Clinical Leaders – Are you open to external review?

Clinical Leaders – Are you open to external review?

External influence – networking

The Duckett Report “Targeting Zero” which was triggered by a series of clinical events in a Victoria hospital emphasised how critical it is to have external review to assure that the informaiton, practices and assumotions that form the basis for care is best practice.


Given that information and evidence is growing at an exponential rate, it is safe to assume that one team, clinician or manager cannot remain current unless they are accessing new ideas, new information, evidence and new perspectives from outside as much as possible.  But it is a really challenge.  Managers and clinicians are so busy doing the work that they can’t find time to stop and reflect on whether the work they are doing is effective or even still relelvant.  Time gets away from you and before you know it, it is 10 years down the track and you are still practicing or managing in exactly the same way as you did way back when….


This is not OK – it leads to a very insular view of the world and even parochialism, which as we have seen can result in catastrophic outcomes for patients, staff and healthcare organisations.


I am convinced that this applies as much to managers as it does to clinicians.  I have noticed that the nursing leaders who are the most progressive, and make the greatest impression and impact in their organisations and the system, are the ones that get out and build supportive networks that extend well beyond their friendship groups and their organisations.  Nursing executives have formed powerful groups that meet regularly at regional, state and now the national levels.  Ideally, these networks provide a safe space for them to express their vulnerabilities: test their thinking, discuss issues and find alternative solutions and strategies to the big challenges they face.

Benefiting from external review

When nursing leaders do not have these networks, or are discouraged from accessing them, they struggle to keep up with the times and continue to grow as leaders.  These forums and networks provide an opportunity for ‘external review’ for nursing leaders – a source of external information and scrutiny to challenge their thinking.  This helps them to challenge the status quo in their own organisations and ensure it is reflecting the changes in their operating environment.


The nursing leaders least likely to have the opportunity to ‘get out’ and network beyond their units or organisations are unit managers. Despite being the largest group of nursing leaders, these people often feel isolated and feel that they have to struggle on their own.   Nurse leaders at this level have the most direct impact on the clinical practice in their teams, the safety and quality of the care delivered – so if anyone needs access to external review and sources of information – they do.


The most consistent feedback we receive from unit managers who attend our ‘Clinician to Manager Acceleration Program’ is how much they valued connecting with other unit managers and sharing their stories and their ideas, getting new ideas and strategies to implement in their teams.  These people tend to keep in touch well beyond the program, forming informal networks and friendships.  This is one of the outcomes of our C2M Acceleration Program we are really proud to promote. Healthcare organisations would do well to create these opportunities for their unit managers.


So…as a leader:

  • What opportunities are you taking to ‘get out’ and bring in new ideas, challenge your thinking and status quo?
  • How much time do you give to this?  Or, are you so consumed by the ‘doing’ that you are not spending time on ‘reflecting’ whether you are doing it right, or whether it needs to be done at all?
  • Are you open to external review? Where do you access this from?
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