The Need for Stronger Leaders in Healthcare
10 May 2018 at 8:42 am
New health leaders are needed more than ever. But how do you become one?
Australia’s largest industry – the healthcare sector, is changing, increasingly disrupted by new technologies and an evolving workforce. Automation is transforming clinical practices from diagnosis through to surgery, and communications technology is changing the ways in which medical staff and patients interact. Funding models continue to shift, as governments pushing further privatisation wrestle with defenders of the besieged public system. More and more practitioners are recognising psychological wellbeing as a fundamental pillar of health, and a renewed interest in holistic health is pushing our models of treatment to new frontiers.
This turbulence can pose considerable challenges, but it also presents incredible opportunities for long-term improvement. As the baby boomers who currently dominate the upper echelons of the health profession retire, the power vacuum they’ll leave behind will provide newer practitioners to lead the field of health in new and exciting directions. New leaders are needed more than ever. But what makes a great health leader? And how do you become one?
Riding the wave
Leaders in the ever-changing world of health will need to be more adaptable than ever. That means applying skills to a wide variety of scenarios, a strong capacity for lateral thinking and a willingness to learn across the entirety of their professional life.
The contours of careers are changing. We all know that the old model of having a single lifelong employer is disappearing, but the extent of the breadth of future career trajectories is only just emerging. The key will be to establish a broad skillset that can be applied across a variety of contexts. This is sometimes called a “T shape” skillset – one with many areas of competence and a few areas of expertise.
Great leadership is about great listening. As care becomes more human-centric, leaders in healthcare will need to possess stronger people skills. Medicine is gradually moving away from strict, top-down chains of command to diverse, integrated teams where a diversity of skills is valued. This means all professionals – nurses, administrators, doctors, and supporting staff – will need to be increasingly consultative.
Gone are the days when bedside manner is an afterthought. As the barriers between clinicians and the people they help are lowered by patient-first models of care, all members of the healthcare industry will need to have deep sense of empathy for clients – even if they don’t deal with them directly.
One area where health leadership is desperately needed is in the developing world. As the world’s population continues to expand, the need for effective, world-class healthcare is greater than ever and this requires bold and dynamic thinking. Those who springboard from Australian to international health leadership will need to do so in a spirit of service, empowering local people to be leaders and be willing to adapt to different cultural and socioeconomic contexts.
Solving health crises in less developed areas and nations also requires out-of-the-box thinking. Medical technologies are desperately needed, but they’re of little use without the serious thought being put into context and implementation. The sector has no shortage of cautionary tales of expensive equipment, such as X-ray machines, being delivered to disadvantaged, remote communities with a shortage of people appropriately trained to use them effectively.
Taking the plunge
Do you have what it takes to help lead the way to a healthier, happier society? An online Master of Healthcare Leadership at Southern Cross University can provide the world-class training and impressive credentials you need to supercharge your career. The two-year course is delivered entirely online, so you can study when and how you like – and still have a dedicated support team at your side.