To me, ‘Leadership for the healthcare system’ was an opportunity to accumulate significant experience. The practical work, design and overall content helped me to understand the concept more thoroughly. Throughout the work, I have learnt about the practical application of the module. This learning experience helped me to enhance the boundaries of my knowledge, and subsequently realize that leadership in a contemporary healthcare organization is a tremendous responsibility and a key component in any establishment’s performance. Upon completion of this module, I understood my strengths and areas needing improvement as a learner, leader and nursing professional. I also came to acknowledge that, having devoted some time to honing my skills and mastering my imperfections, I am fit to bear this responsibility.
The level of learning I received from this work motivates me to gather more knowledge, continue to work on this topic and become a better person and professional. From the beginning of the task, I was dedicated to learning more about this subject. I gave my best effort to this module, and worked hard to meet the expectations of my professors. I not only focused on the learning concepts, but also made sure to participate eagerly in different class activities, as well as group projects conducted in the Institute. I emphasised active participation, as I learned that these activities would be helpful in developing my leadership skills in the healthcare system. As per my consent, the course was designed to meet the student’s need, as well as enhancing their utility. I have pondered my learning, and how this section has contributed towards improvement of my leadership qualities, by reflecting upon a variety of theories. In this commentary, I will also mention the aspects of my personality I must improve, so that I can solidify my reputation in the job market. Furthermore, I will specify what did not go well for me in this module, and what I will try to accomplish in the future.
The module helped me to develop awareness about my personality, and encouraged me to develop my proficiency in the field of health care. I must admit that the class activities proved beneficial in gathering pre-experience as a healthcare professional. With the course completed, I believe that the knowledge I managed to accumulate helped me to develop the basis for my career, which I wish to pursue in my homeland. When professional training is coupled with clinical experience, it helps to establish a systematic approach that covers a wide array of situations one can face in the healthcare environment (Berwick & Hackbarth 2012; (Swayne, Duncan & Ginter 2012). Just as some central and peripheral traits of character are attributable to people, value chains are applicable to clinical practice as logical components of leadership (Porter 2010). The primary activities of leadership include arranging resources and managing them, while the peripheral are concerned with outsourcing of services and equipment. These leadership tasks remain fixed over time, just as the leadership traits that are helpful in influencing people. From the course, I realized that the overarching task of leadership – any leadership – is to have a job well done. Previously, I had thought that for this purpose, a leader has to possess some set of attributes or talents that are not given to everybody. The course helped me realize that every person can be a leader. Everyone possesses unique attributes that can put them in a position of leadership; these need only to be discovered, assessed and developed. This course demonstrated just how one can discover the traits that can make them a leader, namely through a range of tests and other practices, which I will further describe.
The 16 Personalities Test is an assessment method used to evaluate each individual’s leadership traits (Edmonstone 2011). The underlying message of this test is that every person has an in-born capability to lead (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch 2011). Through this test, I found myself to possess the INFP personality, or the mediator. Such people are optimistic and, despite their shyness, able to flourish in a harmonious, understanding environment. My strengths, as per this test, include my ability to establish diplomatic contacts, and basing my actions on my principles. My weak side is that people often do not understand me – but then again, when in positive surroundings, I can open up and shine. This experience, particularly, helped me understand some of my leadership traits and acknowledge that I, too, am capable of leading people who might follow my ideational power.
The modes of learning impressed me, because the tutors managed to create a perfect balance of valuable classroom experience, independent research on our own and practical work where the students had to engage with all sorts of people in fluid situations. For example, we were often required to engage in practical work where we had to deal with diverse people in changeable surroundings. A pairing of theory and practical experience remains unquestionably a foundational value of learning and must be encouraged – which the tutors did successfully (Shi & Singh, 2010). The combination of theory and practice showed me how I could start on a small scale with bigger projects in mind, be patient in open discussions and self-contained when I do independent research, work via different media and be an effective communicator.
Specifically, my communication skills were enhanced by the classroom activities. Group activities are also known to facilitate peer learning and assessment (Boud, Cohen & Sampson, 1999, pp. 413-426). It gave me an opportunity to discuss various academic issues, and formed a relaxed environment, which made learning more interesting and easier to grasp. Group-based activities facilitated personal interactions, which I believe harnessed my critical thinking abilities. When we were asked to discuss various case studies or to present in a group, I often found myself leading the group. This increased my self-confidence as a leader. Also, as a result, I was able to discover different management styles practised by others, in addition to conflict management, decision-making and teamwork. Lichtenstein (2005, pp. 341-356) proposes that groups are like teaching communities that can positively affect academic and social outcomes as well as student achievements. They provide me with a venue that allows me to explore myself and my leadership skills. I always tried to observe my friends’ performances so that I could evaluate my own eligibility as well as educate myself. I looked forward to listening to the opinions of my friends and their debates on certain topics, which were helpful in opening windows to new ideas. Such classroom activities actually promoted the communicative approach among us and facilitated ‘joint management of learning.
