Yvonne Smyth

Dr Yvonne Smyth MB FRCPI MA graduated from NUIG in 1997. She completed her internship and General Professional Training in University Hospital Galway (UHG). Thereafter she worked in Beaumont, the Adelaide and Meath and Cork University Hospitals before returning to UHG to complete the Cardiology Specialist Registrar training program. She was enrolled in the specialist division of the medical registrar in both Cardiology and General Internal Medicine in 2007.

Her particular areas of interest are cardiovascular imaging and heart failure. She undertook a subspecialty fellowship in Cleveland Clinic USA prior to being appointed as a Consultant Cardiologist in Bon Secours Hospital and Kerry General Hospitals Tralee in 2008. In 2013, she took up a joint Cardiology/AMU consultant post in UHG. In 2015 she became Co-Lead for the National Acute Medicine Programme. She has a MA in Healthcare Management, Diploma in Clinical Education and is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.

Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

I think you can argue whether leaders are born or created but I consider myself a natural leader. I have always assumed that role throughout my career, even when in relatively junior positions. I completed a diploma in Clinical Education a few years ago and chose to complete a leadership module as part of that. It helps me to understand the difference between leadership and management and to reflect on my own leadership style and ability and how to develop those further.

If you could wind back the clock to when you were starting your career what advice would you give yourself?

I would advise the younger me to celebrate my successes and achievements rather than attributing them to luck and not to be so full of self-doubt. Less capable male colleagues don’t doubt themselves.

What are you doing today to make sure you will be relevant in your profession in 10 years’ time?

One of the exciting things about a career in Medicine is that it is constantly changing. Knowledge and procedure/ device technology have changed enormously since I began practising 20 years ago. To stay up to date one has to read, attend the national and international meeting and learn new skills.

Part of a leaders job is to peer into the future. What changes are you seeing in your field today that will have the biggest impact in the future?

The changes that I think will have most impact on the future are demographic shifts- the challenges of providing healthcare to an ageing population and the impact of technology. Although technology has revolutionised how we get directions, read the news, check the weather, etc it has has little impact in a paper based hospital world as yet and I think there possibilities here are tremendous- particularly to improve quality and safety of patient care. In the aviation industry ,  first they improved the planes, then they moved on the dealing with human factors that caused bad outcomes. In Medicine we have done little to address the human factors that cause the equivalent of a plane load of patients to die each day in the US due to medical error and I think technology can help us to do that.

What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?

Prof Mary Horgan – first female president of Royal College of Physicians in Ireland

Dr Eric Topol- cardiologist, author

Dr Paddy Barrett- cardiologist for work on resilience and burnout in physicians

Atul Gawande- surgeon, writer for the New Yorker, author

Sheryl Sandberg

What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?


Sheryl Sandberg – Lean In, Plan B

Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


Harvard Business Review

And the following not necessarily re leadership but to question why we do what we do and how that will potentially change:


Dr Eric Topol- The Creative Destruction of Medicine, The Patient Will See You Now

Dr Atul Gawande- Checklist Manifesto, Mortality

Dr Paul Kalanathi-  When Breath Becomes Air


Dr Paddy Barrett- The doctor paradox