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Women in Leadership Course – Dr Beth Studley

VMWS is pleased to announce that Dr. Beth Studley was one of the three inaugural Women in Leadership Scholarship recipients! Find her recap of her experience participating in the Women in Leadership course, fully funded by VMWS.

Women in Leadership Course – Monash Centre of Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI)

By Dr Beth Studley

 Over the years, I have often gravitated towards leadership positions. I often thought leadership came naturally to me, with being elected Head Girl in high school and top positions in university societies. However, it was only recently that I learned that leadership is not a position or title, but rather your actions and values.

 I had always wanted to improve my leadership qualities, and felt very strongly that as a doctor, we often get asked to take charge but have never really been taught on how to lead. As I progressed through my medical career from being an intern, then a resident medical officer, to being a registrar; I discovered that my responsibility as a leader would grow, but there would be virtually no training to prepare me for this.  

Following the lead of one of my previous mentors, I applied for the Master of Leadership program through the University of Tasmania. Through this, I immersed myself in the latest literature and research on leadership types and strategies. I completed the Master of Leadership (Health & Human Resources) from University of Tasmania at the end of last year. However, despite all this, I still feel at odds about being a “leader”. I am the short, soft-spoken Asian doctor who generally gets looked over when a taller (despite being more junior) male doctor comes through. I always felt something was missing, and that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a leader in health care.

An opportunity then came unexpectedly from an essay competition to win the Women in Leadership Scholarship by the Victorian Medical Women’s Society this year. I have been actively participating in the events by the VMWS as they have been very inspiring and useful for my career. I didn’t think I would win, but thought about the saying, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”. So, I decided to take the plunge and submit an application. Imagine my surprise when I was announced as the scholarship winner for this year! What a privilege indeed. I have heard great things about this course from previous participants, but wow was I blown away.

Being able to attend this course via Zoom has certainly been a life-saver and unique in a variety of ways. It saves on time, money, as well as saving you the trouble of travelling (I am currently residing in Tasmania). Although not quite the same as a face-to-face course, the Zoom sessions were upbeat, interesting, and definitely kept us glued to the screen.

We kicked off the first day (of three) with Tracey Ezard, who is such an energetic and passionate speaker. Her sessions were uplifting and a definite eye-opener. She shared with us her brand of Ferocious Warmth, and the concept of psychological safety. She showed us what it meant to lead with your head versus your heart, and how to get to a place of balance, where you can achieve ferocious warmth in your leadership capabilities.

Moving on to the second day, we had the privilege of listening to Professor Helena Teede imparting her wise words of wisdom to us aspiring leaders, and expelled the myth that having a career AND a family are impossible feats. She showed us what different leadership styles meant, and the differences between capacity, capability and credibility. What struck out during her talk was the need to “respect your time”.

Dr Mariam Mousa showed us how a mentor can change your leadership journey, and inspired me to connect with my mentors, new and old. She shared with us a passion project and PhD research, and how to integrate your life and career; and defining the barriers that is stopping your progression.

Another special presentation was by Associate Professor Elizabeth Sigston. A powerful talk, she helped us work on our purpose statement for life and/or for work, and how this can shape the type of leader you wish to be, or the one you aspire to be. She focused on character values, virtues and traits, and reminded us of our commitment. And if all else fails, remember to return to your purpose in life.

The last session on the second day ended with a panel discussion between the different speakers. This generated a lot of ideas and tips on how to survive and thrive as a woman leader in this day and age. The message that resonated with me very strongly was, again, respect your time! Outsource jobs that you can outsource and share responsibilities with your spouse. Make it work!

The final day was again jam-packed with amazing speakers. Dr Mariam Mousa chaired the sessions for today and we heard more about her research and evidence-based leadership strategies. We heard from Dr Rhonda Garad who showed us who the stakeholders are in our leadership journey and why it is important to care for them. We also had an interesting session led by Associate Professor Emily Callander on inequality in the health workforce, and the enablers and disablers for women in leadership. What stood out was knowing that health care in Australia is delivered by women but led by men. This is certainly an area that requires refocus and rejigging, in order to deliver a more sustainable and equitable health care for our people.

We concluded the course with a reflection session from every participant, and it was an eye-opener for me to bear witness to the stories and strengths that each of them shared during our 3-day course.  I learned so much from our guest speakers, but I am also very grateful and feel very privilege to have been in the presence of awe-inspiring women leaders; the participants from all over Australia and New Zealand, and their dedication to their cause – shown in their attendance to this course! I cannot thank you enough for this phenomenal opportunity to be part of this wonderful group of women, who not only support each other, but who have continually shared their wisdom and truths for us to carry the baton back to our teams. This course has given me the tools and confidence I needed to be the leader I have always wanted to be.

Thanks again!

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