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How do American dentists perceive leadership in their profession?


This summary is based on the article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association: Dentists’ leadership-related perceptions, values, experiences and behavior. Results of a national survey (December 2013)  



The authors developed a survey and administered it to members of the American Dental Association (ADA) to elicit their views on leadership in dentistry, as well as to explore their leadership-related values and evaluation of their effectiveness as leaders, their experiences with leadership-related activities and perceptions of barriers to being a leader. The authors also examined how male and female dentists differed in their leadership-related responses.

The authors collected survey data from 593 ADA members (mean age, 51 years). Seventy-seven percent of respondents were male and 85 percent were European American.

Main Findings

  • The highest rated indicators pertained to being recognized by patients, staff members and other dentists as an expert in dentistry.
  • Respondents indicated that they saw themselves as more effective in their own practices than they did in the dental profession overall.
  • It seems that the patient and staff-related aspects of working in a dental practice are associated more strongly with leadership than are professional innovation or organizational efforts.
  • Although respondents reported time constraints and family and practice obligations as barriers to “taking on more of a leadership role,” some respondents cited a lack of enthusiasm for leadership issues as a barrier that kept them from taking on a leadership role.
  • The data showed clearly that women did not differ from men in their perceived effectiveness as leaders. However, women valued leadership more than did men and rated not only practice-related issues, but also issues related to organized dentistry as being important to leadership.


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