Professor Stephen Leeder


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Prof. Leeder’s address to ANU medical students

Interview with Prof. Leeder

There’s this parable about an accountant to an affluent family that had recently lost their stereotypically shrewd businessman father. Because the rest of the family didn’t know anything about the business or finances, the generous soul volunteered to help manage their inherited wealth for them. Of course, he remained the biggest benefactor to the wealth, sparing just enough for the family to get by and not burden themselves into investigating why their lifestyle took a bigger blow than the father did from the oncoming train.

Earlier this year, Prof. Stephen Leeder was let go from the Medical Journal of Australia; for raising objections about the decision to outsource production of the magazine to the academic publishing company, Elsevier. In summary, the company has been implicated in practices that threaten academic integrity. Fears are that the Dutch company will threaten the autonomy in the quality of papers submitted; a result of the increased role that the company will have over the production of the journal.

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7 Qualities To A Good Health Professional

There are several quintessential characteristics that contribute to an outstanding health professional. Here are my thoughts on this subject matter.

  1. Compassion, kindness and empathy: These are fundamental qualities that should be pursuit by all health professionals. We are often interacting with patients in their most vulnerable state, therefore our interactions must encompass this. Our ability to empathise stems from our emotional intelligence, life experience and shared/common experience with our patients.
  2. Trust: Another important quality demonstrated by health professionals. We often have access to private or sensitive information about our patients. This is a privilege and vital for harmonious and fruitful relationship between health professionals and patients. All efforts should be made to maximise this relationship, therefore trust is the key.
  3. Communication: The importance of this quality cannot be overstated. Without effective communication skills information cannot be expressed adequately or accurately. Moreover our communication skills must be audience specific. Encompassed within communication is active listening.
  4. Ethical and moral conduct: Given the nature of our work and the importance of our relationship with patients and society at large we must behave ethically and uphold our professional codes of conduct. We must do no harm to our patients, respect their autonomy, privacy and consent.
  5. Leadership: We must demonstrate leadership within the context of our own profession and more broadly in the healthcare system. I’m a vehement believer of public advocacy to better health outcomes for patients and their communities.
  6. Knowledge and Intellect: In order to ensure appropriate decision-making and safe practice, health professionals must possess the intellectual rigour and training to provide outstanding care.
  7. Researchers and Teachers: Contemporary medicine relies on the utilisation of evidence-based practice and we must pay diligence to this corner stone of healthcare by actively engaging in quality research. Associated with this is to be comfortable with critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  Moreover, we must endeavour to train and guide younger health professionals in their development and intellectual growth.

Please feel free to contribute to qualities that I may have omitted. I’m keen to hear how you prioritise the qualities of health professionals.