1996 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
LEADERSHIP STYLES AMONG ALLIED HEALTH STUDENTS
Crystal L. Dunlevy, EdD. RRT, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
INTRODUCTION: In today's healthcare environment, all personnel are expected to work together in order to provide optimal patient care. Therapist-driven protocols and patient-focused care models shift emphasis from high productivity & task- orientation to critical thinking skills and shared leadership. This is true for respiratory care practitioners (RCPs), as well as for other members of the healthcare team. In order to adequately prepare students for entry into this environment, it is important for educators to assess the leadership styles of students entering their professions. Methods: A 35- item questionnaire was administered to 177 students (40 males, 137 females) immediately prior to their beginning baccalaureate programs in respiratory therapy, circulation technology, radiologic technology, medical dietetics, medical records administration, medical technology, physical therapy, & occupational therapy. The instrument required students to think as the leader of a work group, rating aspects of leadership behavior on a 5-item Likert-type scale. Each respondent receiving a T score representing concern for task, and a P score, representing concern for people. Means and standard deviations were calculated for each score. Two-tailed t-tests were utilized to detect differences between males and females; ANOVA with repeated measures was used to detect differences between allied health professions. p values < =0.05 were considered statistically significant. Results: Concern for task scores were significantly higher for males versus females (p=0.045). P scores were not significantly different between sexes (p=0.52). There were no significant differences between professions on either T (p=0.77) or P (p=0.83) scores. T scores were significantly higher than P scores for both males and females (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Allied health students enter academic programs with a high level of concern for task, indicating a trend toward autocratic versus shared leadership. In today's healthcare climate, educators need to encourage the development of shared leadership skills.