Developing leadership skills in young ophthalmologists

Catherine Green, Alp Atik, Margaret Hay

Abstract

In a rapidly changing world, there is an increased need to cultivate ophthalmologists who are not only technically capable but also possess the leadership skills required to be at the forefront of change. Ophthalmologists make daily frontline decisions that determine the quality and efficiency of care based on their leadership qualities. However, they also educate, advocate, perform research, run departments and work in practices—all of which require the practice of effective leadership. Although the need for ophthalmic leadership has been recognised, few training programs offer leadership skills as a component of their core curricula, focussing on clinical knowledge with less emphasis on teaching of non-clinical professional competencies. Clinicians who participate in leadership development are more likely to feel empowered to provide patient-centred care, develop a greater self-awareness and confidence to initiate positive change and promote better team alignment. In turn, the ophthalmic profession collectively benefits from effective leadership as organizations are better run, issues are advocated more globally and challenges are address holistically by ophthalmologists who are not merely technically capable surgeons or researchers, but effective communicators and collaborators. In this paper, we explore the role of leadership in the spheres of healthcare and ophthalmology. We discuss the value of leadership across clinical, educational and organisational levels, with specific emphasis on the current state of development and conclude with a series of recommendations to ensure the continued development of effective ophthalmic leaders into the future.