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Supporting Your Practice

Challenges Facing Health Professionals and the Role of Responsible Leadership

Dr. Tracey Adams, Professor of Sociology, Western University


Ever since the 1960s counterculture movement there has been a growing confluence of trends which have shone a spotlight on certain ‘elites’ in society, including those in the health care professions.

In this episode of CDA Oasis Live, Dr. John O’Keefe invites Dr. Tracey Adams, Professor of Sociology at Western University and panellist on the recent webinar Health Professions in a Changing World: The Need for Responsible Leadership, to share her insights into the specific challenges facing health care professionals today, and to point towards opportunities for us to demonstrate responsible leadership.

Here are the key takeaways from the conversation:

  • A Broad set of social trends over the last 20 or 30 years have led to an intensification in the challenges posed to health professionals, including dentists. These challenges include regulatory changes, loss of public trust, concerns with diversity and equity, government relations, access to care, and technological change.
  • Today’s characterization of health care professionals as either enemy or superhero is not helpful. Instead, we should react to health care workers as we would anybody else: as people with dignity who are facing challenging times.
  • Dentists face very particular challenges and at the same time share common challenges experienced by the broader health care community.
  • It is important for dentists to consider both individual challenges and those that challenge the profession collectively.
  • Advice going forward includes:
    • Be adaptable
    • Focus on equity and diversity
    • Focus on ethics and public interest
    • Collaborate with stakeholders on common goals
    • Prioritize dignity for all
    • Ensure we are a source of trusted information
  • Health care professionals do not necessarily need to jettison things that have worked in the past. What is important is to learn from the past, look forward and meet challenges head on.


We hope you find the conversation useful. We welcome your thoughts, questions and/or suggestions about this post and other topics. Leave a comment in the box below or send us your feedback by email.

Until next time!
CDA Oasis Team

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