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28 May 2021
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Realising the value of research for leadership

FMLM Chief Operating Officer and Research Lead

The purpose of research is to seek out and gather evidence to contribute to knowledge and inform action. But this process is not helped by a lack of awareness of opportunities to participate in research, follow up research findings, and the often-slow transition of research into practice.

In terms of medical leadership, evidence is a critical driver in demonstrating its importance, including the impact and the outcomes it elicits, but research evidence alone does not help individuals to become better, more effective leaders. It is essential, therefore, to draw on research evidence which can point swiftly to practical applications to improve the way healthcare professionals are prepared, supported and progress into leadership roles.

FMLM’s research strategy was launched in 2020. Since then, FMLM has established its own research networks and is committed to the importance of research and research evidence in pursuit of the Faculty’s primary objective, to improve care for patients through the development and support of good medical leadership.

A key element of this is FMLM’s jointly owned journal, BMJ Leader, which is helping to support the growth and distribution of leadership research. Since it was first published in 2017, the journal itself has grown in stature and influence and is increasingly resonating with medical leaders and academics across the world.

At Leaders in Healthcare conference last November – and with the curatorial support of BMJ Leader – we delivered a comprehensive collection of clinical leadership research for the international healthcare audience. We aim to build on this for the conference in November 2021.

Just prior to the conference last year, FMLM in partnership with the Business School, City, University of London, launched a UK medical leadership survey to understand more about doctors’ interests in and motivations for leadership. The aim was – and still is – to use the findings to understand doctors’ views and experience of leadership, to help on a personal-professional level as well as help organisation leaders and providers of education and training to design appropriate development programmes and interventions. However, the timing of this research (which was supported by the Academy and other medical royal colleges) which coincided with the increase in Covid-19 infections and worsening conditions for healthcare providers throughout the autumn and winter months, led to low levels of participation and response rates. We are now returning to this research and hope conditions allow for greater engagement to support this work.

We will shortly begin research into the specific role of secondary care medical directors and chief medical officers with Board-level responsibilities, to understand their experiences and provide insights into current levels and expectations of support. More on that, soon.

Your participation in current and upcoming research is warmly invited, as is your support and encouragement of colleagues to engage in research opportunities generally. We commend the increasing range of research and comment published in BMJ Leader and hope you will read the latest contributions (all freely accessible for FMLM members) and follow the new research page on the FMLM website.

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