Exploring developmental assignments shaping experience-driven acquisition of leadership competencies in young clinicians

BMC Med Educ. 2022 Jun 28;22(1):505. doi: 10.1186/s12909-022-03544-y.


Background: Experiential leadership development is well documented in the corporate sector, but those models cannot be applied as is, in the healthcare domain. The current study proposes a framework for the healthcare sector to enable experiential leadership development for young clinicians. The authors identify developmental assignments (DAs) and explore those characteristics [developmental assignment characteristics; DACs] therein that help develop leadership competencies in young clinicians.

Methods: As part of a qualitative exploratory study in Pakistan, the authors conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with senior clinicians in leadership positions with post-graduate residents under their supervision from different medical specialties. The participants were selected through purposive sampling, ensuring a maximum variation sample. Focusing on participants' experiences and perspectives related to experience-driven leadership development, the authors used a multi-level theoretical framework for analysis.

Results: The thematic analysis resulted in 19 subthemes with four overarching themes for both objectives. The authors categorized the developmental assignments (DAs) into clinical, academic, and administrative assignments. These assignments can be utilized for leadership development by ensuring that they have the requisite characteristics built into their context and structure. These developmental assignment characteristics (DACs) can range from learner-driven to supervisor-driven. The learner-driven characteristics include autonomy, high levels of responsibilities, unfamiliar assignments, working across boundaries, managing diversity, making a commitment, and creating change. The supervisor-driven characteristics include briefing, debriefing, accountability, and learner-assignment matching. The authors also developed a learner-assignment matching (LAM) framework to guide supervisors in customizing and adjusting the level of each DAC in a DA.

Conclusion: A modern healthcare educational system can utilize studies like this to enable supervisors to develop required leadership skills in young clinicians along with clinical skills.

Keywords: Developmental assignments; Experience-driven leadership development; Medical education; Qualitative research; Young clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Pakistan
  • Qualitative Research