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Doctors who become medical managers - black sheep, chameleon or traitor?

29-November-2012 0:00
in General
by Dr. Megan Joffe

Moving away from a purely clinical role to take on the role of medical manager presents considerable challenges for doctors as it might do for most others in highly professional occupations.  All professions are occupations but not all occupations are professions using the basic criteria that professions are those based on a specific body of knowledge, where expertise rather than position is the source of power; where they are largely self-regulated and loyal to a professional code rather than an organisational code of ethics (cf Real & Putnam, 2005; Dawson, 1994; Raelin, 1985; Hunter, 1984).  In contrast, although management is increasingly being professionalised, admission remains open to anyone with experience rather than necessarily training or education; control is via organisational policies and where loyalty is to the organisation. 


With the advent of clinical commissioning groups and the focus on doctors as the decision makers and leaders of the health service the pressure on doctors to demonstrate leadership and management is increasing.  How does it feel then to be a clinician belonging to a powerful and privileged group with a strong and stable identity who can be seen to “change sides” and  identify with management – a group not often seen in the best light by your colleagues?  Do you feel like a black sheep belonging in neither group? Or are you a chameleon who can identify with both and be seen to identify with both without compromising the other?  Or are you branded a traitor?  In an article entitled The problem of identity in hybrid managers – who are medical directors? Click here to access - I outline the results of research undertaken with 20 Medical Directors to explore what their identity is and how that was effected by their role as a medical director.


Read this to facilitate your own thinking on how will you deal with this transition – and how you might manage the challenges and criticisms  that you are a black sheep, a chameleon or a traitor?

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