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Opening up Medicine Doctors and Leadership 2.0

For quite some time, medical expertise alone has no longer been enough for doctors to provide top-quality care. Medical Leadership 2.0, or ML 2.0, is a new and comprehensive concept that will help physicians contribute in meaningful ways to the current far-reaching changes in healthcare. Physician and UT PhD candidate Wouter Keijser explains: “Medical professionals are preparing for large-scale changes in healthcare. In my dissertation I provide strategic tools for policymakers and healthcare administrators to support medical professionals in this process. The thesis also includes guidelines for medical leadership training and coaching programmes that will allow doctors to make even more meaningful contributions to the mission and culture of the organisations and regions in which they practice.” 

In his dissertation, Keijser has incorporated an example of how a training and coaching programme could result in a significant practical improvement of the organisational culture and patient safety in a cardiac surgery department. Keijser continues: “Changes and the potential leadership role that doctors could play in the 21st century require certain non-clinical competences that they would need and want to add to their repertoire, for example in the area of teamwork, cooperation in networks, healthcare innovation and improvement, but also contributions to social issues. The ability to self-reflect and the acquisition of soft skills are already benefiting medical doctors on a personal level, but these new skills can help them contribute to improved team cohesion and greater innovative capacity within healthcare organisations and the entire region. These improvements will ultimately lead to great benefits for patients.” 

Medical Leadership 2.0

Keijser explains that research has shown that ML 2.0 is mainly about cooperation skills. Many doctors are already using their clinical expertise to increasingly work in efficient and co-creative ways with colleagues and non-medical professionals to improve healthcare processes and boost innovation. Medical leadership creates more focus and motivation, so physicians are able to manoeuvre between shared leadership, cooperative leadership and leadership with a focus on co-creativity. Doctors should not feel discouraged by the efforts associated with becoming more skilled in these areas, because medical leadership programmes – provided these are well-prepared and properly taught – will ultimately save them time and result in other benefits as well. 

Starting points for policymakers

Keijser argues that this study into expanding the non-medical aspects of the identity of doctors also provides managers, administrators and supervisors with useful starting points to consider how best to facilitate their medical staff and contribute to the transformation of and between healthcare organisations.

International embedding

The Medical Leadership Competences Framework created by Keijser c.s. in cooperation with the Royal Dutch Medical Association, the Medical Leadership Platform foundation and the Change Management & Organisational Behaviour department at the University of Twente, is now also properly embedded in the international development of ML 2.0, and in Keijser’s dissertation.

About Wouter Keijser

Early on in his medical training and later on, while working on eHealth development and governance in healthcare, Wouter Keijser (born 1967) wondered about typical interprofessional behaviours and customs, in particular relating the role of medical doctors. For the purpose of quality improvement in healthcare, innovation, interdisciplinary teamwork and effective organisational cultures in practice, the research question in his dissertation is the following: How (if possible) can medical leadership contribute to the transformation of healthcare? Wouter Keijser is a PhD candidate at the department of Change Management & Organisational Behaviour, Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences. He will be awarded his PhD on 13 December at 10.30 at the University of Twente’s Waaier 4 building. His PhD supervisor is Professor dr. C.P.M. Wilderom. Keijser is a part-time lecturer and researcher at the University of Twente (teaching the BSc Honours Programme among others) and also works as an executive coach and strategic advisor for healthcare organisations, partnerships and government organisations both in the Netherlands and abroad.