There has been much written on the need for clinical engagement at various levels within healthcare and studies have shown a strong link between engaged staff and high performing organizations.
It would not be wrong to think of engagement as a conversation or consultation is which is designed to persuade others to a particular point of view, or as is also commonly held, a specific action aimed at getting people to do more or some undertake some specific activity.
The definitions of leadership are many and, combined with differing leadership styles and approaches, this makes it difficult to simply spell out. Amongst the different view points and perspectives some common and classic ‘components’ might be ‘knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realize your own leadership potential, establishing direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring’ (Drucker, 1996, Kotter, 1996). The Kings Fund put it succinctly by stating that leadership is when the staff member chooses whether to do the minimum, or do more (Kings Fund, 2012).
Expecting staff to do more than the minimum implies that the organization is also involved and the right conditions exist to motivate clinicians to exercise leadership to be able to address interconnected issues, build coalitions between disparate stakeholders, form intra- and inter-organisational partnerships and networks, now needed to achieve measurable outcomes.
Clinical engagement is therefore a much more complex technical, socio-political and motivational issue spanning the relevant multiple professional sub-cultures, that is underpinned by: a series of inter-related factors associated with organisational context; the design of the improvement activity; and how these factors are promoted.
The medical engagement scale (MES) tool that is now available in Australia recognises that engagement cannot be considered on the basis of individual engagement alone. There are organisational conditions that also need to be in place to provide a culture of engagement.
The MES offers a reliable and valid measure of medical engagement that is quick and relatively unobtrusive to complete using three meta scales with two sub scales each, one which relates to the individuals engagement and another that relates to the organisational conditions.
Published research on MES in the United Kingdom demonstrate that it has face validity and the MES scale data has been shown to demonstrate a clear link between the concept of medical engagement and organisational performance with sound empirical information.
Though the focus of the MES is doctors, organizations that have completed the survey have shown that the results can be applied broadly across multiple disciplines and benefit the organization as a whole.