intelligence, the importance of communication skills, and the power of knowledge.


Leadership traits have been defined by numerous authors. Originally pioneered by the likes of Raymond Cattell, who produced his landmark findings from a study of military leaders in 1954, a core series of accepted character traits has evolved over time to include qualities such as intuition, empathy, charisma and enthusiasm (Table 1).

Table 1  Core character traits of successful leaders

High energy

Long hours and some travel are common in leadership positions, especially with company growth. Remaining alert and staying focused are two of the greatest obstacles you ...
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