Success or failure in the same institution: departmental leadership is crucial

Today, I had an interesting discussion with two staff of our hospital (one of them a midwife). An interesting question came up: When I was head of department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the hospital, why didn’t I do what I am currently doing at the Cervical Cancer Prevention and Training Centre (CCPTC) in that department?

Many people have forgotten what happened. I resigned as head of department because of the attitude of 3 of the midwives (that spilled over) which I couldn’t find a way to change. To make progress, leadership is vital. I had great ideas, but I didn’t find the leadership to make them happen. The current leadership at CCPTC is different.

I gave two examples:

  1. We wanted to train midwives to perform ultrasound scans (at a very high level of competence).
    At a meeting most of them were already thinking about how much money they were going to make. I made it clear that nobody was going to be paid until they were certified to perform ultrasound scans, they got angry. They decided not to touch the ultrasound machine again.

  2. We wanted to introduce epidural anaesthesia and ‘single shot spinal’ for labour analgesia. We were aiming at cutting off pain for women in labour. We had several meetings and discussions. The Anaesthesia Department was ready.
    When we discussed it with the head of midwives (who is no longer in the hospital), the first question was: “How much are the midwives going to be paid because they are going to do extra work.” My response was: “You don’t even know what this will involve. Let’s start then we will know how much extra work is involved…”
    The idea was dead on arrival!

So you see, you can bring Albert Einstein to your team. If you don’t get support from the other team members (especially their leaders), you are destined for failure. I am happy and grateful that the nurses and leadership at the CCPTC gave me an opportunity to demonstrate that I am not a theorist. With the right team and leadership, we can achieve results. We have the ability to solve our problems if we decide to.

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