Getting things done - in Medical Education        

Whatever level you’re at in your Medical Education career, you will be working in some sort of institution- that might be a hospital, general practice, university, or a commercial organisation. You might be an educational entrepreneur making your own way, but if that is the case, you need to interact with those same institutions.

You have a great idea, you want to test out a new approach, evaluate it; or maybe share great practice that inspired you when you were at an ASME ASM or event! So how to make it happen. Putting ideas into practice can be tricky.

What resources do you need? The obvious one is money, but it can be time, or people, or kit. 

Where and when do you want to make this happen?

Who would you like to take part, and how are you going to reach them? Advertising, sourcing the right location? Even if you’re offering something virtual, how will you get your message out there?

One thing I have learnt over many years, is the importance of understanding how power and influence have such a vital role to play in the success or failure of initiatives.

Wherever you are in the food chain, you will have a relative amount of power to make things happen. If you are a student or junior staff member, you have relatively little power. The higher up the tree you go, the more power you have, but even as the Chief Executive of a large organisation, you probably still don’t have absolute power, as you will be accountable to your board.

The question is: do you need power in order to get things done?

This is where influence comes in to the picture, and my top tip for success is “work out who you can influence and, more importantly, who you can rely on to influence the powerful people on your behalf”. Take a look at your setting. Who talks in meetings, and who is listened to? Admittedly before Covid, (but we might get back there), who do you see having coffee with the person who you really need on your side to get this initiative going? Those are the people who can help you. Also, if you are junior, don’t be afraid to identify role models and ask them to mentor you, as they can influence on your behalf.

In a nutshell, if you don’t ask you don’t have a chance of success. Don’t be afraid to ask, but make sure you ask the right question of the right people. You might need to approach those who aren’t immediately obvious as being the most direct route to getting what you want, but frequently the direct approach is unlikely to succeed; because it might be perceived as a threat to the status quo.

Good luck!

 

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