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  • 23 May 2018

Leadership theory in the dental hygienist profession

dental profession

We simply cannot ignore the importance of leadership in a healthcare field. Especially if you talk about what has happened in the recent years, it’s clear that this particular quality is being emphasized upon more and more.

Lately, people have seen initiatives being taken focusing specifically on developing leadership for nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professions.

One of the most famous programs in this context would be that of leadership competency framework designed for doctors. Another famous one is RCN clinical leadership programme designed for nurses.

As a matter of fact, NHS has also created a leadership council whose sole purpose is to further the development of leadership in a healthcare field and nurture it.

Unfortunately, the field of dentistry has not received an equal amount of attention when it comes to leadership which is weird because leadership becomes crucial even more so in the field of dentistry.

But, the initiatives are being put into motion and here are some of the theories for the dentists to exploit -

1. The need to identify personal traits:

The traits include confidence, intelligence, stamina, tolerance, drive, initiative etc. It’s important to take these characteristics into consideration. They can also be developed via experience and training. However, some of these traits need to already be present among dental surgeons because they underpin their very roles as healthcare practitioners.

2. The need to identify a way of behaving:

Dentists should work out a way of personally interacting with everyone including patients and dental teams. They need to exhibit behaviors which are people-centric in order to foster a sense of teamwork and motivate the staff into getting things done in a healthier manner. While most surgeons may choose to implement a task-oriented style, providing undue attention to the kind of behavior one adapts at a workplace can lead to problems with aspects of sustainability of performance, motivation, and staff engagement.

3. Implementing Transformational leadership:

This is in contrast with the traditional approach. It has more about aligning with people, motivating, employing, and inspiring them. It’s about adopting visionary posting, anticipating, and preparing for unforeseen changes.

Given the context of dental practice, ie one of continuing change, the latter approach is likely to be more relevant, although both approaches are needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the practice. It has been argued that business management has already been instilled into dentistry but there is now a need to extend this to leadership.

This type of leadership includes the following characteristics:

Charisma - this is about gaining respect, trust, and offering a vision.

Providing inspiration - This is about communicating expectations.

Offering intellectual stimulation - This is about promoting rationality, developing a problem-solving attitude, and promoting intelligence.

Bolstering individual consideration - This point is about treating employees individually and providing attention.


These theoretical approaches are of immense importance in the field of dentistry. NHS is working out new ways to implement it on a broader scale and we cannot ignore the importance of leadership not just for health practitioner but across all professions.

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