The classroom activities also allowed us to achieve a fuller comprehension of the practical and theoretical aspects of this study (Porter 2010). These activities prepared a base that helped me to learn about myself. I found that the Johari window illuminated many things that had previously been beyond my knowledge. The Johari window is a technique used to assist people in better understanding their position in relation to others (Currie & Lockett 2011). This type of heuristic technique helped me to discover that I was perceived as a kind, giving, trustworthy, patient and sensible person. Some of these traits were unknown to me, but seen by others. As a leader, one has to pay attention to one’s strong points, and a heuristic technique can aid in a person’s self-acknowledgement. The window helped me gain a fair share of confidence by demonstrating to me some of my strengths as seen by the others. It has helped me to gain confidence and implement procedures to enhance my leadership skills. I discovered that this self-awareness tool is not only helpful in knowing myself in a better way, but also has helped to control the motion of my energies towards a positive direction.
Another aspect that was illuminated in this module was that of emotional experiences, of which I had never been fully aware. This module helped me to deal with and manage the clinical concept of ‘transference.’ Transference can be defined as the incidents that take place every day in social interaction. In healthcare, where the human factor is a point to consider, some professionals cannot refrain from treating their patients subjectively, based on some of their biases and emotions. Before the module, I had been aware that such a problem may arise, because at times it can be difficult to develop an entirely non-judgmental attitude. However, I had hardly thought transference might lead to adverse effects in patients (Slavkin 2010). This aspect of the course, therefore, helped me realize the importance of not redirecting my feelings onto the patients, based on my previous experiences, and of developing a holistic approach to every person I encounter.
‘Interaction’ was the platform that the module offered, and this was facilitated through group activities. Group activities are found to facilitate assessment as well as peer learning. They provided an opportunity to discuss different academic issues, and also helped in the formation of a ‘relaxed environment’ that made the learning more interesting and easier to grasp. It was also observed that group-based activities enhanced ‘inter-personal interactions’ that tied together my ability and capacity to think critically (De Souza & Pidd 2011). In most of the cases, when I gave a group presentation or discussed different case studies, I found myself in the position of leader of the group. The fact that I was sometimes chosen as a leader can be explained by my leadership personality as specified in the 16Personalities Test: I am, by nature, a mediator and a conflict-solver, always searching for positive aspects in every situation. Additionally, my peers assessed me as a kind and trustworthy person. The interaction helped me discover that I possess certain traits that are valued by the people I work with – which increased my confidence as a leader. In addition, I explored different management styles that are practised by others, such as decision making, conflict management and teamwork. Many researchers have shown that groups can be considered as ‘learning communities’ that can have a direct impact on the student’s achievement as well as social and academic outcomes (Best et al. 2012). The researchers also proposed that group-based activities can enhance internationally achieved and shared cognition (Kakuma et al. 2011).
The learning modes shown in the module also captivated me. The experience I gathered from this module was amazing. For instance, our teachers always encouraged us in our practical courses, where we were subjected to dealing with various people in different situations, and this practical, hands-on experience alternated with discussion and reflection. Real-life examples helped me clear away some of my preconceived ideas about the process of learning and practice, and shed my overly intuitive thinking. Armed with theory, I found I was capable of more than making uneducated guesses, and could quite satisfyingly work my way through problem after problem. By successfully combining a firm theoretical base and examples, the course showed how I could apply knowledge to practice and further evaluate it through reflection. Reflecting on the process of learning helps me acknowledge my accomplishments, make notes to self and enlist points for future improvement. I also find myself fully engaged in the learning process, which, I suppose, is the primary aim of the tutors. Finally, when I reflect on what I have accomplished, it helps me to see the meaning in what I do – which is priceless.
When I look back, I find myself satisfied – in fact, overwhelmed – with the module structure and the help from the organisation. In this module, the significance of leadership was highlighted. On a related note, I became eligible to assess myself in a different context. This module helped me to point out not only my strengths but also my weaknesses. I have discovered that my strengths lie in my altruism, creative energy, ability to communicate, patience when listening and discussing and devotion to independent research. These features can be observed not only by myself, but by my peers as well. The windows and tests, as well as interaction, helped me rediscover my strong points anew and become inspired to further develop as a person and a professional.
On the weaker side, I might sometimes take my altruism too far. Based on my idealism, I can develop pre-conceptions that prevent me from adopting an entirely non-judgmental approach. The course helped me realize the importance of not transferring my feelings onto my clients and colleagues, which is why I am determined to find a way of distancing myself from my emotional experience when I work. Another feature with room to improve is that I tend to take things too personally, especially the tutors’ and peers’ critiques. The course has shown me that I am able to take criticism differently: instead of passively brooding upon my weakness, I can upcycle it into a point of inspiration to hone my leadership skills.
To overcome my weaknesses, I accepted help from my mentors and classmates. I also read many books to expand my knowledge boundaries and update myself on the theories, which I found confusing at the beginning. On the other hand, I also learned to control my expression of views and judgments. I came to know that being logically correct is also considered to be one of the best qualities of a leader, and is something I need to develop. I understand that having a realistic view can also make me reliable as a future leader.
Overall, I have to admit that I am pleased to state that the experience and learning I have gained from this module – and entire course-work – are of a ‘momentous nature’ for me, as essentially they helped me to advance my career. The knowledge I gathered from this module encouraged me further to gain the utmost knowledge in this subject and apply my knowledge in the field-work in the health-care system. The practical courses made me more realistic, and taught me to deal with a number of unwanted situations, about which I had been completely unaware. This step proved to be helpful in developing my leadership skills. Therefore, apart from increasing the boundaries of my knowledge, this module helped me to broaden my management approach, strategic qualities and creativity and thinking skills in demanding situations, and motivated me to develop my career as a health care professional.
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