Ready for leadership
Interview with Ida Maria Ingeholm Klinkby
Competence in leadership and professional skills is important for future psychiatrists. Courses in developing such talents are welcomed.
Do you think that young psychiatrists when finishing their specialization are sufficiently competent to take on leadership positions?
During our specialization we are offered a 3-module course on the organization of health services focusing on organization and leadership. Parts of the course are more theoretical but module 3 focuses on your own personal style. We carry out group work with a focus on leadership styles and are exposed to a personality test.
I enjoy exposure to leadership roles. As child & adolescent psychiatrists, we are not given jour function (bagvagt) during our training before reaching specialization, in contrast with our colleagues in adult psychiatry who are given that role rather early and thereby challenged with leadership decisions in their daily clinical function.
The training in how to take on the leadership role is not very formal, even if you express an interest in having that role. On the other hand, working in an outpatient clinic, the role as team-leader is obvious with ample opportunities to try leadership and see if you feel confident in taking it up.
Are leadership positions attractive or do many avoid them?
I think that it depends upon the individual, but surprisingly it is frequently a taboo to express an open interest in becoming a leader. Few state that openly, whereas many are reluctant if not directly uninterested in taking up such positions.
The president of the Danish Medical Association who clearly has taken this challenge and subsequently been confronted with accusations of sounding too much as a member of the administrative/economic management. You walk on the knife’s edge frequently as a medical leader.
What professions have you encountered as being leaders of psychiatric departments?
In my last position we had an economist as the administrative chief but with 2 psychiatrists as clinical leaders. There may be advantages having an economist as head in light of the many economic, and strategic tasks as long as the clinical leaders with medical expertise have strong positions. I am less in favor of having psychologists chairing units. I have experienced departments where 3 out of 4 team-leaders were specialized psychologists with the result that medical and somatic aspects were not sufficiently focused upon. I find it important to emphasize that medical doctors should have the overall responsibility for the treatment carried out.
I also find it important to stress that it is psychiatric care not mental health care (psykisk helse værn) that is our focus.
Do you see a danger in that core tasks slowly are replaced by other more peripheral tasks?
Yes. In the last issue of the Journal of the Dan Med Ass a psychiatrist described his daily work how he as a consultant only saw one to two patients daily as his schedule was filled with all kinds of other tasks e.g. administrative, educational duties. This may result in that fewer want to enter the specialty as non-medical tasks take up most of the day. I see that as a real threat for the profession.
Do you see any good initiatives?
One region of Denmark offers a course for psychiatric leadership talents, where young psychiatrists expressing an interest and talent for leadership are given the opportunity to become better equipped to take up the role. This is an innovative step to be preferred for already existing courses where participants come from all disciplines but with no medical priority. □