Being a chief medical officer

Interview with Marianne Kastrup


Main theme: Leadership

 

Having a clinical background may be an advantage in the work as CMO. Interview with Marianne Kastrup about the changing role of a medical leadership.



How do you experience the step from a clinical consultant to becoming a chief medical officer?

Previously I was focusing on the patient as an individual seeing the situation so to speak through the patient’s lens, now I have moved the focus to populations, but I still retain a humility towards the complexity of the task that I have to fulfill together with others. I think that in my present position I need to see the situation from a global perspective.


When taking on the challenge as a CMO you have be able to lift yourself from the single case to get the overall perspective.


Do you see that the role as a CMO has changed?


Today we are faced with different conditions as the number of patients with mental disorders seeking treatment are increasing – in the capital region by 27% - but not with a parallel increase in the allocated resources which means that you have to manage in a situation where you try to fight for the best possible solution.


As a CMO you must accept that you may not always provide the optimal solution and endure that you manage with the best possible and defend that. I find it also important to consider not just my own region but take an overall perspective (e.g. in relation to number of specialists) and support solutions that may prioritize other regions. It is of utmost importance that your ego can accept that you do not win all battles and also that you are capable of distinguishing professional and personal criticism.


It is well recognized that psychiatric disorders are very complex disorders requiring a multitude of interventions which need to be faced in the forum of leaders.


In a survey by the Danish Medical association many doctors replied that they experienced being allocated more and more administrative tasks. But it is important to distinguish administrative tasks of a purely practical kind (e.g. finding files) to tasks where strategies are developed and where medical input may have decisive importance.


In a survey by the Danish Medical association many doctors replied that they experienced being allocated more and more administrative tasks. Image by Unsplash.
In a survey by the Danish Medical association many doctors replied that they experienced being allocated more and more administrative tasks. Image by Unsplash.

Do you see advantages in organisations choosing medical leadership?


I believe that having a medical background has a number of advantages and that medical leadership deserves to be promoted. First, as a person with long clinical experience you are well equipped to set realistic goals. You are also well aware of what are the core tasks and I postulate that with that background you may be less prone to exert strong control but allow more autonomy of your consultants. I also think that as a clinician you may be more realistic vis-à-vis the clinical reality. The British researcher Amanda Goodall who is a reader in medical leadership emphasizes that it is an advantage to be led by someone with professional knowledge in the field and mentions that at the Mayo Clinic in the US departments with medical leaders scored higher than those with purely administrative leaders. One reason being that you have a focus on what is essential for the patient even if you as a CMO have a population focus. Furthermore, as a medical leader it may be easier to create better, more sustainable relations when talking to colleagues as you yourself have been in similar situations.


Do you have any advice to give younger colleagues?


You have to choose your battles carefully. It is also significant that you are not too perfectionistic and tolerate that not everyone has your standards. It is certainly also an advantage if you have a well developed sense of humor, and self-irony not taking yourself too seriously. Such traits may help you to avoid becoming irritable and experiencing signs of burn-out. I also believe that it is a clear advantage having research experience – having worked so to speak with trial-and- error you understand the challenges medical researchers are confronted with and may be more wiling to accept an innovative approach opening new horizons. Finally, some may have an inborn talent for leadership or a keen interest which may pave the way which I welcome. □