Plastic Surgery Research Council
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Presenter: Jugpal S Arneja, MD, MBA
Co-Authors: McInnes CW; Carr NJ; Lennox P; Petersen R; Skarlicki D
BC Childrens Hospital University of British Columbia

PURPOSE: Effective leadership is imperative in a changing healthcare landscape driven by increasing expectations in a setting of rising fiscal pressures. As evidence suggests that leadership abilities are not simply innate, but rather effective leadership can be learned, it is prudent for plastic surgeons to evaluate the training and challenges of their leaders, as there may be opportunities for further support. This study investigates the practice profiles, education/training, responsibilities and challenges of leaders within academic plastic surgery.

METHODS: Following ethics approval, an anonymous online survey was sent to division heads and program directors from all university-affiliated plastic surgery divisions/departments. Question themes included demographics, education/training, job responsibilities, and challenges.

RESULTS: A 74% response rate was achieved. The majority of respondents were male (94%), promoted to their current position at a mean of 48 years, did not have a leadership focused degree (88%), directly manage 30 people (14 staff, 16 faculty), and were not provided with a job description (65%). Respondents work an average of 65 hours per week of which 18% was on their leadership role, 59% clinically, and the remainder on teaching, and research. A delta existed between time spent on their leadership role (18%) and related compensation (10%). Time management (50%) and managing conflict (25%) were described as the greatest daily challenges by respondents.

CONCLUSIONS: Several gaps were identified including gender imbalance, lack of formal leadership training and requisite skill set, compensation, and human resources management (emotional inteligence). Leadership and managerial and skills are key core competencies not only for trainees, but certainly for those in a position of leadership, and this study provides evidence that academic departments may benefit by re-evaluating how they train, promote and support their leaders in plastic surgery.

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