Articles and Case Studies

Empowering the medical leaders of tomorrow

09 Jun 2021

by Dr Mellissa Naidoo and Dr Hashim Abdeen

Empowering the medical leaders of tomorrow

Medical leaders throughout the pandemic, with their increased visibility and diversity in leadership styles, have been important role models for aspiring clinical leaders.

The value of medical leadership

The past 18 months have seen rapid changes as the healthcare system continued to adapt to the evolving threats of COVID-19. Doctors hold a trusted role in the community; and throughout the pandemic, the public have looked to our profession for reassurance, credible advice and reliable information. 

Strong medical leadership has been a critical component of our pandemic response – and it’s apparent that we need clinical leaders to help address the wider issues within the Australian healthcare system and ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients. 

The value of medical leadership is becoming increasingly recognised and was highlighted further through the COVID-19 crisis. Medical leadership across the health sector at all levels – from frontline clinical care to health policy and systems – is more important than ever. 

However, while leadership is a concept taught to us in medical school, few of us receive formal leadership preparation as part of our medical training. Yet, many doctors will find themselves in clinical leadership roles as they progress through their careers. It’s therefore important that we empower our future medical leaders by arming them with the skills, experience and opportunities necessary to develop their non-clinical capabilities and become effective leaders.

Shaping the future

DITs across the country are interested in shaping the future of our healthcare system, and are taking on various leadership and advocacy roles. For both of us, getting involved with MDA National as DITs has been an important part of our early leadership journeys. Our roles with MDA National have provided opportunities to contribute clinical knowledge and further develop essential non-clinical skills.

Doctors for doctors

Clinical thought leadership is essential to MDA National. As such, practising doctors are embedded throughout the organisation from those on staff to those on the Boards, committees and working groups. MDA National also engages with doctors through their local State Advisory Committees (SACs) to better understand the current challenges facing the profession and the local issues affecting Members across specialties. The SACs give Members the opportunity to get involved with the organisation in a thought leadership and advocacy role.

Member insights through the SACs and Mutual Board leadership have led to advocacy on various important issues over the past 12 months – including coronavirus FAQs, COVID-19 indemnity, doctors’ wellbeing, healthcare worker safety, support for GP registrars and those experiencing training disruptions, as well as diversity and inclusion. 

Empowering emerging leaders

MDA National is committed to giving a voice to doctors in training (DITs). While there is DIT representation on each of the SACs, the impact of COVID-19 on junior doctors and the specific challenges they face prompted MDA National to form a Junior Doctor Advisory Committee (JDAC). As a national committee of like-minded DIT leaders, they represent junior doctors’ perspective on medical indemnity and practice issues. 

The JDAC provides an important conduit for DIT voices and a platform to provide advice and insights to MDA National on key advocacy issues and initiatives relating to DITs – highlighting to the organisation what is truly important to you, as a DIT member of MDA, and how they can increase the value of your membership. With links back to the SACs and Mutual Board, this is a powerful mechanism for better understanding and responding to the unique needs of Members in the early stages of their careers. 

Do you have a topic you’d like to raise for discussion at a JDAC or SAC meeting?

Are you interested in being involved with an MDA National committee?

Contact your local SAC or JDAC member through your state office.

Communication with Colleagues, Doctors Health and Wellbeing, Employment Essentials, Anaesthesia, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, General Practice, Intensive Care Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Practice Manager Or Owner, Psychiatry, Radiology, Sports Medicine, Surgery, Physician, Geriatric Medicine, Cardiology, Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery, Radiation Oncology, Paediatrics, Independent Medical Assessor - IME, Gastroenterology


My Career Journey with Dr Nick Coatsworth

Dr Nick Coatsworth is an expert in health policy, public administration and a practising infectious diseases physician. He held a national role in the Australian response to COVID-19 as Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia, becoming one of the most recognised medical spokespeople during the pandemic. Nick engaged the Australian community through a variety of media platforms most notably as the spearhead of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Dr Micheal Gannon, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, sits down with Dr Nick Coatsworth to discuss Nick's medical career journey, and what insights and advice he has for junior doctors. MDA National would like to acknowledge the contributions of MDA National staff, Members, friends and colleagues in the production of the podcast and note that this work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under applicable copyright law, you may not reproduce the content of this podcast without the permission of MDA National. This podcast contains generic information only, is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, and doesn’t account for requirements of any particular individual. The content may contain opinions which are not necessarily those of MDA National. We recommend that you always contact your indemnity provider when you require specific advice in relation to your insurance policy or medico-legal matters. MDA National Members need to contact us for specific medico-legal advice on freecall 1800 011 255 or email We may also refer you to other professional services.


09 Jun 2022

Career complications and contending with uncertainty

Among the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for junior doctors is how to respond to medical training impacts and career uncertainty. In this podcast, Dr Caroline Elton (a psychologist who specialises in helping doctors)and Dr Benjamin Veness (a Psychiatry registrar) share advice for coping with medical training and career delays, disruptions and unknowns.


10 Aug 2020